Observation: God is torn between punishing Judah for its infidelity in worshipping other gods and the humility shown by king Josiah. One of the signs or acts of humility is tearing of clothes. Verse 19 - God acknowledges Josiah's repentance "You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance."
Application: Being torn between two different decisions is feeling pulled in two different directions. When something is torn it can never go back to the way it was before. Josiah's repentance before God and the act of tearing his clothes marks an important aspect of the relationship between God and God's people. God promises the punishment due Judah will not come during Josiah's lifetime.
I think about the words of judgement that come from God and I also think of Jesus being baptized in the river Jordan. That day, the heavens were torn apart, and God spoke: This is my son, my beloved, in him I am well pleased." At Jesus death, the temple curtain (separating God's dwelling place from the people) was torn in two. The tearing or being torn means that things will never be the same. The same is true of our baptism, our lives are never the same yet we are still torn daily in following the Lord or being distracted by other gods. We daily die to ourselves and rise to new life in Christ. Sometimes we have to tear our clothes in repentance for choosing to follow other gods.
Prayer: Lord, keep me steadfast in your word, that I might repent of my sins and know the promise of your salvation.