And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the
book of the law
From whence it appears that he had never wrote out a copy of it, as the kings of Israel were ordered to do, when they came to the throne, ( Deuteronomy 17:18 Deuteronomy 17:19 ) nor had read it, at least not the whole of it; and yet it seems strange that he should be twenty six years of age, as he now was, and had proceeded far in the reformation of worship, and yet be without the book of the law, and the high priest also; it looks as if it was, as some have thought, that they had till now only some abstracts of the law, and not the whole: and perhaps the reformation hitherto carried on chiefly lay in abolishing idolatry, and not so much in restoring the ordinances of worship to their purity; for it was after this that the ordinance of the passover was ordered to be kept; and when the king observed, on hearing the law read, that it had not been kept as it should, that such severe threatenings were denounced against the transgressors of it;
that he rent his clothes;
as expressive of the rending of his heart, and of his humiliation and sorrow for the sins he and his people were guilty of.