Josiah was only eight years old when he became king. He did not inherit an easy legacy. Both Josiah’s father Amon and his grandfather Manasseh did evil in the sight of the Lord. They led the people into idolatry and abandoned the covenant. The temple of the Lord was neglected and fell into disrepair. In the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah ordered that the temple be repaired and restored. During the restoration Hilkiah the high priest uncovered a lost scroll. It was “the Book of the Law”–probably the book of Deuteronomy. Hilkiah brought it to Shaphan, the king’s secretary. Shaphan read it, then read it to the king. As he heard the book, Josiah recognized the seriousness of the people’s sin against the Lord. He tore his robes in grief and mourning and ordered his highest court officials to go inquire of the Lord about the book. Josiah’s emissaries sought out Huldah. Who was Huldah, and what can we learn from her?
Huldah was a prophet of the Lord.
2 Kings identifies Huldah as “the wife of Shallum, son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardobe” and says that she lived in Jerusalem’s New Quarter (2 Kings 22:14). She is also identified as a prophet. Huldah may have been related to the prophet Jeremiah by marriage; her husband Shallum was probably Jeremiah’s uncle (Jeremiah 32:7). As the keeper of the wardrobe, her husband was a member of the court. Yet it seems Huldah was known as a prophet in her own right. The men Josiah sent to inquire of the Lord were the high priest, the secretary, and Josiah’s own court attendant. These were prominent men in the court–it would have been like the president sending the Secretary of State, Speaker of the House, and his own chief of staff to get advice on a matter. They could have sought out Jeremiah, who was also active during Josiah’s reign. Instead they chose Huldah. That these prominent men chose to go Huldah instead of asking her to come to them may be an indication of Huldah’s stature and reputation. At a time in which the king and the nation needed to hear from the Lord, the king’s highest court officials sought out Huldah. They trusted Huldah to accurately and honestly declare the word of the Lord.
Huldah recognized the authority of God’s written word
The Book of the Law Josiah found was probably Deuteronomy. Huldah authenticated and affirmed the message of the book. The core of her message is the same as what the rest of the prophets declared and strongly echoes Deuteronomy 28. There are blessings in keeping God’s covenant and consequences for disobeying it. Huldah’s prophetic word confirmed that that God’s written word was accurate and true.
Huldah proclaimed both judgment and hope.
The Old Testament prophets often spoke of God’s coming judgment, but they also proclaimed God’s certain hope. Huldah did both. She confirmed what Josiah had already understood from reading the Book of the Law: the people had broken God’s covenant by worshiping other gods, and they would experience God’s judgment. Yet because Josiah had repented and humbled himself before the Lord, God would withhold his judgment for a time. Josiah’s reign would be a season of mercy before judgment, and God promised Josiah would die in peace before God judged the people for their idolatry and sin.
What can we learn from Huldah?
Paul urged Timothy to “preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Huldah probably was not expecting the high priest and Josiah’s highest court officials to come knock on her door that day. But she was prepared to declare God’s word when the moment came. We also need to be prepared to declare God’s word when our moment comes.
Huldah also didn’t hesitate to declare the whole counsel of the Lord. Judgment was coming. It wasn’t a comfortable message, but Huldah boldly proclaimed and affirmed that what God’s word said was true. There are parts of Scripture that are unpopular or may make us uncomfortable. But Scripture is there to “correct, rebuke, and encourage.” We need to preach about God’s love, but we also need to preach about God’s holiness and judgment. Yet God’s judgment is always bound together with hope. God’s judgment on sin is sure, but so is the hope of God’s mercy and grace toward those who repent and return. We should join Huldah in affirming God’s word and proclaiming both God’s judgment and grace.
What do you learn from Huldah?
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