2 Kings 22:14-20
SS Lesson for 03/21/2021
Devotional Scripture: Psalm 51:1-17
The Information Age in which we live is a double-edge sword: the massive amount of useful information is accompanied by massive amounts of factual errors and bias. Which customer review is the reliable guide to booking a hotel room or trying a new restaurant? Which news network should you count on as being the most trustworthy? To what commentators and analysts do you turn to make unbiased sense of current events? What source of information can be trusted above all others? In the lesson text for this week, we encounter a young king who was faced with similar questions. His decision is still instructive after many centuries.
The events recorded in this week’s text took place in the days of Josiah, king of Judah (reigned 640-609 BC). He was a godly king known for his tireless attempts to purify Judah’s worship and the temple (2 Kings 22:1-23:25; 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:19). In the years preceding Josiah’s rise to the throne, the kings of Judah had vacillated between devotion to the Lord and to idols. Josiah’s great-grandfather Hezekiah (reigned 724-695 BC) had instituted a set of religious reforms in Judah that were intended to restore proper worship of the Lord (2 Chronicles 29-31). But gross unfaithfulness to the God of Israel characterized the reign of Hezekiah’s son Manasseh (694-642 BC). He rebuilt pagan worship shrines his father had destroyed. Manasseh encouraged worship of the Baals as well as that of the sun, moon, and stars (example: 2 Kings 23:11). Manasseh went so far as to offer his son in child sacrifice and built pagan altars within the Lord’s temple itself (2 Kings 21:1-18). Late in his reign, Manasseh repented of his sin (2 Chronicles 33:10-17). But his former evil contributed directly in Judah’s ultimate destruction and exile (2 Kings 21:10-16; 23:26; 24:3-4). Josiah’s father, Amon (reigned 642-640 BC), returned to the idolatry that characterized the earlier years of Manasseh. King Amon was assassinated in a palace coup after a two-year reign, and the “people of the land” made his 8-year-old son Josiah king in his place (2 Kings 21:19-26; 2 Chronicles 33:20-25). Godly advisers among Judah’s aristocracy apparently influenced Josiah. Some are named in today’s text. Other godly contemporaries included well-known prophets. Zephaniah, a descendant of King Hezekiah, prophesied during the reign of Josiah (Zephaniah 1:1). Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry began in the thirteenth year of Josiah (Jeremiah 1:1-2), five years before this event. No doubt their ministries were an impetus in Josiah’s reforms leading up to these events. The result was that when Josiah was 16 years old, “he began to seek the God of his father David” (2 Chronicles 34:3). In the twelfth year of Josiah’s reign, he began to purge the land of pagan idols and shrines (34:3-7). About six years later, King Josiah ordered a renovation of the temple (2 Kings 22:3). The Book of the Law was found within the temple in the process (22:8). Scholars disagree regarding the exact identity of the book that was found. Some believe it was a copy of the entire Law of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament, otherwise known as the Pentateuch). Others believe it was only the book of Deuteronomy or some portion of it. Sometime in the previous decades during the reigns of wicked Manasseh and Amon, the Book of the Law had been lost and forgotten. Or perhaps idolatrous priests intentionally “misplaced” it in order to hide the guilt of their own apostasy. When Shaphan reported to Josiah on the process of the repair project, Shaphan also alerted the king to the discovery of the book. Given Josiah’s reaction of distress to what he heard read from that book (see 2 Kings 22:11), Deuteronomy may well have been the book’s identity; it detailed the punishments Israel would suffer if the people failed to keep the covenant. These curses would culminate in exile from the land (Deuteronomy 29:25-28). Realizing the guilt of Judah, Josiah commissioned a delegation to inquire of the Lord concerning the wrath that the king feared would soon be visited on him and his kingdom (2 Kings 22:12-13). A description of the nature of that delegation is how today’s lesson text opens.
Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you, says the LORD.
22:1. Josiah was one of Judah’s best kings. Peace, prosperity, and reform characterized his reign. Josiah was only a lad of eight... when he was crowned king, and reigned over Judah 31 years (640-609 b.c.). During his reign world power passed from Assyrian to Babylonian leadership. Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, was destroyed in 612 b.c., and the Assyrian Empire fell in 609.
22:2. Like Asa and Hezekiah before him Josiah did what was right in the sight of the Lord and followed the good ways of his ancestor David. He did not deviate from this course at any time during his reign. The chronicler added that Josiah began to seek after the Lord when he was 16 and he began his religious reforms when he was 20 (2 Chron. 34:3-7). Josiah was the fourth and final reformer among Judah’s kings, following Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah. But Josiah’s reforms were more extensive than those of any of his predecessors.
22:3-7. The temple had fallen into disrepair and had been desecrated by Manasseh who had built pagan altars and images in it (cf. 21:4-5, 7, 21). In Josiah’s 18th year as king, at age 26, he began to repair the temple and restore it to its former condition. He sent the secretary, Shaphan (perhaps like a secretary of state) along with other high government officials (cf. 2 Chron. 34:8) to begin the temple renovations. For some time money had been collected for this purpose. Now enough was in hand to begin the work. The procedure was similar to that followed by Joash (cf. 2 Kings 12:10). As then, the supervisors proved trustworthy. (See 2 Chron. 34:8-13 for more details of this aspect of Josiah’s reform.)
22:8-10. In the process of renovating the temple a copy of the Book of the Law (either the Book of Deut. or, more likely, the entire Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible) was found. Evidently Manasseh or Amon had destroyed other copies so that the discovery of this one constituted an important find. Hilkiah the high priest shared his discovery with Shaphan who also read it. After reporting progress on the restoration to Josiah, Shaphan... informed the king of this important discovery and read from it to him.
22:11-13. In distress Josiah tore his robes (cf. Gen. 37:29, 34; Josh. 7:6; 2 Kings 5:7; 6:30; 11:14; 19:1; Es. 4:1; Job 1:20; 2:12) and wept (2 Kings 22:19) on hearing what God required of His people as he compared that with how far they had departed from His will. He then sent five of his top officials to inquire of the Lord what should be done. Josiah feared the anger of the Lord and wanted to turn it away from all the people of Judah, not just himself. The shock expressed by the king at the contents of the Law reveals that Judah had not consulted the Law for a long time.
22:14. The fact that the king’s five officers (cf. v. 12) sought out the Prophetess Huldah suggests that she was highly regarded for her prophetic gift. Other prophets also lived in and around Jerusalem at this time including Jeremiah (Jer. 1:2), and Zephaniah (Zeph. 1:1), and perhaps Nahum and Habakkuk. But the five consulted Huldah for reasons unexplained. This woman was the wife of Shallum who was responsible for the royal or priestly wardrobe. She lived in... the Second District of Jerusalem which was the part of the city lower in elevation than the rest.
22:15-18. After consulting the Lord Huldah sent His message back to the king. God would surely send disaster on Jerusalem and the people of Judah as He had warned in the Law of Moses. This judgment would come because they had forsaken Him and made idols and burned incense to them. God’s anger burned against His people (cf. v. 13) basically because they had forsaken His appointed way whereby they could experience blessing, enjoy life, and demonstrate to all other peoples how glorious it was to live under the Lord’s leadership.
22:19-20. Josiah would experience God’s mercy personally, however, because he had responded to God’s Word and had humbled himself before the Lord when he heard the Law of Moses. God said that the king would die and be buried before judgment would descend on Judah. His death in 609 was four years before Nebuchadnezzar’s first attack on Jerusalem in 605.
14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her.
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance —
14 For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.
5 The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.
24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men — the testimony given in its proper time.
6 But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance — now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.
15 Then she said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'Tell the man who sent you to Me,
16 "Thus says the Lord: 'Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants — all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read —
17 because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched.'"'
24 "Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do — because you have done this, you will be taken captive.
21 Fear the Lord and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious, 22 for those two will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?
25 since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you —
32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king."
10 Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. 12 So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
5 This is what the Lord says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
7 "You shall have no other gods before me. 8 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen.
14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
18 But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, 'Thus says the Lord God of Israel: "Concerning the words which you have heard —
19 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you," says the Lord.
20 Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place."'" So they brought back word to the king.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; 16 the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign,.... And must be born when his father was but sixteen, for Amon lived but twenty four years, 2 Kings 21:19, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem; and so must die at thirty nine years of age: and his mother's name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath; a city of the tribe of Judah; see Gill on Joshua 15:39.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord,.... In the affair of religious worship especially, as well as in other things: and walked in all the ways of David his father; in his religious ways, in which he never departed from his God: and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; but kept an even, constant, path of worship and duty, according to the law of God.
And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of King Josiah,.... Not of his age, but of his reign, as appears from 2 Chronicles 34:8 nor is what follows the first remarkable act he did in a religious way; for elsewhere we read of what he did in the eighth and twelfth years of his reign, 2 Chronicles 34:3, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam the scribe, to the house of the Lord; the king's secretary; the Septuagint version is, the scribe of the house of the Lord, and so the Vulgate Latin version; that kept the account of the expenses of the temple; with him two others were sent, 2 Chronicles 34:8, saying: as follows.
Go up to Hilkiah the high priest,.... Who had an apartment in the temple; there was an Hilkiah, a priest, in those times, who was the father of Jeremiah the prophet, Jeremiah 1:1, whom an Arabic writerF12 takes to be the same with this; but it is not likely: that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord which the people voluntarily offered for the repairing of it; this he would have the priest take an account of, that the sum total might be known; his meaning is, that he should take it out of the chest in which it was put, and count it, that it might be known what it amounted to; see 2 Kings 12:9, some understand this of melting and coining the silver thus given which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people: who were Levites, 2 Chronicles 34:9, either porters of the door, or rather the treasurers, as the Targum; the keepers of the vessels of the sanctuary, that had the care of them, as the Jewish commentators generally interpret it.
And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord,.... That were overseers of the workmen, whose names are mentioned, 2 Chronicles 34:12 into their hands the money was to be delivered by the high priest, when he had taken the account of it, and perhaps along with the king's scribe, see 2 Kings 12:10, and let them give it to the doers of the work, which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house as their wages for their work; it seems it had not been repaired from the times of Jehoash, a space of two hundred and eighteen years, according to the Jewish chronologyF13; but Kimchi and Abarbinel make it two hundred and twenty four.
Unto carpenters, and builders, and masons,.... Who were employed, some in mending the woodwork, and others in repairing the stone walls and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house; not only money was to be given them for their workmanship, but to buy timber and stone to work with.
Howbeit, there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand,.... No account was kept between the high priest, and the king's scribe who delivered the money and the overseers of the workmen, who received it from them the latter were not called to any account by the former, nor any audit made of their accounts: because they dealt faithfully: they were persons of such known honour and integrity, that their fidelity was not in the least called in question, but were trusted without examining their accounts, and how they disposed of the money committed to them, see 2 Kings 12:15.
And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe,.... Not at the first time of his message to him, but afterwards that he attended on him upon the same business; after the high priest had examined the temple to know what repairs it wanted, and where: I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord; some think this was only the book of Deuteronomy, and some only some part of that; rather the whole Pentateuch, and that not a copy of it, but the very autograph of Moses, written with his own hand, as it seems from 2 Chronicles 34:14. Some say he found it in the holy of holies, on the side of the ark; there it was put originally; but, indeed, had it been there, he might have found it before, and must have seen it, since, as high priest, he entered there once every year; more probably some pious predecessor of his had taken it from thence in a time of general corruption, as in the reign of Manasseh, and hid it in some private place, under a lay of stones, as Jarchi, in some hole in the wall, which upon search about repairs was found there: and Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it; and though there might be some copies of it in private hands, yet scarce; and perhaps Shaphan had never seen one, at least a perfect one, or however had never read it through, as now he did.
And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again,.... Of the delivery of his message to the high priest, and of what had been done upon it: and said, thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house; meaning Hilkiah and himself, who had examined the chest in the temple, into which the money was put for the repairs of it, and had taken it out, and told it: and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord; according to the king's orders.
And Shaphan showed the king,.... Further related to him what follows: saying, Hilkiah the high priest hath delivered me a book; but did not say what book it was: and Shaphan read it before the king; part of it; and it is thought by Kimchi and Ben Gersom that he particularly read the reproofs and threatenings in the book of Deuteronomy; they suppose that Hilkiah read those to Shaphan, and directed him to read them to the king, that he might take into consideration a further reformation.
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 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.
And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest,.... The high priest, as he is called, 2 Kings 22:4. and Ahikam the son of Shaphan; whether the same with Shaphan the scribe, before mentioned, or another of the same name, is not certain: and Achbor the son of Michaiah; who is called Abdon, the son of Micah, 2 Chronicles 34:20. and Shaphan the scribe; who brought and read the book to the king: and Asahiah, a servant of the king's; that waited on him constantly: saying; as follows.
Go ye, inquire of the Lord,.... Of some of his prophets, as Jeremiah, who began to prophesy in the thirteenth year of Josiah's reign, and had been a prophet five years, Jeremiah 1:1, for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found; for he observed that this book threatened and foretold not only the captivity of the ten tribes, but of Judah, and of their king; and Jarchi thinks, he had a particular respect to that passage: the Lord shall bring thee and thy king, &c. Deuteronomy 28:36 and therefore was desirous of knowing what he and his people must do to avert those judgments: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us; which he concluded from the threatenings denounced: because that our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according to all which is written concerning us: he clearly saw that his ancestors more remote and immediate had been very deficient in observing the laws, commands, and ordinances enjoined them in that book; and therefore feared that what was threatened would fall upon him and his people, who, he was sensible, came short of doing their duty.
So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went down to Huldah the prophetess,.... Such as were Miriam and Deborah; in imitation of those Satan had very early his women prophetesses, the Sibyls, so called from their being the council and oracle of God, and consulted as such on occasion, as Huldah now was; and the first of the Sibyls, according to SuidasF14, was a Chaldean or a Persian; and some say an Hebrew; and Pausanias expressly saysF15, that with the Hebrews above Palestine was a woman prophetess, whose name was Sabba, whom some called the Babylonian, others the Egyptian Sibyl. Aelian relatesF16 that one of them was a Jewess: the wife of Shallum, the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; but whether the king's wardrobe in the palace, or the priest's in the temple, is not certain; he is called Hasrah, 2 Chronicles 34:22 who is here called Harhas: now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college; in the college of the prophets; in the house of instruction, as the Targum; the school where the young prophets were instructed and trained up; though Jarchi observes, that some interpret this "within the two walls"; Jerusalem it seems had three walls, and within the second this woman lived; there were gates in the temple, as he also observes, called the gates of HuldahF17, but whether from her cannot be said: this place of her dwelling seems to be mentioned as a reason why these messengers went to her, because she was near, as well as well known for her prophetic spirit, prudence, and faithfulness, and not to Jeremiah, who in all probability was at Anathoth; and so also is the reason why they went not to Zephaniah, if he as yet had begun to prophesy, because he might be at a distance also: and they communed with her; upon the subject the king sent them about.
And she said unto them,.... The king's messengers: thus saith the Lord God of Israel; being immediately inspired by him, she spake in his name, as prophets did: tell the man that sent you to me; which may seem somewhat rude and unmannerly to say of a king; but when it is considered she spake not of herself, but representing the King of kings and Lord of lords, it will be seen and judged of in another light.
Thus saith the Lord, behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of it,.... Destruction to the place, and captivity to the inhabitants of it: even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read; particularly what is contained in Leviticus 26:14, even all the curses in it, as in 2 Chronicles 34:24.
Because they have forsaken me,.... My worship, as the Targum; his word and ordinances: and have burnt incense unto other gods; to Baal, to the host of heaven, and other Heathen deities: that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands: their idols of wood, stone, gold, and silver, which their hands had made, to worship; than which nothing was more provoking to God: therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched; the decree for the destruction of Jerusalem was gone forth, and not to be called back; the execution of it could not be stopped or hindered by cries, prayers, entreaties, or otherwise; this wrath of God was an emblem of the unquenchable fire of hell, Matthew 3:12.
But to the king of Judah, which sent you to inquire of the Lord,.... That is, with respect to him, or what may concern him: thus shall ye say unto him; carry back this message to him as from the Lord he desired to inquire of: thus saith the Lord God of Israel, as touching the words which thou hast heard: read out of the law, concerning the destruction of the land, and its inhabitants therein threatened.
Because thine heart was tender,.... Soft like wax, and susceptible of impressions; or was "moved", or "trembled", as the Targum; for God has respect to such as are of contrite hearts, and tremble at his word, Isaiah 66:2, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord; external humiliation, such as in Ahab, was regarded by the Lord, much more internal and cordial humiliation is regarded by him, see 1 Kings 21:29, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse; as in Leviticus 26:1. and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; as expressive of the inward contrition, sorrow, and grief of his heart: I also have heard thee, saith the Lord: his cries and prayers.
Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers,.... To his godly ancestors, to share with them in eternal life and happiness; otherwise it could be no peculiar favour to die in common, as his fathers did, and be buried in their sepulchres: and thou shall be gathered into thy grave in peace; in a time of public peace and tranquillity; for though he was slain in battle with the king of Egypt, yet it was what he was personally concerned in, and it was not a public war between the two kingdoms, and his body was carried off by his servants, and was peaceably interred in the sepulchre of his ancestors, 2 Kings 23:29, as well as he died in spiritual peace, and entered into eternal peace, which is the end of the perfect and upright man, as he was, Psalm 37:37 but this chiefly regards his not living to be distressed with the calamities of his nation and people, as follows: and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place: he being removed first, though it came upon it in the days of his sons: and they brought the king word again; of what Huldah the prophetess had said unto them.
The events recorded in 2 Kings 22 highlight both the importance of engaging with God’s words and responding to them. It seems absurd that the Book of the Law was neglected and lost to the people of Judah! Yet is that any more ridiculous than the Bible’s loss to myriads of Christians who rarely read it? We must guard against losing Scripture in our churches, our homes, and our lives. We honor God when we do his will as recorded in Scripture (John 14:15; etc.). Josiah sought to do just that through his reforms after the Book of the Law was found. He acted on the words he had heard from that book. He showed remorse over the sin of his people, and he sought godly insight into what he had heard read to him. Scripture study must always lead us to repentance and action based on what we encounter in its pages. This is the faithful response to learning God’s will. That process involves consulting competent interpreters of Scripture (Romans 12:4-8; 2 Timothy 2:2) and studying it alongside other believers who are willing to hold us accountable to its words (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:24-25). May we, like Josiah, surround ourselves with faithful companions as we seek God’s guidance.
Conviction - King Josiah reigned during a critical time in Judah's history. The young king led the people into a season of spiritual revival and repentance. This resulted in great peace during his administration. When the young king gave an order for the temple to be opened up and cleaned out, the priest Hilkiah found the Book of the Law. The priest read it to the king, and God's message greatly disturbed the king. The people had turned their backs on God's instructions and replaced worshiping the true and living God with the worship of idols. This combination of wrongdoing guaranteed the outpouring of God's wrath.
Change - Josiah's immediate response to God's message was to seek out understanding from God's messenger. The priest took the scrolls to the female prophet Huldah. Both Jeremiah and Zephaniah spoke God's proclamations around this time. However, for some reason, the priest asked Huldah to reveal the heart and mind of God. After hearing the words of the Book of the Law, she confirmed the fears of King Josiah. Sadly, God's chosen people deserved judgment, and it would surely come because they walked contrary to the ways of the Lord.
Second Chances - Huldah, however, also had good news. Because of Josiah's humble heart, he would not see the coming punishment of Judah. He died in peace without ever suffering the calamity God eventually brought upon the nation. King Josiah is an excellent example of what happens when a person decides to go God's way instead of continuing on a path of ungodly destruction. Biblical repentance is recognizing one's behavior is an offense to God and wanting to do something about it. A person who refuses to repent, no matter how calm and trouble-free they seem on the outside, is in deep inner turmoil. The Holy Spirit calls the prodigals back to the One who created them to fulfill God's specific purpose for their lives. Sincere repentance brings a relationship with God and His cleansing from sin.