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Josiah King of Judah
Josiah was only eight years old when he started reign. His mother’s name is mentioned: Jedidah, which means ‘darling’. She was the daughter of Adaiah, which means ‘the LORD is a jewel’. The place Bozkath was one of the cities of Judah (Jos 15:21; 39).
The general characteristics of Josiah is read in 2Kgs 22:2. There was nothing present in him of the godless characteristics of his father Amon and his grandfather Manasseh. On the contrary, he did what was right in the sight of the LORD and went “in all the way of his father David”. He went without deviating to the right or left. There is always the danger for a believer of deviating to the right, which stands for legalism, or to the left, which stands for liberalism. Only dependence on the Lord can save us from deviation to either side.
Money for the Restoration of the Temple
As we see with all the other good kings, Josiah’s first acts of his reign involved care for the temple. He ordered the temple to be restored. His first concern was God’s house, which had fallen into decay during the reign of Manasseh and Amon. He ordered Shaphan the writer, to tell the high priest Hilkiah that he should use the money that was in the house of the LORD for repairs.
Josiah had a loyal and dedicated helper in Shaphan, who had some sons and a grandson who were faithful men just like him (Jer 26:24; Jer 29:3; Jer 36:10; Jer 40:5). This offspring had had a positive influence. They were God-fearing sons. So it was possible to be a God-fearing family in a godless time. For the sake of completeness it should also be mentioned that he had a son who became an idolater (Eze 8:9-11).
The money had to be given to those who carried out the work. They could then buy the necessary materials. They were able to do that without ‘presenting every receipt’. It is always good to give in confidence, trusting that the person to whom it is given is acting well. This does not mean that accountability can be refused. Control is often good. Control does not take place out of mistrust, but because there is always the possibility of error. Trust should not be demanded, but should be given.
The Book of the Law Found
After the historian has told about the order to restore the house of God, he wrote about finding “the book of the law in the house of the LORD”. That was what his report emphasized. What followed was the effect on Josiah’s heart and conscience by what was written in the book of the law. The revival of Josiah was ignited by finding the Word of God.
It should be noted that the discovery of the book of the law was connected with the care for the temple. In a spiritual sense, we can apply the principle that we will discover God’s Word, that is, its meaning, if our hearts go out to what is now God’s house, His church. When our heart is in line with God’s heart, the right mind is present to be taught by God from His Word.
We do not know what this book of the law that they find was. It may have been the five books of Moses or only the book Deuteronomy. That is not important. What matters was the effect of that find. It was a great grace from God that He gave His Word back to His people, as it were. It was mentioned that Hilkiah said he had “found” the book of the law, which did not mean he searched for it. God took care he found it.
When it was found, the Word began its unstoppable run (cf. 2Thes 3:1). Hilkiah, the high priest, had found it, he gave it to Shaphan, who went to read in it and then went with the book of the law to the king. Once there, he first reported on his original mission with regard to money. After this there is no further mention about the work on the temple. All attention was focused on the Word and the effect of the Word.
After the report about the money, Shaphan told the king about the book of the law he had received from Hilkiah. He didn’t hand it over to the king as an antiquity, to marvel at it, but he read it to the king because of current events, to be addressed by it. The Bible is best honored when we read it faithfully, study it, and incorporate into our hearts what we read and practice what the Lord says to us.
We see that with Josiah. The effect God’s Word had on him was impressive. He was seized by it or even better, he was overwhelmed by it. He was not only smitten by the Word, but he was overcome by it. Josiah did not wonder if it was the Bible, if it was true. He did not argue, but the Word worked in him. He accepted it, “not [as] the word of men, but [for] what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1Thes 2:13).
Perhaps the opposite is more the case with us. We do not have to search for a Bible. Often we have several Bibles, in different translations and different languages, at our fingertips, but often we don’t treasure when we read in it. When Josiah discovered the Bible, he made a great discovery, he “finds great spoil” (Psa 119:162). It tore his heart. As a sign of his inner dejection he tore his clothes (cf. Joel 2:13).
It is to be hoped that we will experience this every time we read in God’s Word. That is possible! We can pray that the Lord will show Himself and His will to us in His Word. If He sees that sincere desire with us and also that we will be humbled when He reveals our flaws to us, He will show Himself and His will.
The Word of the LORD
Josiah did what every soul does who in truth is convinced of his sins and therefore fears for judgment. Someone who really discovers that he is a sinner will turn to God to ask Him what to do. Every person who is touched by the Word of God and sees what he is in the eye of God, has that question. The Word brings us into the arms of God.
Whoever lives through the Word also knows the value and especially the practice of prayer. Josiah wanted to know from the LORD if there was still hope. He sought that hope with Him Who also has to bring judgment. There was no moderation at all with Josiah. He brought his need to the LORD by acknowledging that he and the people had earned judgment. He left it with the LORD how He would answer.
Josiah sent reliable men to Hulda. It is not clear why he sent them to a woman, the prophetess Huldah, and not to Jeremiah or Zephaniah, who acted as prophets in his days. Possibly they were still too young and unknown. He knew the prophetess Huldah. The fact that he went to a prophetess at least marks the time of decay, as in the time of Deborah’s performance, when decay was also great (Jdg 4:1-9).
The name of her husband was explicitly mentioned by also giving the name of his father and grandfather. Hulda’s profession, that he was keeper of the wardrobe, i.e. of the priestly clothes is also mentioned. He took care of the priests’ garments. In the spiritual sense this means that he supervised the behavior of the believers, whether they are in accordance with their confession.
Huldah knew God’s thoughts regarding God’s people’s life practices. A prophet or prophetess speaks utterances of God with a view to current situations. Such a person can apply the Word to it. Josiah also experienced this through the message she had for him.
Huldah needed to speak about Josiah on behalf of the LORD as “the man” and not as “the king”. For the LORD, all the dignity Josiah had as king was not as important as it was about His judgment. Huldah is told by the LORD what He wanted to say to Josiah and what she had to pass on. It started with a repetition of what Josiah had heard read aloud and what had brought him to dejection. For the third time we hear the announcement of God’s punishment of His people. What Hulda said is nothing but repeating what God’s Word said.
Then a word for Josiah personally followed. That personal word was addressed to him as “the king of Judah”. It was a word of encouragement. The reason for this was his humiliation which the LORD had noted. The LORD saw this humbling in his heart and He had also observed the outer characteristics of the tearing of his clothes and tears.
We read of Josiah’s father Amon, that he did not humble himself before the LORD (2Chr 33:21-23). His father Manasseh had humbled himself, but was forced to do so because of his own sins. Josiah did not humble himself because of his own sins, but because of a common guilt. He humbled himself over the sins of the people and of his fathers. He made himself one with them.
The encouragement was that the LORD would gather him to his fathers and to his grave in peace. He would see nothing of the calamity that the LORD was going to bring on Jerusalem.
The men he sent to Huldah reported to him on what the LORD had told Huldah. We see the effect in the next chapter.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Kings 22". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13