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JOSIAH'S GOOD REIGN
(22:1 - 23:30)
From Josiah's beginning to reign at eight years of age, his reign was faithful and godly, for he walked in the ways of David, the first of Israel's godly kings (v.2), just as we today should gain our instructions from the first days of Christianity rather than from men who have followed through the years. How much more important is the teaching of the apostles whom the Lord appointed than that of Martin Luther, J.N. Darby or any other outstanding man of history.
2 Chronicles 34:3-7 tells us what is not recorded in 2 Kings, that in the eighth year of Josiah's reign, at age 16, he began to seek the God of his father David, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places and idolatrous images, making a clean sweep of every element of idolatry, even burning the bones of the idolatrous priests on their altars. In fact, he went beyond Judah in his zeal for the honour of God, doing the same in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali. He did this in spite of the fact that these tribes were under Assyrian bondage and people from other nations had been introduced among them. Thus, at age 20, the faith of Josiah was remarkably energetic.
Chapter 22 of 2 Kings then begins with the record of Josiah's initiative in repairing the house of God, which took place in his 18th year, the age of 26 (v.3). He had sent messengers to Manasseh and Ephraim, as well as Judah and Benjamin, to collect money for the purpose of repairing the house, which had lapsed into a degraded state through the abuse of Josiah's father and grandfather (2 Chronicles 34:8-9).
Now Josiah sends Shaphan the scribe to ask Hilkijah the high priest to count the money they had received and give it to those doing the work, who were overseers in the house of the Lord, - to carpenters, builders and masons - to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house (vv.4-6). But, interestingly, they were not required to give any accounting of the way the money was spent, for they were depended on to deal faithfully. This is a lovely characteristic of a true revival among the people of God, not a humanly planned revival, though it did begin with the godly exercise of the young king, whose faith proved an effective example to others.
THE BOOK OF THE LAW DISCOVERED
Though God had commanded in Deuteronomy 17:18-19 that the king of Israel was to write a copy of the law for himself and learn it well, Josiah did not even know that such a book existed. No doubt Manasseh and Amon had ignored God's Word completely, so that when Hilkijah the high priest found the book of the law in the house of God, it was a total surprise to him and to Josiah. Certainly the high priest should have known the law, but the faith of Josiah was required to wake up the high priest. It is true in our day too, when there is genuine concern about the house of God, the Church, this will lead us to the Word of God.
When Shaphan the scribe read the Word of God to the king, Josiah was painfully shocked and tore his clothes (vv.10-11). For this was a message far more serious and solemn than he had ever expected. He commanded five of his servants, including the high priest and the scribe, to inquire of the Lord concerning the law and its warning of judgment against the very evils that Josiah had inherited from his fathers. For the scriptures plainly declared the wrath of God against the disobedience of which he knew his fathers were guilty (vv.12-13).
To ask about the book that so affected King Josiah, his servants went to a prophetess, Huldah, who lived in Jerusalem (v.14). It is sad that there were no male prophets to consult. At times of a low condition amongst God's people, because of a sad faithlessness among men, the Lord will use a woman in the way a man would normally be used. Deborah is another example of this (Judges 4:1-4).
Huldah was a faithful woman who told Josiah's servants the plain, uncompromising truth from God: "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 - because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands. Therefore my wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched" (vv.16-17). Huldah simply confirmed what Josiah had read in scripture, that a dreadful judgment would fall on Jerusalem, expressing the fierce anger of the Lord against their wickedness.
However, Huldah's prophecy also held some measure of comfort for Josiah. Because his heart was tender, and therefore he had humbled himself before the Lord when he heard the Word of God, he had torn his clothes in self-judgment and had wept before the Lord, the Lord had taken full account of his repentance (vv.18-20). For this reason the Lord assured Josiah that he himself would be taken away by death before the time of Judah's solemn calamity. This may remind us of Isaiah 57:1, "The righteous perish, and no man takes it to heart: merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from the evil." How often thus does God take away a godly person before some great trouble that would be most painful for him to witness!
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Kings 22". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany