For our on-going series seeking the Beatitudes in the Old Testament, welcome a special guest for this month: Leigh Powers. You'll be blessed by Leigh's reflections on an Old Testament prophet you probably don't know! Read more about Leigh at the end of the post.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. –Matthew 5:6
Huldah lived through some of the
darkest days of Judah’s history,
but she never stopped hungering
and thirsting for righteousness.
Scripture remembers Josiah as one of Israel’s greatest kings, but at the center of Josiah’s story is a woman who we sometimes forget: the prophet Huldah. Huldah lived through some of the darkest days of Judah’s history, but she never stopped hungering and thirsting for righteousness. She remained resolutely committed to God and God’s Word, and the Lord saw that her hunger for righteousness was satisfied.
To understand Huldah’s story and why she hungered for righteousness, we have to go back to the reign of Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh.
Manasseh and his son, Amon, were two of Israel’s worst kings. The Scriptures say Manasseh “shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end” (2 Kings 21:16). Amon reigned for only two years before his court officials conspired against him and assassinated him.
The next king, Josiah, made a clean break with his father and grandfather. Josiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:2). When Josiah was twenty-six years old, he ordered his court officials to work with the priests to restore the temple. As the work proceeded, the workers discovered the Book of the Law somewhere within the temple. This scroll, containing either a portion of Deuteronomy or the entire book, had been lost.
Hilkiah the priest brought the scroll to Josiah’s secretary, who read it to the king. Josiah had obeyed God as fully as he knew how, but hearing the word of the Lord read aloud provoked his grief. He tore his clothes in mourning, realizing how fully Judah had broken their covenant with God and how severe the penalty might be. He needed confirmation that this scroll was indeed the word of the Lord, so he assembled a group of his top officials to find out.
Josiah’s officials went to Huldah.
They could have their pick of
prophets. Why choose Huldah?
Why Huldah? They could have their pick of prophets. Jeremiah was active at this time and so was Zephaniah. Part of it may have been proximity and familiarity. Huldah was the wife of a prominent member of the court and her home in Jerusalem’s new quarter would have been easily accessible.
Her maturity may also have been a factor. the king’s men went to Huldah instead of summoning her to come to them. This may indicate something of the deep respect in which they held her. A woman who was respected enough for high officials to go to her for counsel and advice was likely an older woman. Quite possibly, Huldah was old enough to have lived through those years when Manasseh was worshipping idols and filling Israel with innocent blood. We know there were prophets during Manasseh’s reign (2 Kings 21:10) who warned the nation about the consequences of abandoning God. Was Huldah one of them?
We can’t say for sure, but what we do know is this: When the king’s men brought the scroll to Huldah, she displayed an unwavering commitment to the Word of God.
Hear Huldah’s message to Josiah:
This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, “This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.” –2 Kings 22:15-20
It couldn’t have been an easy message to deliver: disaster, anger, burning, a curse. Josiah was a good man who had done his best to follow God’s commands. Yet Huldah was passionate about righteousness. She verified that the words of the book were true. Judgment was coming, but because Josiah had humbled himself before God, the Lord would also show mercy. Huldah became the first person in Scripture to authenticate the written and authoritative word of God.
Huldah was resolute about delivering
the full counsel of the Word, even
when it was hard to hear.
To hunger after righteousness is to desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. Despite living in a day when God’s word literally had been lost, Huldah remained committed to the word of God. She was resolute about delivering the full counsel of the Word, even when it meant speaking truths that were hard to hear. Above all else, Huldah desired to please God and to be found faithful.
Huldah’s hunger for righteousness was satisfied. Josiah received her message and humbled himself before God. He gathered the leaders of Jerusalem and all the people of Judah, then had the Book of the Law read aloud in their hearing. He led the people to repent and renew their covenant with the Lord, and they purged Judah of all their idols. Finally, Josiah led the people to celebrate the Passover. It was the first national Passover celebration Judah had held since the days of the Judges (2 Kings 23:22-23). Huldah’s commitment to God’s word helped Josiah usher in revival.
Huldah is only mentioned briefly in Scripture, but her commitment to God’s word helped restore righteousness to the nation. What would God do with a nation of people who hunger and thirst for his righteousness? We may not always see the fruits of our faithfulness, but we do know this: Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied.
What will you hunger for?
Huldah’s desire for righteousness changed the course of a whole nation. She’s this month’s Old Testament example of one of Jesus’ beatitudes. My best #satisfaction is #NotAboutMe, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)
Did you know Huldah before you read this? What inspires you about her? For me, it’s that she desired righteousness for her whole nation, not just for herself. Bless Leigh (and me) with a response in the comments below!
Leigh Powers is the author of Renewed: A 40-Day Devotional for Healing from Church Hurt and for Loving Well in Ministry. An award-winning author and speaker, Leigh is passionate about helping women find their place in God’s story. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website, http://www.leighpowers.com.
Read more from Leigh over on Intentional Parenting: Raising Whole Kids in a Broken World