Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.V. THE REIGN OF JOSIAH
1. The Revival
4. The reading of the law and its results (2Kings 22:10-14)
5. The words of Huldah, the prophetess (2Kings 22:15-20)
After the violent death of Amon his eight-year-old son Josiah (sustained by Jehovah) began to reign. Under him the greatest reformation and revival took place. While he was yet young he began to seek after the God of David, his father. Afterward he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem. The carved images and molten images as well as the altars of Baal were destroyed by him. “And he burnt the bones of the priests upon the altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem” (2Chronicles 34:5). Thus was fulfilled the prophecy uttered more than three hundred years before by the man of God from Judah (1Kings 13:2). Perhaps the prophecy had been forgotten, the unbelievers may have ridiculed its fulfillment. But when God’s time came He saw to the literal fulfillment of His own Word. It is so today. Rationalists scoff at the Word of God. Others spiritualize the predictions of the Bible and do not believe that they will ever be fulfilled. This is one of the characteristics of the last days of the age (2Peter 3:3-7).
We must leave it to the reader to study the details of the great reformation-revival which took place under Josiah. In the annotations on Second Chronicles we point out some of its lessons. After the breaking down of the idols and idol-altars the temple was repaired. The law was also found by Hilkiah the high-priest. The Word of the Lord written by Moses in the Pentateuch had most likely been hidden away by Manasseh. It was the accusing voice of God against the wickedness of the king. Strange it is that it is not mentioned in connection with the repentance and conversion of Manasseh. And when the law was read to the king by Shaphan, the king rent his clothes.
“Here we have a tender conscience bowing under the action of the Word of God. This was one special charm in the character of Josiah. He was, in truth, a man of an humble and contrite Spirit, who trembled at the Word of God. Would that we all knew more of this! It is a most valuable feature of the Christian character. We certainly do need to feel, much more deeply, the weight, authority, and seriousness of Scripture. Josiah had no question whatever in his mind as to the genuineness and authenticity of the words which Shaphan had read in his hearing. We do not read of his asking, ‘How am I to know that this is the Word of God?’ No; he trembled at it. He bowed before it. He was smitten down under it. He rent his garments. He did not presume to sit in judgment upon the Word of God, but, as was meet and right, he allowed that word to judge him. “Thus it should ever be. If man is to judge Scripture, then Scripture is not the Word of God at all. But if Scripture is, in very truth, the Word of God, then it must judge man. And so it is, and so it does. Scripture is the Word Of God and it judges man thoroughly. It lays bare the very roots of his nature--it opens up the foundations of his moral being. It holds up before him the only faithful mirror in which he can see himself perfectly reflected. This is the reason why man does not like Scripture--cannot bear it--seeks to set it aside--delights to pick holes in it--dares to sit in judgment upon it. It is not so in reference to other books. Men do not trouble themselves so much to discover and point out flaws and discrepancies in Homer or Herodotus, Aristotle or Shakespeare. No; but Scripture judges them--judges their ways--their lusts. Hence the enmity of the natural mind to that most precious and marvellous book which carries its own credentials to every divinely prepared heart” (Things New and Old).
The direct result of reading the Word of God was more than outward grief and repentance. The king gave the command, “Go ye, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people and for all Judah.” Jeremiah and Zephaniah were then upon the scene, but we do not read anything of them in the record. It is Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum (retribution), the son of Tikvah (meaning “hope”) the son of Harhas (meaning “extremely poor”). That he had to inquire of a woman, the weaker vessel, must have been humiliating to the king. And Huldah’s message is one of judgment. To Josiah personally good is promised. He was not to see the evil. In spite of the great reformation-revival, judgment would fall upon Judah and upon Jerusalem (verses 15-17).
And here is an important lesson for our own times. Reformations and revivals cannot keep back the decreed judgments of God. Often it is thought that great waves of reformation and revival movements are evidences that the world is getting better and that only good is in store for this age. It is forgotten that this age is an age marked by departure from God, by the rejection of His own blessed Son and by the perversion of the truth of God. It will culminate in the great apostasy and the manifestation of the man of sin--the son of perdition. Christendom has been even more unfaithful than Israel in Old Testament times. Judgment is in store for this age and for that which claims to be the church. The Lord has announced this long ago and it will surely come as judgment came upon Judah for all the abominable things they did. Reformation-revival movements are evidences, too, that the threatened judgment is not far away. As the end approaches God warns us and His Spirit presses home the truth once more to awaken the consciences of men. In 2Chronicles 36:15 we read the following words: “And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place.” But the next verse declares the failure of what the Lord had done in His compassion. “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” No remedy! an awful word it is. Judah in spite of the gracious revival under Josiah hastened on to the predicted doom, and so does this present age.