2 Kings 22



The Book of the Law Found (22:1-20)

(2 Chronicles 34:1-28)

1-7 During the long reign of Josiah’s grandfather Manasseh, the temple had fallen into disrepair; so one of the first things Josiah did as king was to order that the temple be repaired. Even before that, according to 2 Chronicles 34:3-7, Josiah had begun to destroy the pagan altars and idols that had been set up all over Judah; he even carried his reforms into Israel itself, which at that time was inhabited mainly by the foreign settlers sent there by the Assyrians84 (2 Chronicles 34:6-7). It is unclear to what extent Josiah was able to reclaim the territory of Israel from the Assyrians; by Josiah’s time the power of Assyria had declined greatly, having been surpassed by the rising power of Babylon.

8-10 When the king’s secretary went to Hilkiah the high priest to get the repair work under way, Hilkiah showed him the Book of the Law, which he had just recently discovered. This Book consisted of part or all of the book of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 31:9,24-26); each king was supposed to have his own copy and follow it carefully (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

11-13 When the secretary read to Josiah from the Book of the Law, Josiah tore his robes in grief (verse 11). Why? Because also written in this book were the curses that would fall on God’s people if they continued to break His covenant laws (Deuteronomy 28:58-61; 29:21). Josiahrealized that Judah was in great danger. He immediately sent Hilkiah, together with his secretary and other officials, to inquire of the LORD about His intentions regarding these curses: would they fall upon Judah or not?

14-17 The men went to a prophetess named Huldah, and through her the Lord gave His answer: Judah’s fate was sealed; the curses would indeed fall. Because the people of Judah had persisted in their idolatry for so long, the Lord’s anger had reached its peak and could no longer be quenched (verse 17). The Lord’s words spoken by Huldah were similar to words spoken by other prophets during the reign of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:10-15)words that the people had not heeded. Now the final judgment was about to fall.

18-20 However, once again the judgment on Judah would be postponed; it would not fall during Josiah’s lifetime. Because of his humility and grief, Josiah would be buried in peace85 (verse 20). Only after his death would the final disaster strike.

Notice that by one man’s repentance—Josiah’s (verse 11)—an entire generation was spared. But God doesn’t listen only to the prayers of kings and priests; He listens to the sincere prayers of every believer. Our prayers too can make an enormous difference, not only in our own life but also in the life of our church and our nation.