2 KINGS CHAPTER 22.
The Finding of the Book of the Law under Josiah.
JOSIAHíS GOOD REIGN. ó V. 1. Josiah was eight years old, his father having died at the age of twenty-four, when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his motherís name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath, a town in the Plain of Judah. It was doubtless due to the influence of his God-fearing mother that Josiah was trained to observe the ways of the Lord. V. 2. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David, his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; he clung to all the precepts of the Lord with unwavering firmness. V. 3. And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of King Josiah that the king sent Shaphan, the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, the secretary of state, who was in charge of the finances, to the house of the Lord, saying, v. 4. Go up to Hilkiah, the high priest, that he may sum the silver, get it ready for payment by having the priests in charge place it in sacks and weigh it, which is brought into the house of the Lord, the old rule of the payment of funds into the Temple treasury still holding good, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people; v. 5. and let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord, the overseers and contractors in charge of the various repairs which the king contemplated; and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house, the inspectors taking care of the workmenís pay, v.6. unto carpenters and builders and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. Cp. chap. 12, 11-16. Since the Temple had not been repaired for more than two centuries, the idea of the king was very timely. V. 7. Howbeit, there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand because they dealt faithfully; trustworthy men being in charge of the money, no special accounting was demanded. V. 8. And Hilkiah, the high priest, who knew of the kingís plan and had undertaken to bring order into the Sanctuary, said unto Shaphan, the scribe, I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord. The existence of this book, apparently the copy made by Moses, had been known, but it had been lost sight of for a while; in other words, Hilkiah had come across it almost by accident as he was straightening up in the Sanctuary. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. V. 9. And Shaphan, the scribe, came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, the priests in charge had poured out the money from the large chest into small sacks, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord. It was a special grace of God that this sacred book, the authentic copy, was discovered, for it helped the king in his campaign for the restoration of the pure worship, even more than the manuscript copies which were ordinarily in use. It was a special act of Godís grace that the Reformation restored the Bible to us in all its purity, teaching us the way of salvation aright.
THE BOOK OF THE LAW READ BEFORE THE KING, AND THE RESULTS. ó V. 10. And Shaphan, the scribe, showed the king, he made a report to him, saying, Hilkiah, the priest, hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king, not the entire roll at this time, but certain passages. V. 11. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the Book of the Law, the original, as usual, making a much deeper impression upon the hearer than the copies which were often neglected, that he rent his clothes, his entire soul being stirred by the impressive ordinances and filled with sorrow as he realized his shortcomings. V. 12. And the king commanded Hilkiah, the priest, and Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, and Achbor, the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan, the scribe, and Asahiah, a servant of the kingís, one of his officers, saying, v. 13. Go ye, enquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah, the entire nation, concerning the words of this book that is found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, as he could see from such passages as Lev. 26 and Deut. 28, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. The inquiry thus chiefly had the purpose of finding out whether there were still hope for grace, whether the threatened punishments might still be averted. V. 14. So Hilkiah, the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah went unto Huldah, the prophetess, who at that time was the only one in the city possessing the gift of prophecy, the wife of Shallum, the son of Tikvali, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe, either of the priestly vestments in the Temple or of the royal garments for state occasions; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college, in the second district of the lower city, which was afterward included within the walls;) and they communed with her. V. 15. And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me, the first part of the message being of a general nature, v. 16. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, Jerusalem as the capital of the nation, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read, the curses upon disobedience would surely be fulfilled, v. 17. because they have forsaken Me, and have burned incense unto other gods, indulged in gross and shameless idolatry, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands, with the idol statues which they had made. Therefore My wrath shall be kindled against this place and shall not be quenched, the punishment was sure to come. V. 18. But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, in a special message concerning his rule alone, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard, v. 19. because thine heart was tender, not hardened in obstinacy and sin as that of some of his predecessors, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, appealing to Him in repentance and humility, when thou heardest what I spake against this place and against the Inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me, in terror, dismay, and repentance, I also have heard thee, saith the Lord, namely, his appeal for mercy. V. 20. Behold, therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace, without seeing the desolation of Jerusalem, although he himself was killed in battle, chap. 23, 29; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place, he would not witness its destruction with all its attendant horrors. And they brought the king word again, they reported to him what they had heard from the prophetess. Those who truly humble themselves under the Word of God will escape the judgment which will strike the disobedient and willful malefactors.