Huldah is one of only four women in the Old Testament who are clearly defined as prophets- Deborah, Huldah, Miriam, and Isaiah’s wife.
Hulda’s story is told in 17 verses in 2 Kings 22:14-20 and 2 Chronicles 34: 22-33. Her story is told briefly and with little explanation, but we can learn valuable lessons simply by asking the right questions.
Here’s the back story. Josiah is the last good King in Judah. Judah has fallen into idol worship. Josiah wants to rebuild the temple and restore faith in God. Hilkiah, the priest, finds an old scroll in the temple’s ruins and passes it to the King’s secretary, Shaphan, who brings it to the King.
When the King heard the Books of the Law, he tore his robes in grief. He said,
“Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”2 Kinga 22:14 NIV
Josiah was heartbroken and afraid, and he needed to know if the scroll was accurate, so he sent five of his most trusted men to Huldah, a woman but also identified as a prophetess in Judah (2 Kings 22:14) Like reading that Phoebe was a deaconess in Cenchrea, once again, the words jump off the page. Hulda, a woman, a prophet.
It would seem that gender was not an issue. The prophet Jeremiah was also active in the region at that time. If the prophet Jeremiah was available, it amazes me that they chose to consult a woman over a male prophet. Why did Josiah choose Huldah over Jeremiah?
I can think of several reasons. Most important to us is that she had proven herself to those who knew her or knew of her. How many years, I wonder, did she spend patiently listening, advising, and teaching? How long before she earned a reputation for speaking God’s truth, for integrity, wisdom, and the ability to speak the prophetic word?
Although her husband was a part of the royal household, as a valet to the King, it was not necessarily her husband’s position or her relation to him that earned her an honorable reputation.
Consider this. Every man who walks into a board room must first prove himself to earn the right to speak and be heard. The same goes for any woman in a similar situation. We must first earn the right to speak and the right to be heard. Do I have to point out that I refer here to education, experience, and proven ability?
Her reputation preceded her all the way to the throne room. Huldah had clearly earned the trust of the people and even of the King. Anyone, then or now, who would speak God’s truth must be a person above reproach.
James 3: 1 warns us
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.James 3:1 NIV
An unproven teacher lacking wisdom and clear knowledge could potentially lead many astray. Teachers will be judged by a higher standard and should endeavor to live, learn and teach from a more informed position. A teacher, or any spiritual leader, must not only know the word but be able to discern what is and what is not in God’s character.
After the King read the scrolls and the terrible judgment to come, he may have hoped Huldah, as a woman, might provide a more compassionate and merciful interpretation. Women, by our nature, tend to want to soften the hard news. Not so, Huldah.
If her gender did not prevent her from earning the title prophetess, neither did it prevent her from speaking God’s truth. The unvarnished, straight to the point, hard facts, truth.
Keep in mind that Hudah was invited to speak and verify the prophecy. She did not use her position, her husband’s influence, or even her own reputation to insert herself into the situation. Wisdom is knowing, as Solomon wrote, that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent.
The scroll was probably a portion of Deuteronomy that speaks of judgment for Judah for failing to keep God’s laws, for idolatry, and other sins against God. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 13-15 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68)
God often used harsh judgments, just as a good parent uses discipline. When loving entreaties prove ineffective, more disagreeable measures may be necessary. God’s judgments were not punitive. Judgment was the effort of a loving God to turn his people back to him and to righteous living. Just as parents would prefer to love on their children than discipline them, we learned that from God. He most desires to bless us. It is our poor choices that lead us into judgment over blessing.
Huldah had an additional prophetic word for the King. Huldah proclaimed that because Josiah was humble and sincere in his desire to turn Judah back to God, God would spare him having to witness the terrible events predicted. Josiah would die before those tragedies came to pass.
Josiah heeded Huldah’s confirmation of God’s words and led one of the most remarkable religious reforms in the history of the Old Testament. And, of course, all that Huldah predicted came to pass.
Today in Jerusalem, there are several gates, now bricked in, named the Huldah gates. It is believed that it is from these now filled archways that she would have positioned herself to speak, to teach, and to counsel those seeking to know the heart of God in a matter.
It encourages me to know that God used women, even if all their stories were not recorded for us today. We don’t even know Isaiah’s wife’s name because women were not always named in the Bible or in history. Men may have thought it unimportant to include their names but God never the less used women in key roles in the history of the Bible. We have their stories, and we can be sure, God still uses women today.
I would like to see changes in how so many of our churches treat women regarding positions of authority and how certain scriptures are interpreted and applied. We’ll talk more about that in a later post.
For now, I see in Huldah the need for wisdom and for patience as we allow God to make a clear path for us to follow. When God presents us an opportunity, when God wants His truth known, like Huldah, we will speak boldly and confidently, knowing we have received our calling from God and that God has opened the doors for us to fulfill that calling.
In the meantime, we continue to be faithful. You don’t need a title to follow after the heart of God.
We can be confident that no one and nothing can prevent the fulfillment of God’s call on our lives until the day that we are needed and called upon to speak God’s truth.
And he gives grace generously
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”James 4:6
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.James 4:10
Why Doesn’t God Just Heal Me
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Why Doesn’t God Just Heal Me – available on Amazon.com
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Having endured an undiagnosed illness for thirty years, I prayed daily for healing and diligently searched the Bible to answer the questions we all ask when faith does not seem to be enough.
With a comprehensive and balanced application of scripture, I address the topic of healing and answer the questions that test our faith.