Huldah: a Prophet and Teacher (2 Kings 22)
One of the most important but sometimes under-valued professions is that of teacher. We may prosper or fail, depending on the quality of the teachers we've had. For some people everything hangs on the quality of education they receive. In 2 Kings we meet a teacher who had this level of impact not only for one student but for an entire nation.
To pick up the thread of Old Testament history, David's nemesis, King Saul, died and David succeeded him to the throne. After a long and successful rule, David was followed by his son Solomon. But after Solomon's death, the kingdom began to unravel with fighting between rival kings in the north (Israel) and in the south (Judah). While some of the kings in the next two centuries were faithful to the Lord, most kings forsook Israel's God in favor of pagan worship. As a result the northern kingdom had become so evil that God brought in the Assyrian forces to conquer and disperse the people. In the south, things were only marginally better. Many of Judah’s rulers acted evilly, until one young king with a heart for God came to the throne. His name was Josiah.
By Josiah’s time God's temple in Jerusalem had been trashed with idol worship, and Josiah ordered a thorough clean-up project in order to return the temple to God. In the process of this renovation, a workman found an ancient manuscript, which he turned over to Hilkiah, the high priest. The king's courtiers couldn't understand this document, but when a part of it was read to the king, he recognized that. God's wrath was about to descend on Judah for all its evil practices. But was there more? Josiah ordered his staff to locate a reliable prophet to explain the complete contents of the scroll.
Jeremiah was prophesying in Jerusalem at that time (Jeremiah 1:2), as was Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1:1). But the high priest turned not to these male prophets, but to a woman named Huldah living in the Second District, the university district. Scholars believe she was a teacher, and we know from the Bible that she was also a prophet.
Does it surprise you that the high priest and the king's secretary chose a woman to interpret the manuscript for them? As we listen to her speech to the king and his court (2 Kings 22:14-20), we hear a straight-shooter speaking. She did not mince words. Yes, the nation was headed to destruction. No, this would not happen during Josiah's reign because he honored the Lord God. But his successors would be evil men, and eventually the nation would go into captivity in Babylon.
Huldah was a true helper (ezer) in that she came to the aid of her king and nation, using her intellectual and spiritual gifts. She helped these leaders understand the Word of the Lord, and as a result Josiah instituted a massive purge of idols from every part of Judah's territory. On the basis of Huldah’s teaching, all those living in Judah were saved from imminent destruction.
At times women may find their work routine interrupted by a request to step into a different role, one that pushes them to speak for God in a public arena. Huldah's experience challenges women to accept these new opportunities without shying away from them. In the process, they may discover that God uses their gifts in a new way, or gives them new gifts altogether.