Have you ever seen one of those shows where someone discovers an old family heirloom, it gets appraised on TV, and it turns out to be worth thousands of dollars? The shows tell stories of people who come across something in the basement tucked behind Grandpa’s old recliner chair and under a stack of decades old newspapers, and it’s revealed to be a priceless treasure. Take Rue Ferguson for example. An old painting of a lone man holding a shovel hung on the wall behind a door. “If the door was open,” Ferguson told an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow, “you couldn’t even see the painting.” Well, apparently it was an early 20th century piece of artwork by the famous Diego Rivera when the artist was only 18 years old. It is appraised at $800,000 to 1 million dollars. Whoa.
Well, our story today is a little something like that. While cleaning out the Temple during some remodeling of the house of the Lord, someone had accidentally stumbled upon the Book of the Law. God’s Word had apparently been lost, and now, upon reading the holy text, the king of Judah was stumped as to how to proceed. King Josiah was concerned that the country’s parents and grandparents hadn’t paid much attention to the laws that God had put forth and wondered with the high priest, the other priests and the secretary about what to do. However, it seems that none of these men had any idea. So, Josiah sent the whole entourage straight to Huldah.
The first time I actually heard about the prophet Huldah (not just skimmed over her in reading the larger story) was just a few months ago in a class I was taking. The ancient book gives her quite the title: “the prophetess Huldah the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe.” From the name alone I suppose that she must have been important, and adding this to the fact that King Josiah sent his men to consult her on the discovery of the Book of the Law only magnifies the greatness of her reputation. Huldah proclaimed the word of the Lord to the royal and religious men, and they returned and reported it all to the king.
In my thirty years as a baptized believer in Christ I had never known of a female prophet in the Bible. How had I missed such a strong, faithful and wise presence that we find in this woman?
Being Jews in ancient Jerusalem, how did King Josiah and all of those priests forget about the Book of the Law?
Sometimes God’s Word is like that: a hidden treasure that we accidentally stumble upon- by God’s grace and through the Spirit- like a famous painting stuck behind a door or the Book of the Law concealed in a closet somewhere in the house of the Lord or even a wise prophetess in a male-dominated biblical narrative. It can surprise us. It can shock us. It can knock us off our feet with the stories of God’s grace and compassion, God’s abundance of steadfast love and faithfulness. Today I’m thankful for the treasure of scripture. I’m grateful that all those years ago someone rediscovered the Book of the Law, and between King Josiah and the prophetess Huldah, God’s Word was returned to the people of Judah, and through them it eventually ended up in my hands.