Huldah the prophetess had a difficult message to share with the people of Judah. Yet she bravely and faithfully delivered God’s warnings about the disobedience of Judah. Like Huldah in the Bible, each of us is called to listen to the Holy Spirit and share God’s message with boldness.
She is Called Women of the Bible Study Vol. 3
Huldah: Bold Prophetess of God
by Rev. Olga and Rev. Stephen Shaffer
Triune God, you called Huldah to stand firm upon your word and speak it boldly. May you strengthen and embolden us to remain rooted in all you have to say to us and through us. In Jesus’s name, amen.
2 Kings 22:8-20
“The priest Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the prophetess Huldah … [and] consulted her” (2 Kings 22:14).
Introduction to Huldah in the Bible
God sent prophets to call his people back to him. During the period of the kings, both Israel and Judah slowly spiraled downward into disobedience. After David and Solomon, the kingdom was split in two and the people began to wander from God into wickedness and disobedience. There were occasional good and faithful kings, but most were not. Repeatedly, God sent prophets to call them to return to the Lord, to return to their first love. Elijah and Elisha, Micah and Amos, Ezekiel and Jeremiah were all sent by the Lord to speak his word so the people would repent and return. Sometimes the people listened, and sometimes they did not. One of the lesser known prophets, though no less significant, was a woman named Huldah.
Digging Deeper: Huldah the Prophetess and Her Biblical Role
At the mere age of 8, Josiah became king of Judah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. The Bible tells us that he was the first, and only, king who loved God with all his heart, soul, and might (2 Kings 23:25). Josiah was sincere and upright.
A key turning point in Josiah’s reign occurred in his 18th year as king. While cleansing the Temple, Hilkiah, the high priest, discovered the Book of the Law (likely a form of Deuteronomy). When the book was read to him, Josiah tore his robes in grief. He and God’s people had not obeyed the words of this book. They had fallen short and had not done those things which they ought to have done. They had fallen short of what God commanded them to do. Josiah knew that God must have been angry with them.
Seeking reconciliation with God, Josiah sent Hilkiah the priest and four other men (Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah) to speak to the prophetess Huldah. Huldah, married to Shallum, keeper of the king’s robes, was a scholar of high rank in Jerusalem. She was a woman of authority, and people listened to what she said. These men were no exception.
Huldah prophesied to them, saying God was about to bring disaster to this place and these people, according to all that Josiah had read. Because they had abandoned God and sought other lovers—idols—God’s anger would burn against the people for what they had done. They could not escape destruction and would be punished for abandoning God. However, because Josiah had repented and humbled himself before God, tore his robes and wept in God’s presence, Josiah would die in peace. He would be spared. He had done his best to lead his people back to God, and so God would let him die before destruction would be brought upon them.
In the years to come, Huldah’s prophecies would prove true. The reign of Josiah would be a period of calm and peace before the storm. In the days of Josiah’s sons, Judah would fall and the people would enter exile. But Josiah himself would die in peace.
Huldah’s prophecy was brought back to the king. Josiah heard Huldah’s words as a word from the Lord. The king then called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He and all the people of Judah, from the least to the greatest, went to the Temple in Jerusalem. There, for all to hear, he read from the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the Temple. In the presence of the Lord, the king renewed his covenant with God. He would follow the Lord, keep God’s commands, statutes, and decrees, with all his heart and all his soul. And all the people, too, followed him, and pledged themselves to the covenant. When a spiritual crisis gripped the king and the nation, Josiah sent for a woman known for her wisdom and authority. Huldah the prophetess spoke God’s word faithfully, even when the words she was given were challenging. The king listened to this godly woman and turned his heart and his people to follow the Lord.
She Is Called and We are Called
The story of Huldah in the Bible is a challenge and encouragement for all who seek to follow God and proclaim his word, but especially for women.
First, where does King Josiah go when he reads the recently discovered Book of the Law and realizes how far the nation has departed from God’s ways? Do Hilkiah the priest and the others search for Jeremiah, who was also a prophet in the days of King Josiah (Jeremiah 1:2-3)? Do they consult with the prophet Zephaniah, who also prophesied during Josiah’s reign (Zephaniah 1:1)? No, they immediately go to Huldah the prophetess. The king and the priest seek to learn the will of God and they go to the woman, Huldah. This shows her stature as a prophet, even in a time when God also provided male prophets.
We should also notice the boldness of Huldah the prophetess. She spoke the word of God, just as any other prophet did—curse and blessing, judgment and restoration. Four times in a matter of five verses, she indicates that what she speaks comes from the Lord (vv. 15, 16, 18, 19). She preaches to them, declaring the very words of God. She spoke this even to the king and to the priests, the most powerful men in the nation of that day. Huldah the prophetess was filled with the same Spirit of boldness that filled Peter when he proclaimed the word of God to the leaders of Israel, proclaiming the need to obey God rather than humans (Acts 4:19, 5:29).
Lastly, Huldah was subservient to the Word of God. Her prophetic words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, but she remained rooted and subservient to the word of God. She proclaimed the coming judgment upon Judah “according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read” (2 Kings 22:16). She stood firm upon the Word of God and, therefore, her bold words rested on a solid foundation. This is a challenge for men and women who are called to speak on behalf of God. When we preach, however boldly, our words should be “according to what is written in the book” of God’s Word, just as Huldah’s were.
God called the prophetess Huldah to speak the word of the Lord to the king. In a time when there were other significant male prophets, the king, priest, and other leaders came to Huldah because they recognized her wisdom and authority. She spoke boldly on the firm foundation of God’s word. The king listened and the people entered a period of renewal under Josiah’s leadership.
Few of us may ever be asked to speak to a king. However, God still calls men and women to speak his word with boldness, to stand firm on his Word, and trust that God will bring about his will through it. Huldah the prophetess is a vivid example of a godly woman who answered God’s call to speak his word. Whether you stand behind a pulpit, sit around a table, or walk beside a friend, Huldah’s calling shows the need for all of us to be men and women of the Word.
- Huldah was called to speak God’s word to the king. Where is God calling you to speak in your life?
- When has someone spoken God’s word into your life? How did you respond?
- What surprised you in this Bible study session?
- What do you hear the Spirit saying to you/your family/your church/your community?
Rev. Olga and Rev. Stephen Shaffer served as co-pastors at the Reformed Church of Stout in Stout, Iowa, for five years before moving to Brantford, Ontario, where Stephen currently serves as the pastor of Bethel Reformed Church. Olga is at home full-time with their three kids. Stephen is the author of Our Only Comfort: Daily Devotions through the Heidelberg Catechism (2021) and Rooted: Growing in Christ in a Rootless Age (2022).
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This Bible study is from the third book in the Women of the Bible Study Series. Get the book to discover how Rahab, Lydia, Eve, Naomi, Achsah, Huldah, and more embraced God’s call for their lives.