The mission? Write a post that highlights feminine images of God found in the Scriptures or that celebrates the importance of women in the church.
When I read Rachel’s post, I immediately thought, “I have just the thing.” Then to my dismay, someone much smarter beat me to the punch in sharing what has to be one of the most striking examples of divine feminine imagery in Scripture. For more see J.R. Daniel Kirk’s post. You’ll never think of Amy Grant’s 1982 hit the same way.
As a consolation prize, I’ve chosen to tell the story of Huldah instead.
(Huldah technically doesn’t meet Rachel’s criteria, since she’s neither a feminine image for God nor an important woman from the church. But I think I’ll get by on a technicality .)
The scene: It’s about 40 years before the fall of Jerusalem. God’s people have strayed far from the covenant, led by one bad king after another. When Josiah comes to the throne, he makes a valiant but ultimately doomed effort to turn things around.
He “seeks the God of his father David.” He bulldozes pagan worship sites. He orders the temple, God’s dwelling place, restored.
At one point the high priest — a male, as John Piper would no doubt remind us — stumbles across a dusty old scroll. It’s the lost Book of the Law, Israel’s covenant with God. (It’s a sign of how bad things were that the priests had mislaid it in the first place.)
Hilkiah the priest reads the scroll to Josiah, and the king is shattered. He realizes just how badly God’s people have trampled the covenant. So he gives these orders:
Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found.
Note very carefully: the whole nation needs someone who can tell them what the Book of the Law means for them. They need someone who can give them a definitive, authoritative word from the Lord.
It’s not like they don’t have options. There are other prophets open for business. One of the all-time heavy hitters, Jeremiah, was active during Josiah’s reign.
So who do God’s king and high priest turn to for a word from the Lord?
(Given that Huldah is not high on the list of popular baby names, it might be helpful at this point to emphasize this is, in fact, a woman’s name.)
Huldah’s moment in the sun is admittedly brief. But that in no way diminishes the profound, paradigm-shattering significance of her story.
Yes, all the priests in the Old Testament were men. So were just about all the kings. But in the people’s darkest hour, when the king and his priests needed a clear word from the Lord, who did they turn to?
It’s a shame no one reminded Huldah she wasn’t allowed to teach men.