|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
22:11-20 The book of the law is read before the king. Those best honour their Bibles, who study them; daily feed on that bread, and walk by that light. Convictions of sin and wrath should put us upon this inquiry, What shall we do to be saved? Also, what we may expect, and must provide for. Those who are truly apprehensive of the weight of God's wrath, cannot but be very anxious how they may be saved. Huldah let Josiah know what judgments God had in store for Judah and Jerusalem. The generality of the people were hardened, and their hearts unhumbled, but Josiah's heart was tender. This is tenderness of heart, and thus he humbled himself before the Lord. Those who most fear God's wrath, are least likely to feel it. Though Josiah was mortally wounded in battle, yet he died in peace with God, and went to glory. Whatever such persons suffer or witness, they are gathered to the grave in peace, and shall enter into the rest which remaineth for the people of God.
Verse 11. - And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the Law, that he rent his clothes. To Josiah the book was evidently, as to Hilkiah, in some sort a discovery. It was not, however, a wholly new thing; rather, he accepted it as the recovery of a thing that was known to have been lost, and was now happily found. And in accepting it he regarded it as authoritative. It was not to him "a book of Law" (Ewald), but "the book of the Law." We can well imagine that, although the book may have been lost early in Manasseh's reign, yet echoes of it had lingered on
(1) in the liturgies of the Jehovistic worship;
(2) in the teachings of the prophets;
(3) in the traditional teaching of religious families; so that the pious ear recognized its phrases as familiar.
It is also probable that there were external tokens about the book indicative of its character, which caused its ready acceptance.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law,.... From whence it appears that he had never wrote out a copy of it, as the kings of Israel were ordered to do, when they came to the throne, Deuteronomy 17:18 nor had read it, at least not the whole of it; and yet it seems strange that he should be twenty six years of age, as he now was, and had proceeded far in the reformation of worship, and yet be without the book of the law, and the high priest also; it looks as if it was, as some have thought, that they had till now only some abstracts of the law, and not the whole: and perhaps the reformation hitherto carried on chiefly lay in abolishing idolatry, and not so much in restoring the ordinances of worship to their purity; for it was after this that the ordinance of the passover was ordered to be kept; and when the king observed, on hearing the law read, that it had not been kept as it should, that such severe threatenings were denounced against the transgressors of it;
that he rent his clothes; as expressive of the rending of his heart, and of his humiliation and sorrow for the sins he and his people were guilty of.
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