The humility of leadership
So Hilkiah and those whom the king had sent went to the prophet Huldah, the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe (who lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter) and spoke to her to that effect. She declared to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the Lord: I will indeed bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book that was read before the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, so that they have provoked me to anger with all the works of their hands, my wrath will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched. But as to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me, and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the Lord. I will gather you to your ancestors and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring on this place and its inhabitants.” They took the message back to the king.
Then the king sent word and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. The king went up to the house of the Lord, with all the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites, all the people both great and small; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. The king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin pledge themselves to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem acted according to the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel, and made all who were in Israel worship the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord the God of their ancestors. ~ 2 Chronicles 34:22-33
Josiah was the first king of Judah in quite a while who had any good in him. He'd done a great job of restoring the temple and removing the false idols and priests from Jerusalem.
But when someone found the book or scroll of the law of Moses and they saw what kind of condemnation Judah was in for from God because of their sinfulness, Josiah sent his people to see Huldah the prophet - a woman! - to ask for guidance.
His humility in a) going to a female prophet, and b) making signs of repentance for his country before God, ended up saving his life.
It takes a lot for a leader to admit when they are wrong, or when their country is wrong.
There seems to be a big movement by leaders in our country to deny the sins of the past - sins of slavery and treatment of indigenous people - as if denying them will somehow wash them away as if they didn't happen.
Yet it is repentance and humility that we are called to. It is owning up to past sins that blots them away and makes new. Past sins happened, and while it might be hard to own up to them, it is in doing so that leaders and nations become saved.
Holy God, move me toward justice, mercy, and humility in all my dealings with your people. Amen