(Exalted by Jehovah)
(1 Kings 22:50; 2 Kings 8:16-24; 2 Chron. 21)
“Give not thy…ways to that which destroyeth kings.”—Proverbs 31:3
Of the seven sons of Jehoshaphat, Jehoram was the eldest; and to him his father gave the kingdom, “because he was the first-born.” It would seem, from 2 Kings 8:16, that he associated Jehoram with him on the throne during his lifetime. He probably foresaw and feared what was likely to occur after his death; and to avert, if possible, any such disaster, he endeavored to have the throne well secured to Jehoram before his decease. And to conciliate his remaining six sons, he “gave them great gifts of silver, and of gold, and of precious things, with fenced cities in Judah.” They were not, probably, all children of one mother, as two of them bear exactly the same name—Azariah. This would make dissension among them all the more likely, and it is a warning to all to see Jehoshaphat ending his days with this threatening storm-cloud hanging over his house.
It was all the result of his ill-advised alliance with the ungodly house of Ahab, and what he sowed he, by dread anticipation at least, reaped. And his pos- terity were made to reap it actually, in a most terrible way. “Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel.” He had married the daughter of a “murderer” (2 Kings 6:32), and as a natural consequence he soon imbrued his own hands in blood. “Jehoram was thirty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord.”
Decadence of power at once set in, which the neighboring nations were not slow to perceive, and take advantage of. “In his days the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of Judah, and made themselves a king. Then Jehoram went forth with his princes, and all his chariots with him: and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him in, and the captains of the chariots.” This happened at Zair (2 Kings 8:21), in Idumea, south of the Dead Sea. He barely escaped destruction, or capture, being surrounded by the enemy. He managed to extricate himself by a night surprise, but the expedition was a failure. “So the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day.” The spirit of rebellion spread: “The same time also did Libnah revolt from under his hand; because he had forsaken the Lord God of his fathers.”
His attitude toward idolatry was the exact reverse of that of his father. “He made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto,” or, “seduced Judah” (N. Tr.). He undid, so far as lay in his power, all the good work of his father Jehoshaphat. But how dearly he paid for his wickedness! “And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet (written prophetically before his translation, evidently), saying, Thus saith the Lord God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, but hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself: behold, with a great plague will the Lord smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: and thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.”
Elijah’s ministry and field of labor had been, it would seem, exclusively among the ten tribes, the kingdom of Israel. But the servant of God is used here for a message to the king of Judah. And as it was prophesied to him, so it came to pass. “The Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the Ethiopians: and they came up into Judah, and brake into it, and carried away all the substance that was found in the king’s house, and his sons also, and his wives; so that there was never a son left him, save Jehoahaz (called Ahaziah, 2 Chron. 22:1), the youngest of his sons. And after all this, (terrible as the stroke was) the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers.” What a terrible recompense for his murders and idolatries! God made a signal example of him, that his successors might “see it and fear.”
“Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years, and departed without being desired [regretted]. Howbeit they buried him in the city of David, but not in the sepulchres of the kings.” He is one of the most unlovely of all the kings of Judah. “Exalted by Jehohovah,” he was for his wickedness thrust down to a dishonored grave. He took the kingdom when raised to its highest glory since the days of Solomon, and left it, after a reign of eight short years, with “Ichabod” (
the glory is departed) written large upon it.
The proverb, “One sinner destroyeth much good” (Eccl. 9:18), was sadly exemplified in this unhappy Jehoram’s life. The lifetime’s labor of some devoted man of God may be easily and quickly ruined, or marred, by some such “sinner.” We see this illustrated in the case of Paul. After his departure, “grievous wolves” entered in among the flocks gathered by his toils and travail; also of their own selves men arose, “speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” And even before his martyrdom he wrote, weeping, of “the enemies of the cross of Christ,” and was compelled to say, “All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” Also, “All they which be in Asia are turned away from me.” And one has only to compare the writings of the earliest Greek fathers (so-called) with the writings of the apostle, to see how widespread and complete was the departure from the truth of Christianity. “Nevertheless [blessed word!] the foundation of God standeth sure.” “And,”the exhortation is, “let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19). Oh, let not
me be the “sinner” to “destroy the work of God” (Rom. 14:20).