2 Chronicles 21
Never surely did any kingdom change its king so much for the worse as
Judah did, when Jehoram, one of the vilest, succeeded Jehoshaphat, one
of the best. Thus were they punished for not making a better use of
Jehoshaphat's good government, and their disaffectedness (or coldness
at least) to his reformation,
2 Chronicles 20:33.
Those that knew not now to value a good king are justly plagued with a
bad one. Here is,
I. Jehoram's elevation to the throne,
2 Chronicles 21:1-3.
II. The wicked course he took to establish himself in it, by the
murder of his brethren,
2 Chronicles 21:4.
III. The idolatries and other wickedness he was guilty of,
2 Chronicles 21:5,6,11.
IV. The prophecy of Elijah against him,
2 Chronicles 21:12-15.
V. The judgments of God upon him, in the revolt of his subjects from
(2 Chronicles 21:8-10)
and the success of his enemies against him,
2 Chronicles 21:16,17.
VI. His miserable sickness and inglorious exit,
2 Chronicles 21:18-20.
VII. The preservation of the house of David notwithstanding,
2 Chronicles 21:7.
|Jehoram's Wicked Reign.
||B. C. 889.|
1 Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with
his fathers in the city of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in
2 And he had brethren the sons of Jehoshaphat, Azariah, and
Jehiel, and Zechariah, and Azariah, and Michael, and Shephatiah:
all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel.
3 And their father gave them great gifts of silver, and of
gold, and of precious things, with fenced cities in Judah: but
the kingdom gave he to Jehoram; because he was the firstborn.
4 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.
5 Jehoram was thirty and two years old when he began to
reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem.
6 And he walked in the way 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.
7 Howbeit the LORD would not destroy the house of David,
because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he
promised to give a light to him and to his sons for ever.
8 In his days the Edomites revolted from under the dominion of
Judah, and made themselves a king.
9 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
10 So the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto
this day. The same time also did Libnah revolt from under his
hand; because he had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers.
11 Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and
caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and
compelled Judah thereto.
We find here,
I. That Jehoshaphat was a very careful indulgent father to Jehoram. He
had many sons, who are here named
(2 Chronicles 21:2),
and it is said
(2 Chronicles 21:13)
that they were better than Jehoram, had a great deal more wisdom and
virtue, and lived up to their education, which he went counter to. They
were very hopeful, and any of them more fit for the crown than he; and
yet, because he was the first-born
(2 Chronicles 21:3),
his father secured the kingdom to him, and portioned his brethren and
disposed of them so as that they would be easy and give him no
disturbance; as Abraham, when he made Isaac his heir, dismissed his
other children with gifts. Herein Jehoshaphat was very kind and fair to
his son, which might have obliged him to be respectful to him, and
tread in the steps of so good a father. But it is no new thing for the
children that have been most indulged by their parents to be least
dutiful to them. Whether in doing this he acted wisely and well for his
people, and was just to them, I cannot say. His birthright entitled him
to a double portion of his father's estate,
But if he appeared utterly unfit for government (the end of which is
the good of the people), and likely to undo all that his father had
done, it would have been better perhaps to have set him aside, and
taken the next that was hopeful, and not inclined as he was to
idolatry. Power is a sacred thing, with which men may either do much
good or much hurt; and therefore Detur digniori--Let him that
deserves it have it. Salus populi suprema lex--The security of
the people is the first consideration.
II. That Jehoram was a most barbarous brother to his father's sons. As
soon as he had settled himself in the throne he slew all his brethren
with the sword, either by false accusation, under colour of law, or
rather by assassination. By some wicked hand or other he got them all
murdered, pretending (it is likely) that he could not think himself
safe in the government till they were taken out of the way. Those that
mean ill themselves are commonly, without cause, jealous of those about
them. The wicked fear where no fear is, or pretend to do so, in order
to conceal their malice. Jehoram, it is likely, hated his brethren and
slew them for the same reason that Cain hated Abel and slew him,
because their piety condemned his impiety and won them that esteem with
the people which he had lost. With them he slew divers of the princes
of Israel, who adhered to them, or were likely to avenge their death.
The princes of Judah, those who had taught the good knowledge of the
(2 Chronicles 17:7),
are here called princes of Israel, as before fathers of Israel
(2 Chronicles 19:8),
because they were Israelites indeed, men of integrity. The sword which
the good father had put into their hands this wicked son sheathed in
their bowels. Woe unto him that thus foundeth a kingdom in blood
it will prove a foundation that will sink the superstructure.
III. That Jehoram was a most wicked king, who corrupted and debauched
his kingdom, and ruined the reformation that his good father and
grandfather had carried on: He walked in the way of the house of
(2 Chronicles 21:6),
made high places, which the people were of themselves too forward to
make, and did his utmost to set up idolatry again,
2 Chronicles 21:11.
1. As for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, where he kept his court, he
easily drew them into his spiritual whoredom: He caused them to
commit fornication, seducing them to eat things sacrificed to
2. The country people seem to have been brought to it with more
difficulty; but those that would not be corrupted by flatteries were
driven by force to partake in his abominable idolatries: He
compelled Judah thereto. He used that power for the destruction
of the church which was given him for the edification of it.
IV. That when he forsook God and his worship his subjects withdrew from
their allegiance to him.
1. Some of the provinces abroad that were tributaries to him did so.
The Edomites revolted
(2 Chronicles 21:8),
and, though he chastised them
(2 Chronicles 21:9),
yet he could not reduce them,
2 Chronicles 21:10.
2. One of the cities of his own kingdom did so. Libnah revolted
(2 Chronicles 21:10)
and set up for a free state, as of old it had a king of its own,
And the reason is here given, not only why God permitted it, but why
they did it; they shook off his government because he had forsaken the
Lord God of his fathers, had become an idolater and a worshipper of
false gods, and they could not continue subject to him without some
danger of being themselves also drawn away from God and their duty.
While he adhered to God they adhered to him; but, when he cast God off,
they cast him off. Whether this reason will justify them in their
revolt of no, it will justify God's providence which ordered it so.
V. That yet God was tender of his covenant with the house of David, and
therefore would not destroy the royal family, though it was so
wretchedly corrupted and degenerated,
2 Chronicles 21:7.
These things we had before,
2 Kings 8:19-22.
The tenour of the covenant was that David's seed should be visited for
their transgressions, but the covenant should never be broken,
|Jehoram's Miserable End.
||B. C. 884.|
12 And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet,
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,
13 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:
14 Behold, with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people,
and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods:
15 And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy
bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day
16 Moreover the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of
the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near the
17 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, the youngest of his sons.
18 And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an
19 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.
20 Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and
he reigned in Jerusalem eight years, and departed without being
desired. Howbeit they buried him in the city of David, but not in
the sepulchres of the kings.
Here we have,
I. A warning from God sent to Jehoram by a writing from Elijah the
prophet. By this it appears that Jehoram came to the throne, and showed
himself what he was before Elijah's translation. It is true we find
Elisha attending Jehoshaphat, and described as pouring water on the
hands of Elijah, after the story of Elijah's translation
(2 Kings 3:11);
but that might be, and that description might be given of him, while
Elijah was yet on earth: and it is certain that that history is put out
of its proper place, for we read of Jehoshaphat's death, and Jehoram's
coming to the crown, before we read of Elijah's translation,
1 Kings 22:50.
We will suppose that the time of his departure was at hand, so that he
could not go in person to Jehoram; but that, hearing of his great
wickedness in murdering his brethren, he left this writing it is
probable with Elisha, to be sent him by the first opportunity, that it
might either be a means to reclaim him or a witness against him that he
was fairly told what would be in the end hereof. The message is sent
him in the name of the Lord God of David his father
(2 Chronicles 21:12),
upbraiding him with his relation to David as that which, though it was
his honour, was an aggravation of his degeneracy.
1. His crimes are plainly charged upon him--his departure from the good
ways of God, in which he had been educated, and which he had been
directed and encouraged to walk in by the example of his good father
and grandfather, who lived and died in peace and honour
(2 Chronicles 21:12)--
his conformity to the ways of the house of Ahab, that impious
scandalous family--his setting up and enforcing idolatry in his
kingdom--and his murdering his brethren because they were better than
2 Chronicles 21:13.
These are the heads of the indictment against him.
2. Judgment is given against him for these crimes; he is plainly told
that his sin should certainly be the ruin,
(1.) Of his kingdom and family
(2 Chronicles 21:14):
"With a heavy stroke, even that of war and captivity, will the Lord
smite thy people and thy children," &c. Bad men bring God's
judgments upon all about them. His people justly suffer because they
had complied with his idolatry, and his wives because they had drawn
him to it.
(2.) Of his health and life: "Thou shalt have great sickness, very
painful and tedious, and at last mortal,"
2 Chronicles 21:15.
This he is warned of before, that his blood might be upon his own head,
the watchman having delivered his soul; and that when these things so
particularly foretold, came to pass, it might appear that they did not
come by chance, but as the punishment of his sins, and were so
intended. And now if, as he had learned of Ahab to do wickedly, he had
but learned even of Ahab to humble himself upon the receipt of this
threatening message from Elijah--if, like
(1 Kings 21:27),
he had rent his clothes, put on sackcloth, and fasted--who knows
but, like him, he might have obtained at least a reprieve? But it does
not appear that he took any notice of it; he threw it by as
waste-paper; Elijah seemed to him as one that mocked. But those
that will not believe shall feel.
II. The threatened judgments brought upon him because he slighted the
warning. No marvel that hardened sinners are not frightened from sin
and to repentance by the threatenings of misery in another world, which
is future and out of sight, when the certain prospect of misery in this
world, the sinking of their estates and the ruin of their healths, will
not restrain them from vicious courses.
1. See Jehoram here stripped of all his comforts. God stirred up the
spirit of his neighbours against him, who had loved and feared
Jehoshaphat, but hated and despised him, looking upon it as a
scandalous thing for a nation to change their gods. Some occasion or
other they took to quarrel with him, invaded his country, but, as it
should seem, fought neither against small nor great, but the king's
house only; they made directly to that, and carried away all the
substance that was found in it. No mention is made of their
carrying any away captive but the king's wives and his
2 Chronicles 21:17.
Thus God made it evident that the controversy was with him and his
house. Here it is only said, They carried away his sons; but we
(2 Chronicles 22:1)
that they slew them all. Blood for blood. He had slain all his
brethren, to strengthen himself; and now all his sons are slain but
one, and so he is weakened. If he had not been of the house of David,
that one would not have escaped. When Jeroboam's house, and Baasha's,
and Ahab's, were destroyed, there was none left; but David's house must
not be wholly extirpated, though sometimes wretchedly degenerated,
because a blessing was in it, no less a blessing than that of the
2. See him tormented with sore diseases and of long continuance,
such as were threatened in the law against those that would not fear
the Lord their God,
His disease was very grievous. It lay in his bowels, producing a
continual griping, and with this there was a complication of other sore
diseases. The affliction was moreover very tedious. Two years he
continued ill, and could get no relief; for the disease was incurable,
though he was in the prime of life, not forty years old. Asa, whose
heart was perfect with God though in some instances he stepped aside,
was diseased only in his feet; but Jehoram, whose heart was wicked, was
struck in his inwards, and he that had no bowels of compassion towards
his brethren was so plagued in his bowels that they fell out. Even good
men, and those who are very dear to God, may be afflicted with diseases
of this kind; but to them they are fatherly chastisements, and by the
support of divine consolations the soul may dwell at ease even then
when the body lies in pain. These sore diseases seized him just after
his house was plundered and his wives and children were carried away.
(1.) Perhaps his grief and anguish of mind for that calamity might
occasion his sickness, or at least contribute to the heightening of it.
(2.) By this sickness he was disabled to do any thing for the recovery
of them or the revenge of the injury done him.
(3.) It added, no doubt, very much to his grief, in his sickness, that
he was deprived of the society of his wives and children and that all
the substance of his house was carried away. To be sick and poor, sick
and solitary, but especially to be sick and in sin, sick and under the
curse of God, sick and destitute of grace to bear the affliction, and
of comfort to counter-balance it--is a most deplorable case.
3. See him buried in disgrace. He reigned but eight years, and then
departed without being desired,
2 Chronicles 21:20.
Nobody valued him while he lived, none lamented him when he died, but
all wished that no greater loss might ever come to Jerusalem. To show
what little affection or respect they had for him, they would not
bury him in the sepulchres of the kings, as thinking him
unworthy to be numbered among them who had governed so ill. The
excluding of his body from the sepulchres of his fathers might be
ordered by Providence as an intimation of the everlasting separation of
the souls of the wicked after death, from the spirits of just men. This
further disgrace they put upon him, that they made no burning for
him, like the burning of his fathers,
2 Chronicles 21:19.
His memory was far from being sweet and precious to them, and therefore
they did not honour it with any sweet odours or precious spices, though
we may suppose that his dead body, after so long and loathsome a
disease, needed something to perfume it. The generality of the people,
though prone to idolatry, yet had no true kindness for their idolatrous
kings. Wickedness and profaneness make men despicable even in the eyes
of those who have but little religion themselves, while natural
conscience itself often gives honour to those who are truly pious.
Those that despise God shall be lightly esteemed, as Jehoram