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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

2 Chronicles 21

 

 

Verses 1-20

THE REIGN OF JEHORAM

(vv.1-20)

Though verse 1 speaks of Jehoram's reigning when Jehoshaphat died, it is made clear in 2 Kings 8:16 that Jehoram began to reign before Jehoshaphat's death, for it reads, "In the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram. the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, began to reign" (JND Trans.). Evidently Jehoshaphat gave his son the place of reigning along with himself, or as regent.

Jehoshaphat had seven sons, but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram. the firstborn, though giving also great gifts to each of his six brothers, including fortified cities in Judah. But Jehoram was a far different character than his father, and soon expressed the wickedness of his character by killing all his brothers as soon as he was established over the kingdom, and killing also other princes of Israel whom he might suspect of having any aspirations of reigning.

Why did he not follow the godliness of his father? One reason is that his father had left him the bad example of having bad friends. Since Jehoshaphat was friendly with Ahab, his son Jehoram married Ahab's daughter Athaliah, who was no less wicked than her parents (v.6).

Yet in spite of Jehoram's wickedness, the Lord would not destroy the house of David because of his promise to David and to David's descendants (v.7). Thus the grace of God is emphasised as greater than judgment, though in righteous government God would bring serious suffering on Israel. This is seen in verse 8, as Edom revolted against the rule of Judah. Jehoram attempted to bring Edom back under subjection, but could do nothing (vv.9-10). Libnah also revolted, and the reason is simply given. The Lord allowed this because Jehoram had forsaken the Lord.

Jehoshaphat had not done away with the high places, but Jehoram added to these, causing the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit harlotry, that is, idolatry by means of the high places, for though at first they claimed to have the high places for the worship of God, this very soon developed into the worship of idols. Similarly, our desire for high recognition by men in our outward worship of God will very easily become virtual idolatry. God will be displaced and Satan's counterfeit will take God's place.

God had anticipated the evil of Jehoram, however, in having before inspired Elijah (previous to his translation) to write a letter of solemn reproof to Jehoram. Verses 12-15 record this message from "the Lord God of your father, David." On the one hand, Jehoram. had the example of Asa, his grandfather and that of Jehoshaphat his father, who sought the honour of the Lord (v.12). But on the other hand, the kings of Israel had left an example of ungodly rebellion against the truth, and it was these whom Jehoram followed. He was guilty of making Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot, just as Ahab did in Israel. Also, Elijah wrote that Jehoram had killed his brothers who were better than himself (v.13).

Therefore, he added that God would judge Jehoram severely for this, bringing a serious affliction on his people, his children, his wives and all his possessions, but that he would also personally suffer the infliction of a dreadful disease of his intestines, so severe that his intestines would come out, "day by day" (v.15). This would mean protracted suffering. This solemn message, written before Jehoram was born, ought to have had specially profound effect upon the wicked king, for it came to him in a most unusual way which was clear evidence that it was a message from the all knowing God of creation.

The message of God by the writing of Elijah apparently did not at all turn Jehoram. to the Lord, as it ought to have, and the Lord stirred up his enemies against him. If one's ways please the Lord, He would make his enemies to be at peace with him, but it was just the reverse with Jehoram. The Philistines and Arabians invaded Judah, and Judah had not enough defence to keep them from plundering the king's house. They carried away his possessions, his sons and his wives, though leaving his youngest son, Jehoahaz (v.17).

Did Jehoram not reflect on the great contrast between his reign and the peaceful reign of his father? Since there is no record of his turning from his evil way, surely he could have nothing but utter remorse as his reign drew to a close. The Lord then struck him with an incurable disease of the intestines, which afflicted him for two years before his intestines came out and he died in severe pain. Thus God allowed him an extra two years for repentance, but he had evidently sold himself to do evil, as Ahab had done (1 Kings 21:25), so that to the end be resisted the goodness of God that might have led him to repentance.

The people made no burning for him as they had for his fathers, for they were not sorry for his death. He reigned from the age of 32 until he was 40, a brief eight years, and died with no one to mourn for him. Though he was buried in Jerusalem, his grave was not with the kings. How sad an end for the son of the faithful King Jehoshaphat!

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 21:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/2-chronicles-21.html. 1897-1910.

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