His name meant, “God is exalted”, but he failed to live up to that great calling. His Grandfather and Father – though not without their faults – were considered by God to be faithful and righteous. They had been blessed. Yet, despite the destiny implied by his name, Jehoram, King of Judah, went down in history as one of the worst Kings to ever live.
Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. No one was sorry when he died. They buried him in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery. (2 Chronicles 21:20 NLT)
Can you imagine? This man was a King, yet no one missed him when he was gone. They wouldn’t even bury him in the royal graveyard.
Jehoram ascended to the throne when his father Jehoshaphat died. Jehoshaphat had faced overwhelming forces but cried out to God for help (2 Chronicles 20). In a stunning and unforgettable miracle, the enemy forces killed each other and Judah simply walked into the valley and took possession of gold, weapons, clothing and more. Unfortunately, this godly legacy did not continue in the life of the son.
Although we do not know all of Jehoram’s motivations, we do know that his wife Athaliah was at least part of the problem. As daughter of the wicked Ahab and possibly Jezebel (yes that Jezebel) of Israel, she was a major player in turning the hearts of Judah away from God and toward Baal. By the way, her name also means, “God is exalted.”
Even though Jehoram had been named King by his father, The 32 year old was not about to take any chances. He had all of his brother’s killed to squelch even the slightest opposition to his leadership. When people began to rebel, he met the resistance with an iron fist, and attempted to force everyone to submit. God had finally had enough, when Jehoram used his position to build pagan shrines and encouraged false worship. God then assigned the Prophet Elijah the task of speaking a divine curse over Jehoram and his family.
God used the Philistines and some Arabs to attack Judah. These attacks were devastating as they destroyed defenses and carried off treasure including, “…everything of value in the palace, including the kings sons and his wives.” (2 Chron 21:17) Finally Jehoram spent two long years in agony from a God imposed intestinal disorder as Elijah had prophesied. I believe that God allowed the king to suffer so long because, in His mercy, He was giving Jehoram an opportunity to repent from his disobedience. Instead, Jehoram persisted in his sin and died after two years of agony when his intestines exploded from his body.
As a descendent of David and other great leaders, Jehoram had a lot going for him. With simple obedience and just a little bit of effort, God would have granted Jehoram great success. Instead he decided to follow the bad behavior of his wife’s side of the family, and follow the lead of the rest of the world who served multiple gods instead of the one true God. The result? God’s judgment and a funeral NOT fit for kings.
Father, teach us to follow You completely. Help us to please You in our personal actions and in those we advocate for others. Allow our lives to be missed when we leave. In Jesus Name, Amen!