We have here a brief account of the life and reign of Jehoram (or Joram), one of the worst of the kings of Judah, but the son and successor of Jehoshaphat, one of the best. Note, 1. Parents cannot give grace to their children. Many that have themselves been godly have had the grief and shame of seeing those that came forth out of their bowels wicked and vile. Let not the families that are thus afflicted think it strange. 2. If the children of good parents prove wicked, commonly they are worse than others. The unclean spirit brings in seven others more wicked than himself, Luke 11:26. 3. A nation is sometimes justly punished with the miseries of a bad reign for not improving the blessings and advantages of a good one.
Concerning this Jehoram observe,
I. The general idea here given of his wickedness (2 Kgs. 8:18): He did as the house of Ahab, and worse he could not do. His character is taken from the bad example he followed, for men are according to the company they converse with and the copies they write after. No mistake is more fatal to young people than a mistake in the choice of those whom they would recommend themselves to and take their measures from, and whose good opinion they value themselves by. Jehoram chose the house of Ahab for his pattern rather than his father’s house, and this choice was his ruin. We have a particular account of his wickedness (2 Chron. 21:1-30), murder, idolatry, persecution, everything that was bad.
II. The occasions of his wickedness. His father was a very good man, and no doubt took care to have him taught the good knowledge of the Lord, but, 1. It is certain he did ill to marry him to the daughter of Ahab; no good could come of an alliance with an idolatrous family, but all mischief with such a daughter of such a mother as Athaliah the daughter of Jezebel. The degeneracy of the old world took rise from the unequal yoking of professors with profane. Those that are ill-matched are already half-ruined. 2. I doubt he did not do well to make him king in his own life-time. It is said here (2 Kgs. 8:16) that he began to reign, Jehoshaphat being then king; hereby he gratified his pride (than which nothing is more pernicious to young people), indulged him in his ambition, in hopes to reform him by humouring him, and so brought a curse upon his family, as Eli did, whose sons made themselves vile and he restrained them not. Jehoshaphat had made this wicked son of his viceroy once when he went with Ahab to Ramoth-Gilead, from which Jehoshaphat’s seventeenth year (1 Kgs. 22:51) is made Jehoram’s second (2 Kgs. 1:17), but afterwards, in his twenty-second year, he made him partner in his government, and thence Joram’s eight years are to be dated, three years before his father’s death. It has been hurtful to many young men to come too soon to their estates. Samuel got nothing by making his sons judges.
III. The rebukes of Providence which he was under for his wickedness. 1. The Edomites revolted, who had been under the government of the kings of Judah ever since David’s time, about 150 years, 2 Kgs. 8:20. He attempted to reduce them, and gave them a defeat (2 Kgs. 8:21), but he could not improve the advantage he had got, so as to recover his dominion over them: Yet Edom revolted (2 Kgs. 8:22), and the Edomites were, after this, bitter enemies to the Jews, as appears by the prophecy of Obad. 1:1-21 and Ps. 137:7. Now Isaac’s prophecy was fulfilled, that this Esau the elder should serve Jacob the younger; yet, in process of time, he should break that yoke from off his neck, Gen. 27:40. 2. Libnah revolted. This was a city in Judah, in the heart of his country, a priests’ city; the inhabitants of this city shook off his government because he had forsaken God, and would have compelled them to do so too, 2 Chron. 21:10, 11. In order that they might preserve their religion they set up for a free state. Perhaps other cities did the same. 3. His reign was short. God cut him off in the midst of his days, when he was but forty years old, and had reigned but eight years. Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days.
IV. The gracious care of Providence for 198a the keeping up of the kingdom of Judah, and the house of David, notwithstanding the apostasies and calamities of Jehoram’s reign (2 Kgs. 8:19): Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah. He could easily have done it; he might justly have done it; it would have been no loss to him to have done it; yet he would not do it, for David’s sake, not for the sake of any merit of his which could challenge this favour to his family as a debt, but for the sake of a promise made to him that he should always have a lamp (that is, a succession of kings from one generation to another, by which his name should be kept bright and illustrious, as a lamp is kept burning by a constant fresh supply of oil), that his family should never be extinct till it terminated in the Messiah, that Son of David on whom was to be hung all the glory of his Father’s house and in whose everlasting kingdom that promise to David is fulfilled (Ps. 132:17), I have ordained a lamp for my anointed.
V. The conclusion of this impious and inglorious reign, 2 Kgs. 8:23, 24. Nothing peculiar is here said of him; but we are told (2 Chron. 21:19, 20) that he died of sore diseases and died without being desired.