Jehoram, who served as the fifth king of Judah, was the oldest son of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 21:3). He reigned alone for eight years, though he apparently first co-reigned with his daddy (2 Chronicles 21:8; 2 Kings 8:16; 1:17). Jehoram’s wife was Athaliah, who was the daughter of the ungodly duo Ahab and Jezebel (2 Chronicles 21:6).
First, some historical information about Jehoram. Once he strengthened himself as king, in a manner that totally was unprovoked, he killed all of his brothers (2 Chronicles 21:1-4). Despite the evil in Jehoram’s life, the Lord did not destroy the house of David completely due to His covenant with David (2 Chronicles 21:7). Judah ultimately would be brought down, but it would by God’s wisdom; in Jehoram’s day, the time had not yet come for that to take place.
The dominant, sad message of Jehoram’s life is that he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab did (2 Kings 8:18; 2 Chronicles 21:6). How could a king of the Southern Kingdom be influenced to follow in the ways of the corrupt kings of the Northern Kingdom? Here is the Bible’s explanation: “for the daughter of Ahab was his wife” (2 Kings 8:18).
During Jehoram’s reign, Edom successfully revolted against Judah (2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Chronicles 21:8-10). This was in fulfillment of what Isaac foretold many centuries before (Genesis 27:39,40).
Unfortunately, Jehoram did not follow in the paths of his father, Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat had put forth great efforts to bring God’s people back to the Lord (2 Chronicles 19:4). Jehoram, on the other hand, “led Judah astray” by idolatry (2 Chronicles 21:11). What a difference in direction that was!
Elijah predicted the fashion in which Jehoram and his family would be afflicted due to his ungodliness and evil influence on Judah (2 Chronicles 21:12-15). The king was struck sick and died in the gruesome manner which Elijah foretold (21:18,19). When Jehoram died, he was not missed by the nation of Judah (2 Chronicles 21:19,20). What a sad commentary on his life and reign over God’s people. That history was written for our learning (Romans 15:4), so let us look at some spiritual principles.
In one instance, Jehoram’s reign suffered. Why? The Bible directly says he “had forsaken the Lord God” (2 Chronicles 21:10). Such happens, but there are no justifiable reasons for any human being doing that, ever. There may be a number of factors which influence a person to leave the Lord, and he might give a number of excuses and point fingers at others, but the bottom line is this: a person departs from
God because his heart is not truly devoted to Him. Jehoram’s slaughter of his brothers was unjustified. For their own selfish interests, some people are willing to take every sort of unlawful action which they feel will help them accomplish their goals. That is what Jehoram did (2 Chronicles 21:2,3). Jehoram’s marriage played a role in his own corruption and the corruption of the nation of Judah (2 Chronicles 21:6). Why did he act like Ahab’s family? Because he married one of them, Ahab’s daughter! Look at this: he married Athaliah and at some later point he forsook Jehovah (2 Chronicles 21:10). Does anyone see a connection between those two facts?! Here is the general rule, which we believe to be universal: after one gets married, a person’s spouse influences him/her more than any other person in the world. Should this truth not cause a child of God to choose a spouse deliberately and with great care, having his/her own best spiritual interest in mind, as well as the spiritual interest of their offspring?
A question to ask self concerning a potential spouse: Will this person help me get to heaven? It has been stated wisely that we should search for a mate who loves the Lord more than they love us! It is no surprise that Jehoram’s marriage to Athaliah resulted in the corruption of their son, too, as the king’s bride was the boy’s adviser to do evil (2 Chronicles 22:2,3).
Jehoram’s life reminds us that having a righteous father does not guarantee that a child will be righteous, nor can a son inherit his father’s healthy relationship with Jehovah (Ezekiel 18:5- 13,20). Jehoshaphat, the father of Jehoram, walked in the good ways of David, but Jehoram, Jehoshaphat’s son, failed to walk in the ways of his father (2 Chronicles 21:12,13). Each of us is accountable to the Lord as an individual.
Jehoram himself was ungodly in his conduct. More than that, under his rule, the people of Judah committed widespread harlotry. Even more tragic is the truth that the king himself actually led them astray, as it is written,“…he… caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit harlotry, and led Judah astray” (2 Chronicles 21:11). It is a serious offense to be a stumbling block to others (Luke 17:1,2) or to lead them away from the path of righteousness.
Like all the rest of us, Jehoram had great potential. He had many opportunities to use his blessings and position to serve the Lord and help his people do the same. For the most part, in this area he failed miserably. And, he had no one to blame but himself. Are we listening?
— Roger D. Campbell