“[Jehoram of Judah] walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” (v. 6).
Despite the division of the old covenant people into two nations—the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah—after Solomon died (1 Kings 12), there remained close ties between the two kingdoms. After all, they were all one people who descended from Abraham through their forefather Jacob. However, while godly unity between the tribes was the ideal, the close ties between Israel and Judah were not always a positive.
We see this in the case of King Jehoram of Judah, who succeeded his father, Jehoshaphat, in the southern kingdom (2 Chron. 21:1). This man was not the same individual as King Jehoram of Israel (note that sometimes the shortened name Joram is used for Jehoram), who reigned over the northern kingdom when Jehoram of Judah ascended the throne. Jehoram of Judah enjoyed a period of co-regency in Judah alongside his father, but after Jehoshaphat died, Jehoram’s wickedness manifested itself when he killed his brothers, probably to eliminate any potential threat to his reign (2 Kings 8:16–17; 2 Chron. 21:1–5). But the influence of the wicked northern kingdom was perhaps even more evident in his support of idolatry (2 Chron. 21:11–13). Jehoram walked in the ways of King Ahab, and that was because of the marriage alliance Israel made with Judah during Jehoshaphat’s reign (18:1). Jehoram of Judah’s wife was Athaliah, the daughter of the idolatrous King Ahab (21:6; 22:1–12). She influenced Jehoram to worship false gods in Judah.
Jehoram unsuccessfully faced the revolt of the kingdom of Edom, which had frequently caused Judah trouble, at times coming under Judah’s control (2 Sam. 8:14; 1 Kings 11:14–22; 22:47). He also suffered the loss of his possessions and most of his sons when the Philistines and Arabians made war against Judah (2 Chron. 21:16–17). Today’s passage makes it clear that these troubles were punishments for Jehoram of Judah’s wickedness, but Jehoram’s suffering was not limited to that inflicted by foreign powers. He died from a painful disease of the bowels and was apparently not beloved by his own subjects (vv. 11–15, 18–19). He died “with no one’s regret” (v. 20).
Jehoram of Judah was awful, but the Lord preserved David’s line because of His commitment to the Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7:1–17; 2 Chron. 21:7). Still, this did not mean Judah would escape the covenant curses for breaking God’s law. The military defeats and disease in Jehoram’s day proved as much (see Deut. 28:20–22, 25).
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
As believers, we must be cautious about the influence of unbelievers in our lives. Non-Christians who have undue influence on us because of the kinds of relationships we have with them can lead us away from the Lord. This happened with Jehoram of Judah, and it can happen with us as well. Let us be careful not to be yoked together with unbelievers in unwise ways even as we seek to share the gospel with them.