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Bible Commentaries

Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

2 Chronicles 21

Verse 20


‘He departed without being desired.’

2 Chronicles 21:20

It is related of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat—a worthy father’s foolish son—that after a reign of eight years ‘he departed without being desired.’

1. Desired this use of the word is extremely rare. Desire properly denotes a forward-looking emotion—an emotion directed to the attainment of an object from which pleasure is expected: it is here employed to denote a backward-looking emotion—the regretful emotion with which we contemplate a lost joy. In this sense the word is found nowhere else in the Bible. Indeed, it would seem that in this instance the translators indulged in the poet’s license of employing an old word in a new sense, putting it to a service for which no precedent could have been adduced. Alone of all the translators, ancient or modern, whom we have been able to compare, they have succeeded in giving an exact representation of the Hebrew original. And this they have done with such an exquisite sense of fitness that the word in the new signification has taken its place, if not in the English of everyday life, at least in the language as written by its graver masters.

II. Let us note that this text in the Chronicles has a lesson for all.—It is a legitimate object of ambition to the godly man, to be so useful and honourable in his life, that when he departs the whole circle of his neighbours, and acquaintances, and kindred shall mourn for him with affectionate regrets—to be so zealous in good works while he lives that he shall be desired when he dies. Put the right monarch on the throne of your being; not self, but your spirit, indwelt and energised by the Spirit of Christ.


‘Wickedness always means disintegration. Under Jehoram, Jehoshaphat’s son, the kingdom threatened to break up. Edom revolted, a plague was on the people, the Philistines and Arabians made incursions into the country, and finally a terrible disease brought the king’s life to a close. So when the flesh rules us, when we answer the electric bells that ring up in our soul from below, when we pander to the promptings of the body, acting as though our essential nature were only physical—disintegration at once begins to work through all our being, our life is invaded with anxieties and annoyances, our sleep is broken, our peace has fled.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 21". Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.