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CRITICAL NOTES.] This chapter corresponds with 2 Kings 8:16-24; contains Jehoshaphat’s family arrangements (2 Chronicles 21:1-4); beginning and character of Jehoram’s reign (2 Chronicles 21:5-11); the writing of Elijah to Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:12-15); the end of Jehoram’s reign (2 Chronicles 21:16-20).
2 Chronicles 21:1-4.—Family arrangements of J. Six sons, towards whom he pursued the same policy as Rehoboam (ch. 2 Chronicles 11:23). This probably provoked the jealousy of Jehoram and induced him to put them to death. J. firstborn (2 Chronicles 21:3), whose natural right to succeed was carried out (Deuteronomy 21:15). Divers, Jehoram’s brothers, supported by some chief men in country; or suspected of disloyalty.
2 Chronicles 21:5-11.—Character of J.’s reign. 2 Chronicles 21:5. Eight years. According to 2 Kings 8:16, began in fifth year of Joram, K. of Isa., therefore in twenty-second year of Jehoshaphat. Four of his eight years coincided nearly with the last four years of his father’s reign, and after his father’s death he reigned four years [cf. Murphy]. 2 Chronicles 21:6. Daughter, i.e., the grand-daughter of Omri (2 Kings 8:26). 2 Chronicles 21:7. The promise to David and an explanation of God’s patience to Jehoram. 2 Chronicles 21:8. Edom. Flourishing kingdom of Jehoshaphat dwindling away. Edomites governed since time of David (1 Kings 22:47; 2 Kings 3:9) revolted. Defeated in first, they made another attempt, succeeded, and Libnah, on south frontier towards Edom, followed example. 2 Chronicles 21:11. Fornication, signifying unfaithfulness in following other gods (cf. 2 Kings 9:22).
2 Chronicles 21:12-15.—Elijah’s writing to J. The document in question is not called a letter (iggereth or sepher), but a writing (micetab), Words. The only notice of E. in Chronicles. As prophet of northern kingdom, natural that he should engage but slightly the historian of southern one. Notice one of considerable interest. Shows that E. did not confine attention to affairs of his own state, but looked beyond its borders, to check progress of idolatry in Judah. It proves that the prophet was upon earth after the death of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 21:13), whence it follows
(1) that the account of his translation occurs in Kings out of its chronological order, and that
(2) Elisha, who prophesied in the time of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 3:11-19), commenced his public ministry before his master’s translation [Speak. Com.]. Some think this was not E. the Tishbite, but one distinct from him; others that this should be Elisha. 2 Chronicles 21:13. Way, extreme measures which dishonoured God; better, not idolators, as thou art. 2 Chronicles 21:14. Plague, stroke, invasion of Philistines (2 Chronicles 21:16-17). 2 Chronicles 21:15. Disease, a chronic and incurable dysentery. 2 Chronicles 21:17. Brake, i.e., “wasted it” (Vulg., vastaverunt), applied to cities (cf. ch. 2 Chronicles 22:1; Jeremiah 29:2; Ezekiel 30:16).
2 Chronicles 21:18-20.—End of Jehoram’s reign. Out off by his malady in two years. No burning, not honoured by his subjects; desired, unregretted. Custom of giving or withholding funeral honours introduced from Egypt into Judæa.
THE SUCCESSION OF JEHORAM.—2 Chronicles 21:1-20
I. The cruelty by which he entered upon his reign. “Slew all his brethren”. In covetousness for their positions, or jealous at their authority. Pretending he was not secure, or under false accusation. Grievous sin to cut off kindred because better than ourselves (2 Chronicles 21:13). Fratricide common. Kings filled with “maliciousness, envy, murder” (Romans 1:29).
“Base envy withers at another’s joy,
And hates the excellence it cannot reach” [Thomson].
II. The wickedness which dishonoured his reign. He began wrong and went on to worse.
1. He walked in idolatrous ways. “Like as did the house of Ahab” (2 Chronicles 21:6). The husband of a wicked woman, he became corrupt, idolatrous, and vile.
2. He drew his people into the same snare. He encouraged whoredom in high places. By counsel and example, by force and penalties, “compelled Judah thereto” (2 Chronicles 21:11). In a land where the true God resided, the sad spectacle beheld of king and people forsaking his service and giving themselves to excesses and abominations of heathen gods!
III. The calamities to which wickedness exposed his reign. God forsaken, subjects withdrew allegiance, no defence.
1. Tributary provinces rebelled. Edom revolted and made themselves a king (2 Chronicles 21:8). Lebnah, a city in his own kingdom, threw off his yoke (2 Chronicles 21:10). Arabians encouraged to rebellion (2 Chronicles 21:16). Thus,
2. The kingdom almost politically extinguished. By destruction of his army, capture of Jerusalem, and plunder of royal palace; by devastation of the country and deportation of royal family (2 Chronicles 21:17). Wicked men insecure in business, position, and prospects. “A man shall not be established by wickedness.”
IV. The sad events which terminated his reign through wickedness. Sins great and retribution grievous, “a great stroke” (2 Chronicles 21:14).
1. Loathsome disease in his person.
2. Unregretted in his life.
3. Dishonoured in death. At the early age of 40 smitten with disease, a nuisance to himself and others. The palace turned into a hospital and a tomb. Not loved in life, not lamented in death. Denied a royal, sepulchre, and only out of respect allowed interment in the city of David! Sad picture, awful moral!
JEHOSHAPHAT’S FAMILY ARRANGEMENTS.—2 Chronicles 21:1-4
I. Prudent in plan. The eldest son appointed to succeed, the others governors of cities and enriched with “gifts of silver and of gold”. This very arrangement might provoke jealousy. Look further than time and higher than worldly prudence.
II. Difficult in execution. Jehoram not established without struggle; slew his brothers, with princes attached to their interest or ready to avenge their deaths. Thus he disappointed the good intentions of his father, and, like many, founded his kingdom in blood (Habakkuk 2:12).
III. Frustrated in purpose. We arrange, others upset. “Things excellently designed,” says Cicero, “have often a very ill event”. Often special trial to leave the fruits of labour, the treasures of home and empire, “unto the man that shall be after us”. Will they be devoted to perpetuate a godly name or desecrated to the world? “And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool?” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19; cf. Psalms 49:10; Psalms 39:6).
THE LAMP OF DAVID’S HOUSE.—2 Chronicles 21:7
Apostasy would have led to entire extinction of royal family, but for the divine promise to David “to give alway a light (candle or lamp) to his children “(2 Kings 8:24).
I. How the lamp was kindled. A divine “gift”. All rights from God. None can create a family, build a kingdom without him. “I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed”.
II. How the lamp was preserved from extinction. The same power that lit, kept the light burning. Wickedness of the king, abominations of the people and surrounding darkness of idolatry almost destroyed it. God remembered and fulfilled his promise. “For thou wilt light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness” (Psalms 18:29).
III. How the lamp will permanently shine. The dynasty of David the source of light to all generations—raised from degradation and persecution to honour and prosperity. The past a pledge for future. In Christ the light shall shine for ever, can never be darkened nor extinguished. “Unto his (Solomon’s) son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light (lamp) alway before me in Jerusalem?” (1 Kings 11:36).
JEHORAM A WARNING HISTORY
I. In marriage neutralising effect of religious education. Good influences and pious training of early days neutralised. Association with wicked made him an idolator, worldling, and profligate. A wedding-day may be a wrong start and turn the joy of life into mourning.
II. In Conduct entailing sufferings upon himself and descendants. His example pernicious, transmitted poison to successive generations, brought terrible retribution upon himself and his kingdom. Achan “perished not alone in his iniquity”.
III. In life a fearful warning to all. To parents not to marry their children for policy or profit; to guard their associations, friendships, and alliances; above all, to set a good example, lest folly in them becomes sin in their offspring. To young people to shun evil companions and never forget the claims of truth and God. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 21:6-11. The unfaithful king. Calamities which befel Jehoram appended “because he had forsaken the Lord God of his father”.
1. Seduced by his wife. Athaliah, daughter of Ahab, a worshipper of Baal. “There needs no more than a bad wife to undo a family” (Bp. Patrick).
2. Encouraged idolatrous practice. Established altars in high places; set up groves, images, and pillars, and filled the country with heathen abominations.
3. Forced the people to follow his example. “Compelled Judah” (2 Chronicles 21:11). “This was the worse, because in Jerusalem, the holy city; and because he caused them to do it, partly by his allurements and partly by affrightments, as did Julian also the apostate, qui persudendo persectus est” [Trapp].
2 Chronicles 21:12-15. Elijah’s writing. When written? how sent? for what purpose? Learn the word of God sent to correct, if despised may become our worst enemy. This letter foretold the doom of the king, but unheeded and sad prediction fulfilled. “Why is he not then better believed? If some astrologer had once or twice prognosticated, and it proved true, he should be much carried up and credited. And shall not God’s prophets be so?’ Believe the prophets and ye shall prosper.’ But many believe them no otherwise than they do the predictions of an almanack, if so much” [Trapp].
2 Chronicles 21:19-20. No burning. Dishonoured by his subjects. On account of
(1) sins he committed,
(2) calamities of his reign,
(3) humiliating nature of his death. J. died in bloom of manhood, but lived long enough to teach that “he that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 21". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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