Perhaps you remember Jehoram, a somewhat obscure king of Judah. The rather brief account of his life and reign recorded in II Chronicles provides a wealth of instruction for believers. Among those instructions, note the following.
A godly heritage does not guarantee godly progeny. DNA does not determine destiny, nor does environment. If that were true, Jehoram would have been a good king. He was born with every advantage. First, he was born into the Davidic line of kings and, as the firstborn, he was the only person in Judah who qualified to be king. Second, he was the son of Jehoshaphat, a godly king, who provided a good example for his firstborn and established a clear pattern that if followed would lead to Jehoram’s blessing. God’s testimony of Jehoshaphat was that “he followed the example of his father David’s earlier days and did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, followed His commandments, and did not act as Israel did. . . . He took great pride in the ways of the Lord” (II Chron. 17:3b-4, 6a). And although not perfect, Jehoshaphat earned this inspired eulogy: he “did not depart from . . . doing right in the sight of the Lord” (20:32:b).
But Jehoram despised his heritage and the blessings bestowed on him by God through his righteous father. Having been given the kingdom upon his father’s death, he ruthlessly killed all six of his brothers to make certain that he had no rivals to the throne. And to be doubly sure of his position, he killed “some of the rulers of Israel also” (21:4). He proceeded to marry the daughter of Ahab, the wickedest king in Israel (one similar error, by the way, that he had observed in his father). Then Jehoram proceeded to “walk in the way” of Ahab and the other wicked kings of Israel. Without giving any further details, the chronicler writes Jehoram’s epitaph: “he did evil in the sight of the Lord” (21:6b).
God is faithful to His Word. Given the portrait of Jehoram just painted, we might expect something other than the chronicler’s next words. “Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David because of the covenant which He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp to him and his sons forever” (v. 7). The covenant God had made with David included this promise: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (II Sam. 7:16). God had made His covenant with David all the while knowing what lay in the future. The apostasy and idolatry of Jehoram did not take God by surprise and could not abrogate the unilateral covenant of God. He never promises what He could not or would not fulfill. All that He has ever said He will do, He will accomplish without fail. As the apostle Paul assures us, “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (II Cor. 1:20). Our salvation, our security, and every blessing we expect is absolutely secured on the unbreakable word of our God.
God is precise in His Word. Jehoram’s sin could not provoke God to recant and go back on His covenant: therefore, the Davidic line did not lose the throne. But God is careful to dampen any presumption that would encourage sin. Faithful to His Word, He did not wrest the throne from David’s progeny. But His covenant had not promised that He would ignore sin. He judged Jehoram severely. First, He touched his kingdom: Edom, then Libnah revolted against Judah. Then He touched Jehoram’s family: the Philistines and Arabs attacked Judah, carrying off all Jehoram’s possessions “together with his sons and his wives” (21:17). Finally, He touched Jehoram: “the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable sickness. . . . His bowels came out because of his sickness and he died in great pain” (21:18, 19b). God’s Word is trustworthy. We can surely rest in it—being careful to understand precisely what God is saying. God never misspeaks.
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