Samuel tried to tell them. Israel wouldn’t listen
The Lord tried to tell them, but they wouldn’t listen to him either.
God’s people demanded a king other than God. They wanted to be like everybody else. It was a disaster waiting to explode upon the chosen people. They got their way and their just desserts (1 Samuel 8 for the story in detail).
From the very first king, Solomon, to the final king, Herod Agrippa II, trouble followed Jewish royalty. The excellent, godly kings proved to be the exception and not the rule. Time and again, the Bible speaks of kings who “caused Israel to sin.” These kings sought fame and notoriety but typically found only dishonor.
Jehoram was the firstborn and royal successor to his father, Jehoshaphat (see 2 Chronicles 21 for this story). Jehoram was one of six sons of the king. As soon as he took office, he struck his siblings and killed them. The Bible says, “And he 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.” God left in power only long enough for Jehoram’s son to grow up and assume the crown.
Jehoram brought more idolatry into Judah, and “he made high places in the hill country of Judah and led the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom and made Judah go astray.” The great prophet, Elijah, wrote him and accused him of leading Jerusalem in whoredom. Because of his terrible sins, he would die an ignominious death. The prophet told him that he would suffer a “severe sickness with a disease of your bowels until your bowels come out because of the disease, day by day.”
After two years, and after wars and conflicts, Jehoram would die. His bowels sloughed out, and he died in excruciating pain, exactly the way Elijah had prophesied.
After his death, there was no great period of mourning. There were no posthumous honors as other kings received. There was no lamentation made for him. The people did not even bury him among the previous kings. The Bible says of Jehoram’s death:
“And he departed with no one’s regret.”2 Chronicles 21:20
How wretched must a man’s life be to live and die with no one to mourn him?
We are building our legacy now. Every moment we craft a life that will be remembered or forgotten, one that is rich with goodness and righteousness or lacking in depth. Our lives may even be filled with wickedness. How will we be remembered?
2 Chronicles 35:24 reports the death of Josiah, a fine king who walked in the paths of righteousness. ‘All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” They mourned because a great king had died. Josiah built his legacy through years of seeking God.
The challenge we face is to answer the question: “how will I be remembered?” Once we walk the path from which we will never return, will there be regrets that we have passed? Will others mourn our passing and miss our encouragement? Or, like Jehoram will people have no regrets? Most of all, what will the Lord think of our time in his vineyard?