Moreover the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabians who were near the Ethiopians. And they came up into Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions that were found in the king’s house, and also his sons and his wives, so that there was not a son left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons. After all this the Lord struck him in his intestines with an incurable disease. Then it happened in the course of time, after the end of two years, that his intestines came out because of his sickness; so he died in severe pain. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning for his fathers. He was thirty-two years old when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem eight years and, to no one’s sorrow, departed. However they buried him in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. (2 Chronicles 21:16-20)
The Saddest Story
Death brings sorrow for the passing of our loved ones. We grieve the times lost to talk with them, laugh about life, go places together and enjoy their company. When people of nobility die, we have a sense of mourning for them as well. Death brings about a loss and a spirit of sadness. There is one story in the Bible where none of this is true. The king of Judah was a man named Jehoram. He was the son of Jehoshaphat and immediately after he became king slaughtered all his brothers and the princes that opposed him. At the age of 32, Jehoram lead the nation in all of the wickedness of Ahab, his father-in-law. The land was filled with the whoredom of idolatry as the people forsook the Lord God. His reign would last only eight years. The prophet Elijah sent a letter to the king warning him of the terrible things that would come against the land. He also prophesied a miserable end for Jehoram.
The word of the Lord came true as Jehoram was inflicted with an incurable disease in his intestines suffering for two years before he died a violent death. When he died, the people were so wicked and so indifferent the text says that when the king died nobody cared or gave notice. He lived forty years and his death was not even mentioned in the obituary of the kings. A wasted life. His people had no sympathy for him. There was no love loss for the death of a fellow human being who had served the nation as king.
Jehoram is a sad story because he spent his whole life gaining the pleasures and nobility of life and died in obscurity. No one cared that he died. There were no tears of sorrow at the death of a king much less for a human being. The wicked world he helped propagate – like him – cared only for themselves. Their wickedness took no notice of his misery for two years much less his death. His life was so wicked death had no meaning. He is barely remembered in the annals of the Bible. A nothing man. Oblivion.
We all will have an epitaph of our life. It is not that we live to be remembered in prominence among men but the praise of the Lord. Many saints die unnoticed from the hurried affairs of men but someone knows and someone cares. It only matters if our names are found in the book of life but we desire for some sorrow at our passing from others. Jehoram had none. He lived his life his way and died his way. His place in eternity is sealed among the damned because he rejected the love of God. What men will place on your death marker will say a lot about the life you have lived. Do not let your life end with the sadness of being lost. Live so that in death there will be sorrow from family and friends but joy in the praise of angels welcoming you to the bosom of Abraham. Now that is a great story.
Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry. (Mark Twain; 1835-1910; Notebook, publ. 1935)