1 Kings 13:20

No man of God will deliberately sin against God (John 8:44; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:18). But the good are liable to be surprised or deceived into transgression (James 1:18-15; 1 John 2:1, 2). We must be ever on our guard against the "wiles" and "depths" of Satan. For lack of vigilance this man of God fell into the snare, and we see here how he was reproved.


1. This is evident upon the face of the narrative.

(1) He came out of Judah "by the word of Jehovah." Cried against the altar at Bethel "in the word of Jehovah." Gave the sign upon the altar "by the word of Jehovah" (vers. 1, 2, 5).

(2) He professed that his instructions not to eat in Mount Ephraim, but to return to Judah by another road, were by the same word. Professed to the king (ver. 9); to the old prophet (ver. 17).

2. But could not God revoke or modify His word?

(1) Certainly. He did so to Abraham (see Genesis 22:11, 12). What had been might be.

(2) Upon the recognition of this principle the old prophet proceeded, and so far was the man of God from disputing it that he was taken in the snare (vers. 18, 19).

3. Wherein, then, was his fault? The revocation here came not with the evidence of the command. The command was immediately from "the mouth of the Lord" (per. 21). The revocation came immediately from the mouth of the old prophet. Note: We are responsible for the proper use of reason in religion.

(2) Faith in the word of the Lord must be implicit. The Bible is that word. The evidence that it is such is conclusive - external, internal, collateral.

(3) Other voices must not be allowed to replace this. The voice of "nature," of "reason," of the "Church." We listen implicitly to these at our peril.


1. This came to the man of God himself.

(1) The reading of the text would lead us to conclude that it came to the old prophet. The words אשר השיבו here rendered, "who brought him back," are in verse 23 construed, "whom he had brought back," and might be so construed here. Josephus asserts that the word of the Lord here came to the man of God; and so does the Arabic. In the 26th verse we are assured by the old prophet that this word of the Lord came to the man of God.

(2) According to this view it was "Jehovah" who "cried unto the man of God," viz., from heaven as He called to Abraham (Genesis 22:11). So, coming to himself, as the command did in the first instance, he had not to weigh contradictory testimonies from the old prophet, but was left without a doubt. God brings home sin with demonstration.

2. It came to him in the ripeness of his transgression.

(1) "As they sat at table." Conscience reproves the sinner in the very act of sin. This is the voice of God in the soul. But here was an external voice to which the internal voice responded. Conscience responds to the word or law of God.

(2) It came to all who were at the table. To the old prophet as well as to the man of God. His conscience, too, would respond to the voice of God. To the sons of the old prophet, if present, there would also be a voice. What will our emotions be when in the day of judgment all the mischief to which we have been accessories will be discovered?

3. It was terribly severe.

(1) He is doomed to dis. "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." We all die in consequence of sin entailed. But here is an actual "sin unto death" (1 John 5:16).

(2) He is doomed to die abroad. The mention of his carcase not coming to the sepulchre of his fathers implied a violent death away from home. Possibly the manner of his death may have been made known to him (compare ver. 26; 1 Kings 20:36). The word of God is not violated with impunity. What will be the case of those who seldom take pains to consult it? - J.A.M.

And it came to pass as they sat at the table.
1. If the word of God has spoken, the vision or the interpretation which essentially contradicts it cannot be followed without destruction. Nothing short of a real, well-attested revelation could have furnished a better excuse for departing from the word of the Lord; and yet for departing he was slain. Here a lesson Is written as it were on the arch of heaven, and hung out for a warning to all generations, not to depart, on any pretence, from the plain word of God. Whatever He has said we must believe and obey, and an angel from heaven must not be allowed to contradict it. We may compare Scripture with Scripture to ascertain what He has actually spoken; but that being determined, we must suffer neither our own reasoning, nor the authority or reasoning or ridicule or glosses of others to weaken our confidence in any revealed truth. Men act over again the part so strongly condemned in the history before us. They leave the plain revelation of God for another guide more congenial with their feelings. At the suggestion of others who set up pretensions to superior knowledge, or at the sole instance of their own depraved hearts, they depart from truth and duty in defiance of the plain prescriptions of God's word. Let them beware. These paths lead "down to death," and these "steps take hold on hell." The Almighty God will rend them like a lion, and there shall be none to deliver. All this becomes more credible when we see, as we do in the account before us:

2. That it is some selfish and sinful bias which leads men to forsake the wool of God for fables. In the present ease it is most plain by what influence and by what process of mind the man of God came to believe the fatal lie. It was under the spur of an appetite awakened by long abstinence. Pressed with hunger and fainting with thirst, in a sultry climate in the heat of the day, no sooner was the sound in his ear that God had released him from the burdensome restraint, than he rushed to the conclusion that so it was. He opened his ear to hear the refreshing tidings, as he would his parched lips to receive the cooling draught. Any one can almost see the operations of his mind, who has ever studied his own. That selfish desire of personal gratification, — that impatience under the restriction of a burdensome command, — predisposed him to fall in with the suggestion, and to believe (for he doubtless did believe) that God had released him from the prohibition. How easily do men believe what they wish should be true. No man ever went over from the revelation of God to believe a lie, without being led by a selfish and sinful bias.

3. We perceive in this history how men, and even prophets, will lie to draw others from the pathway of the Lord. The Jewish priests and Roman soldiers equally conspired to cheat the world, by a deliberate lie, out of that infinitely important fact on which the whole Gospel rests. Every revival of religion brings out confessions of this sort. The religion of these several classes is a religion supported, not by their reason, but by their passions. So it was with the religion of Jeroboam.

4. It may be our duty so to bear testimony against errors and vices, as to refuse to eat or drink or associate with those on whom they are found. And when the evil is so great as to call for this marked condemnation, no feelings of courtesy ought to turn us aside from the course of duty; nor ought such a withdrawment to be stigmatised as uncharitableness or bigotry. All this is fully supported by the history before us.

5. We learn from the history before us that strong resistance of temptation will not screen us from death if we are overcome at last. This man of God made a noble stand against the temptation by which he fell. When men have long resisted temptation and are overcome at last, they are prone to raise some excuse from the resistance they have made. But there is no excuse. The virtue of their past resistance is annihilated. They have sinned, and the sentence is out that they must die.

6. Seducers are often made the instruments of punishing their own victims. The old prophet, after decoying the man of God to his house and table, is made the organ of the terrible denunciation against him. The tempter becomes the instrument of punishment. In sin and sinful things is found the punishment of sin. If you touch what is polluted, it will thrust you through with a dart.

7. From this illuminated section of Divine providence we learn that good men, when they transgress, are often more severely punished in this life than the wicked. Instead of being protected by the sanctity of their profession, their nearness to God, the dignity of their office, or any services they may have rendered, they frequently receive a double portion of the cup of trembling. But there is another reason why, under certain circumstances, God punishes His children in this life more than others. When their sins are public, it behoves Him to wipe off the aspersion thus cast upon Himself.

8. This piece of history affords a specimen of the complexness of God's providence, and particularly the extensive effects which are sometimes connected with the punishment of His people, beyond the immediate ends of the chastisement. In the case under consideration, the immediate ends in view were to disown the communion which the prophet had held with idolaters, and to show those idolaters God's abhorrence of sin, and His unalterable deter-ruination to punish it on whomsoever found. But besides these ends, the miraculous death of the prophet for disobeying what he had publicly declared to be a part of his instructions, furnished irresistible proof of his Divine mission, and of the truth of the prediction which he had hurled against the altar of idols. By his death also his body was left at Bethel, where his sepulchre, with a broad and legible inscription, hard by the temple of idols, daily delivered anew the same denunciations of heaven, and proved a standing testimony against the idolaters.

9. God corrects His children "in measure," and does not let loose all His wrath, but in the midst of "wrath" remembers "mercy." Thus always does He break the stroke by which He chastises His children; and when the end of the infliction is answered, He opens to them a Father's heart. And at last, when for sin He has sunk them in death, He will set himself down to guard their dust until the last morning bids it rise.

(E. D. Griffiths, D. D.)

David, Jeroboam, Josiah
Bethel, Samaria
Pass, Prophet, Sat, Seated, Sitting, Table
1. Jeroboam's hand withers
6. and at the prayer of the prophet is restored
7. The prophet departs from Bethel
11. An old prophet brings him back
20. He is reproved by God
23. slain by a lion
26. buried by the old prophet
31. who confirms the prophecy
33. Jeroboam's obstinacy

Dictionary of Bible Themes
1 Kings 13:20

     1428   prophecy, OT inspiration

1 Kings 13:6-22

     4293   water

1 Kings 13:7-22

     4418   bread

Whether Christ Took Flesh of the Seed of David?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ did not take flesh of the seed of David. For Matthew, in tracing the genealogy of Christ, brings it down to Joseph. But Joseph was not Christ's father, as shown above ([4138]Q[28], A[1], ad 1,2). Therefore it seems that Christ was not descended from David. Objection 2: Further, Aaron was of the tribe of Levi, as related Ex. 6. Now Mary the Mother of Christ is called the cousin of Elizabeth, who was a daughter of Aaron, as is clear from Lk. 1:5,36. Therefore,
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Interpretation of Prophecy.
1. The scriptural idea of prophecy is widely removed from that of human foresight and presentiment. It is that of a revelation made by the Holy Spirit respecting the future, always in the interest of God's kingdom. It is no part of the plan of prophecy to gratify vain curiosity respecting "the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." Acts 1:7. "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God"--this is its key-note. In its form it is carefully adapted to this great end.
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible

And Yet, by Reason of that Affection of the Human Heart...
9. And yet, by reason of that affection of the human heart, whereby "no man ever hateth his own flesh," [2731] if men have reason to know that after their death their bodies will lack any thing which in each man's nation or country the wonted order of sepulture demandeth, it makes them sorrowful as men; and that which after death reacheth not unto them, they do before death fear for their bodies: so that we find in the Books of Kings, God by one prophet threatening another prophet who had transgressed
St. Augustine—On Care to Be Had for the Dead.

The Prophet Hosea.
GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS. That the kingdom of Israel was the object of the prophet's ministry is so evident, that upon this point all are, and cannot but be, agreed. But there is a difference of opinion as to whether the prophet was a fellow-countryman of those to whom he preached, or was called by God out of the kingdom of Judah. The latter has been asserted with great confidence by Maurer, among others, in his Observ. in Hos., in the Commentat. Theol. ii. i. p. 293. But the arguments
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Paul's Departure and Crown;
OR, AN EXPOSITION UPON 2 TIM. IV. 6-8 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR How great and glorious is the Christian's ultimate destiny--a kingdom and a crown! Surely it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive what ear never heard, nor mortal eye ever saw? the mansions of the blest--the realms of glory--'a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.' For whom can so precious an inheritance be intended? How are those treated in this world who are entitled to so glorious, so exalted, so eternal,
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The book[1] of Kings is strikingly unlike any modern historical narrative. Its comparative brevity, its curious perspective, and-with some brilliant exceptions--its relative monotony, are obvious to the most cursory perusal, and to understand these things is, in large measure, to understand the book. It covers a period of no less than four centuries. Beginning with the death of David and the accession of Solomon (1 Kings i., ii.) it traverses his reign with considerable fulness (1 Kings iii.-xi.),
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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