The Two Erring Prophets
1 Kings 13:20-22
And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet that brought him back:…

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.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back:

WEB: It happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of Yahweh came to the prophet who brought him back;

The Disobedient Prophet
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