The Old Serpent Again
1 Kings 13:11-19
Now there dwelled an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel…

As the ways of the serpent are tortuous so are those of Satan. If he cannot effect his purposes by moving in one direction he will move in another, and thus by crooked ways he advances (Isaiah 27:1; Psalm 125:5). He had already tempted the man of God by means of the schismatic king, and failed; his next work is to see what influence an old prophet may have upon him. So versatile are his devices that it is our wisdom to be ever on the alert. Observe the adroitness with which he lays his plans. His astuteness is seen -


1. "The sons of the old prophet."

(1) They were near the altar. Whether by the contrivance of Satan, or that, finding them there, he made them his tools, is not revealed. Or whether they were there out of curiosity, or sympathy with the apostasy, is not revealed. But they were there - on the devil's ground. We must keep from that if we would escape mischief.

(2) They were witnesses of the words and works of God. So, might have been rebuked for sympathy with evil and admonished to separate themselves from it. They also saw the way the man of God took in returning to Judah.

(3) They lost no time in reporting to their father, urged, unconsciously to themselves, by Satan. We cannot always tell when we are prompted by the devil, or when he uses for his purposes our natural promptings. We should pray God to spare us the humiliation of serving Satan's purposes.

2. The old prophet himself.

(1) He was an "old" prophet, or had been a prophet in the old time before the apostasy of Jeroboam. Probably he had backslidden from God; for, though he did not appear at Bethel, he allowed his sons to be there. Had he not lost his old fire would he not have lifted his voice against the national sin? Backsliders from God become the devil's dupes.

(2) The energy of Satan is seen in the promptness of this old prophet's action. He quickly got information. He lost no time in the pursuit. The sluggishness of age was shaken off under the excitement of the devil's spur.

(3) But what was the old man's motive? Probably the desire to display that hospitality which the Easterns cultivated so carefully, mingled with a curiosity to know more about the wonders the man of God was commissioned to discover. But Satan's motive was very different. Beware that your motives become not subservient to those of the devil. Let your motives be pure and godly.


1. See the stratagem in Eden, repeated.

(1) Had Satan tempted Eve in his proper character he would have failed (1 Timothy 11:14). So the man of God was proof against the solicitations of the king whom he discerned to be the "man of sin" of his time.

(2) Satan therefore concealed himself under the sleek, lustrous form of a serpent, and deceived our mother. Then transferring himself to the fallen Eve, under her lovely disguise, overcame Adam. So, enshrining himself in the old prophet, he vanquished the "man of God." Beware of Satan's disguises. Especially beware of the religious devil.

(3) The offence, again, was eating. In Eden it was eating the forbidden thing. Note: The place may be right, the thing wrong. At Bethel it was eating in the forbidden place. Note: The thing may be right, the place wrong.

2. See the spirit of the devil.

(1) The spirit of cruelty. The old prophet knew that the man of God was forbidden to eat in Bethel, yet he importuned him to eat bread with him. Cruelty is no less real because sheathed in professions of kindness. Over-indulgent parents are their children's cruelest enemies.

(2) The spirit of treachery. The man of God had refused a king: will he withstand a prophet? (Jeremiah 23:18; Amos 2:11.)

(3) The spirit of lies (ver. 18). Now is Satan transformed into an angel of light. Could the old prophet have been himself thus deceived? He deceived the man of God. Beware of the devil of hospitality. Perhaps the man of God the more readily yielded being weak with fatigue and fasting (compare Matthew 4:2-4). No example, save that of Jesus, may be followed implicitly. - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.

WEB: Now there lived an old prophet in Bethel; and one of his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king.

The Nameless Prophet
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