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:…
The "old prophet," though here employed as the medium of a Divine message, had acted falsely towards his "brother" ("he lied unto him," ver. 18). The fact that he was content to remain in the land under the rule of Jeroboam was against him. As the Levites had been supplanted by a base priesthood, so the prophets in Israel would seem to be a degenerate race. It must have aggravated the bitterness of the remorse the "man of God" felt, that the prophet who had dealt so treacherously with him should be commissioned to pronounce the Divine sentence on his transgression. His case seems altogether a hard one. How shall we explain it? What lessons does it teach?
I. THE INFLEXIBILITY OF A DIVINE COMMAND. The command had been given clearly and positively (ver. 9), and He who gave it had in no way revoked it. The reasons for it remained as they were. The man of God greatly erred in giving more weight to the report of an angelic message delivered to another than to the clear voice of "the word of the Lord" in his own soul. "God is not a man, that he should lie; nor the son of man, that he should repent" (Numbers 23:19), and His commands can be abrogated only by others that are equally explicit and authoritative.
II. THE DANGER OF PARLEYING WITH THE TEMPTER. The integrity of the man of God was imperilled as soon as he began to listen to the persuasion that would lead him astray. The first deliverances of conscience are generally right, and we run great moral risk when we begin to question them. He who had resisted the allurements of the king yields to those of the seeming prophet. Moral evil is always most fascinating when it assumes a sacred disguise, and the false "prophet" is the most plausible and dangerous of all tempters.
III. THE GUILT OF DISOBEDIENCE. "To obey is better than sacrifice," etc. (1 Samuel 15:22, 23). The spirit of disobedience is the root of all practical iniquity. "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners" (Romans 5:19). A seemingly trifling offence may thus, especially under certain circumstances, have an important meaning, and entail fatal consequences out of all proportion to its outward form. It is on this principle, that every act of wilful wrong is a violation of the spirit of obedience, that St. James says, "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).
IV. THE TEMPORAL PENALTIES THAT FOLLOW THE SIN EVEN OF GOOD MEN. The "man of God" may have been at heart a true prophet, and may have received in another world the eternal reward of the true prophet; but his transgression involved him in a violent death, and he was denied the privilege, so much desired by every Hebrew, of having his body laid in the "sepulchre of his fathers." Sin may be pardoned and yet punished. The temporal penalty may be inflicted though Divine mercy cancels the eternal. David's sin is forgiven, but his child must die (2 Samuel 12:13, 14). Christ is "the propitiation for our sins," and His blood "cleanseth us from all sin," but He promises us no immunity from the ill effects, the shame and loss and pain and sorrow in which our sin may in this world involve us. - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: