1 Kings 13:2
And he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD, "O altar, O altar, this is what the LORD says: 'A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David, and upon you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense upon you, and human bones will be burned upon you.'"
The Nameless ProphetA. Rowland 1 Kings 13:1, 2
The Fire of JehovahJ.A. Macdonald 1 Kings 13:1-3
The Pretensions of Error Deepen its ShameJ. Urquhart 1 Kings 13:1-10

Jeroboam went to inaugurate his feast of tabernacles at his principal temple in Bethel, and to give effect to the ceremonies officiated in person as high priest. Then, as he stood by the altar, censer in hand, he was confronted by the word of the Lord. A man of God from Judah denounced the altar in the words before us, which contain a very remarkable prophecy; and he authenticated his message by a miraculous sign. (Compare Mark 16:20.) The subject teaches -


1. This is evinced in His works of creation.

(1) There is foresight in the constitution and adjustments of the framework, and in the motions, of the orbs.

(2) Also in the anticipatory instincts of animals - storing of food, provisions for young. Moths deposit their eggs upon leaves, not used by themselves as food, but proper to sustain the larvae.

(3) And in the anticipatory faculties of man. Intelligent foresight in business, in politics, in science, in religion.

2. It is evinced in prophecy.

(1) Great outlines of the world's history pre-written there (see Genesis 9:25-27; Daniel 7.).

(2) Particular example here. (Compare this with 2 Kings 23:15-20.) The facts here were attested - By the Jews, on whose behalf they were ordered - By the Ephrathites, who would have impugned their authority if they could.

3. This example is too circumstantial to have been accidental.

(1) The child was to be of the house of David. Who but God could foresee that the house of David should occupy the throne of Judah at a distance of 856 years?

(2) Who but God could foresee that Bethel would then have passed from the kings of Israel under the dominion of Judah? (See 2 Chronicles 13:19.)

(3) Who but God could foresee that at a distance of 840 years a child should be born to the house of David, bearing the name of Josiah, who should in due time do these things?

(4) Who else could anticipate, even when Josiah received his name, that the grandson of the wicked Manasseh, and son of the no less wicked Amen, should come to the throne, and with pious zeal bring these things to pass? Note: Such prescience as God displayed in this prophecy, and such providence as He evinced in its accomplishment, encourage faith. They assure us that our very names are in His book (Philippians 4:8). They encourage prayer.


1. The message to Jeroboam was to this very effect.

(1) He bore His testimony against the altar. It had been consecrated, after a fashion, by the king, but God would desecrate it. The bodies of its priests were to be sacrificed upon it, and the bones of men were to be burnt upon it (1 Kings 13:2). God will accept no will worship - no worship ordered after the policy of statesmen.

(2) In the demolition of the altar, not only is the religion connected with it doomed to be overthrown, but the judgment involves its votaries - the king, his priests, his people.

(3) The testimony was strong. The man of God cried aloud. He did not quail in the presence of the king amidst his friends. God's messengers should never cringe nor quail God's word can never fail.

2. These things were an allegory.

(1) Many of the wonderful narratives of Holy Scripture may be thus understood. We have the famous example, Galatians 4:21-31.

(2) Here Jeroboam, like all other leaders in apostasy, was a forerunner of the Antichrist. As the religion of the "man of sin" is a caricature of the religion of Christ, so was that of Jeroboam a parody upon the Mosaic.

(3) Josiah was a type of Christ, the true Son of David. (Compare Isaiah 7:14.) Warning and mercy come before destruction. The army of Judah was stayed from crushing Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:24), and in the mission of the man of God there was mercy in the warning. Let the sinner be admonished not to refuse the gospel. - J.A.M.

He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art.
I. CONSCIENCE, OF ITSELF ALONE, IS NOT A SUFFICIENT GUIDE FOR LIFE. Every night, set in the front of the locomotive as it dashes on through the darkness, gleam the rays of the headlight, piercing the gloom for a mile ahead. So, say many, man is himself luminous. Surround him with whatever darkness, and at once it is pierced and thrust aside by a blaze of inherent radiance. But neither Scripture nor experience sustains such notion. Yet conscience is a guide for life. Still, simply in itself conscience is not a sufficient guide for life. For, conscience does not possess the power of origination. It cannot make right right, or wrong wrong. It is only our power of recognising the distinction already made, and as eternal as the heavens. And, just as a blind eye cannot distinguish between night and day; just as a guide-board wrongly written may send the wearied and famished traveller from the warmth and help of home; so may a blinded, misinformed conscience lead toward wrong instead of toward the right. And therefore, if a man would do the right, he must not only follow his conscience, but he must follow a conscience educated into a knowledge of a higher law; of a standard higher than itself; a conscience conformed and bending to some exact and supremely reigning rule. This, then, is the all-important question — where may the conscience find such enlightenment and education? The answer is immediate. In the Bible and especially in the character of Christ, standing out from the pages of the Bible, gathering up into Himself the vigour of its law, the loveliness of its mercy, the winningness of its invitation. God manifest in the flesh is the real standard and education for the conscience.

II. LEARN THE DANGER OF MAKING FEELING, RATHER THAN AN ENLIGHTENED CONSCIENCE, THE TEST FOR LIFE. Feeling is not to rule. Conscience, educated by the Divine command and teaching, is always to rule.

III. LEARN THE DANGER OF A CONSCIENTIOUS ERROR. It is no less error. It is not less surely sin. The prophet was conscientiously deceived. That did not hinder the Divine retribution. It does make all difference what a man believes. It does make all difference if a man conscientiously hold to what is false. God has not only given conscience; He has also given light for conscience. It is a man's duty to hold his conscience in the light which God has given.

(W. Hoyt, D. D.)

I. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE ASSAILS THE BEST OF MEN. The man who now became the victim of temptation was no other than a prophet of the Lord. He was Heaven's appointed delegate. While in this world we are on the tempter's ground. His agencies thickly play around us, and try us in every point of our character. If invulnerable in one part we are tried in another. Through them the best of men have been overtaken in faults. Once they turned the meek Moses into a creature of stormy wrath; the spiritually minded David into a hideous adulterer; the bold indomitable Peter into a contemptible coward. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

II. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE INVARIABLY ACTS THROUGH THE AGENCY OF MAN. How did the tempting spirit appear to this prophet of Judah now? Not in the form of a serpent, as he appeared of old in Eden, nor in the form of an angel, but in the form of a MAN. The devil comes to man through man — acts on man by man. Look for the devil in man. Man is the tempter of man. The fact that man is the tempter of man shows:

1. The moral degradation of human nature. Man has become the tool of Satan. The false religionists, the hypocrites, the infidels, the blasphemers, the carnal, what are they? The instruments of the devil, to seduce and corrupt their fellow-men. Who shall destroy his works? There is One who can, and to Him we look, and in His all-conquering strength we trust. The fact that man is the tempter of man shows:

2. The necessity of constant watchfulness. In social circles be ever on your guard; be cautious as to the companionships you form, as to the books you read, as to the guides you follow.

III. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE ALWAYS ASSUMES THE GARB OF GOODNESS. The temptation came to this "old prophet" not only through a man, but under the garb of piety.O that deceit should steal such gentle shapes!The fact that the tempter ever assumes the garb of goodness teaches:

1. The latent sympathy with virtue that still exists in human nature. If men had a natural sympathy with error as error, wrong as wrong, the devil need not disguise himself so. All the mis-showings, hypocrisies, hollow pretensions, in this false world, are a practical homage rendered to that sympathy with virtue and truth which still exists in human nature. The devil himself appeals to this in order to succeed. The fact that temptation works under the form of goodness teaches:

2. The importance of cultivating the habit of looking through appearances. "Things are not what they seem." Every man "walketh in a vain show." Brush off the varnish and examine the wood; ring the coin and test it; melt the metal and ascertain its worth. Believe no man because he says he is a prophet; trust no man because he says he is a Christian; yield to no man because he professes to love you.


1. A matter of necessity. A tempter is a sinner, and no sinner has any consolation to offer to a sinner.

2. Prophetic. It shows what must be the case for ever. The response of every appeal in the future world of misery, of the infidel to his agonised disciple, of the seducer to his tormented victim will be "What is that to us? see thou to that."

V. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE ONCE YIELDED TO MAY ACCOMPLISH OUR RUIN. In the physical fate of this prophet we are reminded of two things:

1. The course of justice. That dead carcass lying in the wayside is an eloquent homily against sin. In it the voice of justice declares, with telling emphasis, that compliance even with the most plausible temptation is a sin, and that sin even in a good man, and a true prophet, must be punished. In the physical fate of this prophet we are reminded of:

2. The interposition of mercy. The ravenous lion, contrary to his instincts, instead of devouring his victim, stands over it as a kind guardian. Justice made that lion do so much, but mercy restrained him from doing more. Mercy triumphs over judgment. The philosophy of all human history is symbolised here. Justice goes with nature. It was the nature of the lion to destroy. Mercy interrupts the course of justice. It was contrary to the nature of the lion to guard rather than devour its victim.

VI. THAT THE TEMPTER OF OUR RACE IS COMPELLED TO DO HOMAGE TO THE VIRTUE HE HAS ASSAILED. There is not a being in the universe, even the prince of tempters, that is not bound by the laws of conscience to respect the virtue he seeks to destroy.


It is said that a few years ago a detachment of forty Russian soldiers — part of an advanced guard of reconnoitrers — crossed the Yalu river, Korea, to an island in the middle of the river, and there changed their costume, so that they might appear as civilian settlers instead of military invaders. This is said to have been one of the many features of the invasion of Korea compelling the recent strife between Japan and Russia. So sin and error often come in friendly guise, when their intention is very aggressive and destructive. We need much Divine wisdom to recognise the cunning devices of our enemies.

Sir Charles Follett, the chief of H.M. Customs, speaking on the clever tricks of smugglers says: "We have had many extraordinary dodges come under our notice. For instance, innocent looking loaves of bread, when accidentally examined, were discovered to have every particle of crumb removed from them, and the inside crammed with compressed tobacco. This is only one example of manifold specimens of cunning to bring in prohibited goods." How cunning is our great enemy to bring into our souls his contraband. Evil thoughts, desires, and deeds, covered with the most innocent and harmless-looking excuses; so that we need the wisdom from above if we are not to be unmindful of his devices.

(H. O. Mackey.)

David, Jeroboam, Josiah
Bethel, Samaria
Altar, Behold, Bones, Born, Burn, Burned, Burning, Burnt, Calleth, Child, Cried, David, Death, Human, Incense, Josiah, Josi'ah, Making, Men's, Named, O, Offer, Offerings, Order, Outcry, Perfume, Places, Priests, Sacrifice, Sacrificed, Saying, Says, Seed, Thus
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 13:2

     5061   sanctity of life
     5137   bones

1 Kings 13:1-3

     1429   prophecy, OT fulfilment
     8748   false religion

1 Kings 13:1-5

     1450   signs, kinds of

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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