1 Kings 13:11-32
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…
I. THE SUCCESS OF THE PROPHET.
1. His sudden disappearance. History is silent regarding his birth, education, and family; his very name is concealed — simply, "The man of God, who came from Judah." Travellers tell us that the river Jordan, after springing out of the mountains of Anti-Lebanon, runs underground for miles, and then rushes forth suddenly, a strong, transparent current, and meanders towards the Dead Sea. Even so the early history of this prophet runs through the dark tunnel of silence, unseen by mortal eye; but at Bethel he rushes forth into public life with suddenness and force, and it is easier to imagine than describe the effect of his unexpected appearance both upon the king and populace. It was a moral ambuscade.
2. His stern honesty. When he arrived on the scene of action he did not shrink from his duties, but proclaimed his message as a man who felt the awfulness of his position.
3. His forgiving temper. Instead of taking advantage of the misfortune which befel the apostate king, the man of God prayed that his hand should be restored.
II. THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE PROPHET. Under our changing western sky, we have often seen the sun shining brilliantly in the morning, and at noon its smiling face was veiled by dark clouds. So the morning of this man's life was successful and promising, but soon and suddenly the meridian splendour of his character became tarnished by the clouds of misfortune. The best of men have their faults.
1. His indecision of character. Indecision is great blemish in a man's character — a crack through which the steam of resolution escapes — and an impediment in his way to accomplish any heroic deed.
2. That temptation is strongest when it comes in the guise of friendship. This renegade prophet enticed him into the net by false pretensions. Are we not troubled by these false prophets in modern times? Yea, they are found in the pulpit and under it, and yet they will not leave religion alone, but persist in offering strange fire upon the altar of God, like the sons of Aaron, and will, like them, receive their reward.
III. THE JUDICIAL DEATH OF THE PROPHET. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. His death shows —
1. That disobedience is a great sin.
2. Once a man steps off the path of duty he is out of the path of safety. We hear people often complain of Providence, whereas their misfortunes arise from their own folly. All the trouble which comes from God to meet us, He gives strength according to the days to bear and to conquer them; but the troubles that arise from perverse temper and wilful caprice in us, we cannot make God responsible for them, and so we must carry or drag them ourselves. Duty is like the "magic circle " of the old magicians — all that was inside it was perfectly safe, but all that was outside the ring was liable to be destroyed. Duty likewise is a magic circle — whilst we are inside destruction is impossible.
3. God showed mercy in judgment. Though the lion was permitted to slay him, he was not allowed to feast upon the dead body. Natural historians say that the king of the forest will not attack anything except when hungry. In this case we are not positive whether he was hungry or not, but we are told this much, that "the lion had not eaten the carcase nor torn the ass." Cruel animal! "hitherto shalt thou come, and no further." The man of God had a burial; the prophet of Bethel performed the ceremony, and pretended to mourn, saying, "Alas, my brother!" Nations and families often profess to weep after those whom they had ill-treated in their lifetime.
(W. A. Griffiths.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.