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 MISSION OF THIS MAN OF GOD TO BETHEL IS A MOST IMPORTANT ONE. He is entrusted by his heavenly Master with unfolding the Divine judgments to King Jeroboam, on account of his great sin in making the lowest of the people priests of the high places, and in consequence also of his open and zealous patronage of the most abominable idolatry.
1. The time of the prophet's arrival at Bethel. It happened when Jeroboam stood at the altar to burn incense. To face a guilty monarch and unveil the Divine denunciations threatened on account of his rebellious conduct, is by no means an easy task.
2. The mode of address. He addresses himself not to the guilty monarch, but as if he wished Jeroboam to feel he had forfeited the honour of being addressed like a rational agent, the prophet accosts the inanimate altar, that altar by which the king now usurpingly stood to burn incense. "O altar, altar!" he cries, not in his own name, but in the name of that God who sent him, "Thus saith the Lord."
3. The matter of the prophet's address. Now it is well worthy of remark, that though this predicted king is so particularly mentioned by name, none of the kings of Israel thought fit to assume the name, until the real and good Josiah himself. appeared as the executor of all the vengeance of a righteous God against sin. This name was given by the wicked Manasseh to his son quite undesignedly, a name which was to be the terrible watchword of the downfall of idolatry practised by Manasseh and Jeroboam: it was a name given by Manasseh to his son, in spite, as it were, of Manasseh himself, in diametrical opposition to Manasseh's policy
II. REGARD HIS TEST OF OBEDIENCE. The man of God having executed in a bold and faithful manner the grave commission on trusted to him, is preparing to take his departure, when Jeroboam, anxious it would appear to render the man of God some recompense for his kindness in having petitioned the Majesty of Heaven to restore his hand, approaches him with the friendly invitation. The prophet having manfully, by the grace of God, resisted the temptation of the king's invitation, is already on the way back to Judah, the way pointed out by the Lord for him to take. But although he has resisted one temptation and got apparently clear of Bethel, he is not yet safe. We are never secure while we are pilgrims and travellers in this world, which is not our rest, against the varied and constant assaults of Satan's temptations; as soon as one temptation is overcome, another is ready to overtake us on life's road; which teaches us ever to be watchful and prayerful.
III. THE PROPHET'S DISOBEDIENCE, AND ITS RESULT. How does the faith of the man of God now stand against this tremendous trial? He, who had a little previous so triumphantly combated the temptation to eat bread and drink water at a royal table, now, alas! totters in his obedience, and listens to the unlikely lie of an aged prophet, sanctioned, as he diabolically pretended, by an angel's revelation, and consents to return with him. The most dangerous form temptation can assume, is that of a lie, disguised in the mantle of truth, uttered by the ravening wolf clad in the sheep's clothing. By the snares of this temptation, the prophet now fell into the labyrinth of disobedience. It is Satan's master temptation. By this truth-gilded lie our first parents fell, and sin and death entered into the world. The devil put on a goodly outside, entered into the then attractive serpent, approached our unsuspecting mother in that so sleek form, and led her to fail in the first great test of human obedience, which was to be the proof of man's love, the eating of the forbidden fruit. The man of God, disobedient to the Divine command, accompanies the old prophet back to Bethel. There, dead to the fearful consequences of what he is doing, he refreshes the exhausted body at the board of hospitality. Swift indeed, and signal is the punishment inflicted on the man of God, and some may think the punishment severe; but the disobedience of the prophet in eating bread and drinking water was aggravated by the circumstances under which it was committed. Learn a lesson from this sorrowful circumstance, which Jeroboam failed to learn, even the lesson of obedience to the Word of God. Keep only in the track pointed out by that Word, though an angel from heaven might tell thee to do contrary to its Divine message to thy soul. Obey its every precept, small or great.
(R. Jones, M. A.)
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.