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…
Now, in order to come to a right understanding of the conduct of "the man of God which came from Judah," and to appreciate the error of which he was guilty, and for which he suffered; it will be necessary to remember how critical were the circumstances under which he was called to act; how extensive and sacred were the interests which were, more or less, to be involved in the discharge of his mission to Bethel. He came on an express mission, to denounce the apostasy of the times. He came to confront the very author of all this mischief as he stood by the altar of his own pride; to tell him, and his benighted worshippers, of their blasphemy and iniquity; to prophesy the day, when God s signal vengeance should be poured on the altar at which they so blindly knelt; when one of His anointed servants, of the kingly race of David, should fearfully purge that land of its crimes; should destroy the houses, and all the priests of the reigning idolatry, and bum the very reliques of their bodies on the altars of their profane worship. Nothing, therefore, could have been more important, nothing more full of trust, than the mission of him who was thus sent from Judah to Bethel. His instructions must have been of the most solemn kind; and we have reason to know that they were in all things express and minute. Now, in reviewing the conduct of the prophet, we are fur. Dished with a key to a right apprehension of its error, and the cause of its signal punishment. In the outset of his conduct, when the temptation was manifest, and the snare but clumsily laid, he acted in every respect with fidelity and decision. Here, then, it becomes a natural question, — in what had the great guilt of the man of God consisted? True, he had disobeyed the Divine command; but was not the force of that command in a manner cancelled by what the old prophet professed? Could the prophet of Judah have judged that his aged brother was lying to him? if not, wherefore this great and summary punishment? The answer to this is that the "man of God" ought so to have judged. He should have remembered, that on the one part he would be obeying his Maker, whose will he fully knew; on the other, he would be listening to a mere mortal, whose truth and authority he did not know, but which he even had good reason to suspect. Against the dictates of conscience, and calm judgment, he yielded to the latter; and therefore brought himself under the displeasure and condemnation of his God. In such times of apostasy and disbelief as those, slight actions assumed the importance of great ones; especially if depending on the known will of God. The prophet of Judah was placed in a conspicuous and important pest; and it was essential that his conduct in it should be signally marked. As to the punishment itself, we only know that it affected the body; not a word do we know of the destiny of the soul. Lessons —
1. What God has commanded and sanctified, can be no trifle. If it be but a particle, a tittle of His will, it is enough. The least compromise on our part may tend to evil that we know not of; and our only safe and right course is in simple, implicit obedience.
2. Again, we must be always on our guard against the effect of any apparent sanctity in profession. "I am also a prophet as thou art," was the rock on which the prophet of Judah foundered. Let us not be so deceived. We know where to look for God's revealed will; we know where to look for its authorised interpretation and enforcement.
3. Finally, looking at the example in a more general point of view, let it teach us the peril of all dalliance, vacillation, and delay. Let us not be found sitting under the wayside oak; loitering on the world s highroad. We cannot toy and idle as we pass, in a region of contamination and guilt. Wherever there is one thoughtless, vacant, indifferent to his everlasting salvation, that man is first marked for a prey by his eternal foe.
(J. Puckle, 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.