1 Kings 13:23-34
And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the donkey, to wit…
I. MERCY DISPLAYED IN THE MIDST OF JUDGMENT. The sin may have been forgiven though the chastisement fell.
1. His body was preserved from dishonour. The lion's ferocity was bridled; the prophet's body was neither eaten nor torn; he guarded the remains from the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field.
(1) Though God chastises His erring people, He will not utterly cast them away.
(2) The fiercest instruments of His vengeance can go only so far as He permits them.
2. The message he had borne received added weight by his punishment. In his humiliation God was exalted. The circumstances showed that the blow was from the hand of God, and the question was no doubt raised in many a heart, if the Lord has so punished His servant's error, what will Israel's judgment be?
3. He still preached in his grave. He was buried near the altar, and over his tomb was graven the story of his mission and his fate (2 Kings 23:17).
II. THE PUNISHMENT OF UNFAITHFULNESS. When all has been said that can be of the attendant mercy, the judgment still stands out in terribleness. The prophet still preached, but the cry came up from the dark pathway of death. Its place was not among the vessels of mercy, but among the vessels of wrath. If we eat in idolatrous Bethel, even though it be in ignorance, God's hand will find us. He punishes now in spiritual leanness, and that again leads to deeper judgment; in the falling away of our children into indifference and worldliness and sin, and will not God demand their blood at our hand? God will have perfect compliance in regard to the conduct of His own worship; He demands "a pure offering." Are we making His word our only law? Whose altar are we serving, Jehovah's or Jeroboam's?
III. BETHEL'S ANSWER TO GOD'S WARNINGS.
1. The prophet's fear.
(1) He owned God's servant. He cared for his body, mourned over him with the cry, "Alas my brother!" placed him in his own tomb and had his own bones laid beside those of the man of God.
(2) He lifted up again God's testimony (ver. 32). The beginning of a better thing in Bethel is ever after this fashion: the honouring God's servants, cleaving to them, and continuing their work.
2. The king's unconcern. We are not told that he did anything worse than he had done before; he simply "returned not from his evil way." And this became sin to his house, to cut it off and to destroy it, etc. To bring upon ourselves God's judgments we need do no more than turn a deaf ear to His warnings. - J.U.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back.