Friday, May 17, 2013
1st Kings 13:19-34 ...
Please note: only Bible Scripture itself is in italics, the rest is commentary.
The story continues with ...
But he (the old prophet) ... lied unto him ...
And as it turned out, what the old prophet said was wholly a device and stratagem of his own to persuade the man of God, (the young prophet) to return with him, that he might have his company and conversation.
So the young prophet ... went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water ... in which he sinned; for as he had most certainly the command of God not to eat and drink in that place, he ought to have had before he went back with him, the countermand from the Lord and not trusted in another person.
There are some things which may be said in the young prophet's favor, as if an apology for him ... as this old prophet was an ancient prophet of the Lord, as he appeared to be; and although he was forbidden to eat and drink in Bethel, he (the young prophet) thought he might be allowed to eat and drink with a prophet of the Lord.
Especially so, after the old prophet affirmed he had the direction of an angel of the Lord for it; nor could he conceive that the old prophet had any interest of his own to serve by it; but rather he might have thought the Lord, out of compassion on him as he sat under that oak, had countermanded his former orders, and the circumstances he was in might have made these pretenses plausible.
But the reality is ... he ought to have taken no directions but from the Lord himself; and in this he failed; he did eat bread in his house, and drink water; contrary to the express command of God.
And it came to pass as they sat at the table, that the Word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back ... that is, to the old prophet, who with a lie was the means of bringing back the young man of God to Bethel. The Word of the Lord did not come to the young prophet who had transgressed the command of the Lord, but to him who was the cause of it.
And he (the old prophet) being greatly affected, partly on his own account by the lie his conscience must have accused him of, and partly with the word that God brought unto him; cried unto the man of God, (the young prophet) that came from Judah, saying ... "Thus saith the Lord" ... being obliged to deliver, in the name of the Lord, what God said unto him ...
"Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord" ... the order that came out of His mouth ... "and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee" ... not to eat nor drink in Bethel ... "but camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, eat no bread, nor drink no water" ... this command he observed when first there, when he was invited to do such by the king.
Yet, after he had left Bethel, he was prevailed upon to return and transgress the command, the result being ... "thy carcass shall not come unto the sepulcher of thy fathers" ... signifying that he should die before he came back to the land of Judah, and he should be buried in another place which was about to be verified.
And it came to pass, after he (the old prophet) had eaten bread, and after he had drunk ... after he had finished the meal, which no doubt was shortened because of the word given him ... that he saddled for him the ass for the (young) prophet whom he had brought back ... that he might not walk on foot as he had when he first came.
And when he (the young prophet) was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him ... perhaps not far from Bethel ... and his carcass was cast in the way ... in the road, where it seems the lion seized him, and he fell ... and the ass stood by it ... disregarded and unhurt by the lion, though the (young) prophet was pulled off of him ... the lion also stood by the carcass ... not offering to tear it in pieces and devour it, but rather, as if he was the guard of it, to keep off all others from meddling with it.
These circumstances are very surprising, and show the thing to be of God ... for when the lion had done what he had a commission to do, which was to kill the young prophet, he was to do no more.
And behold, men passed by ... travelers on the road; nor did the lion offer to seize them, nor desert the carcass upon their approach ... and saw the carcass cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcass and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt ... in Bethel, and through them he came to have knowledge of it.
And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof ... the old prophet that had deceived him, by telling him a lie ... he said, "it is the man of God, (the young prophet) who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord" ... but not a syllable does he say of his own sin in deceiving him; though one would think his own conscience must smite him for it.
... "therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the Lord, which he (God) spake unto him."
And he spoke to his sons, saying, "saddle me the ass" ... it seems he had more than one, for he had sent away the man of God with one before.
And he went and found his carcass cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcass; the lion had not eaten the carcass, nor torn the ass ...
This had to be of God, in that the ass the young prophet rode upon should stand so quietly, and without fear by the carcass ... along with the lion and not run away; but both stayed till the old prophet came to take care of the young prophet's dead body, which shows the singular providence of God in this affair; though He chastised the man of God (the young prophet) with a temporal judgment for his offense, his death; yet he was dear to Him, (God) and even his corpse precious in His sight.
(A comment by Matthew Henry) ... "The preservation of his dead body ... was a token of God's mercy remembered in the midst of wrath. The lion that gently strangled him, or tore him, did not devour his dead body, nor so much as tear the ass. Nay, what was more, he did not set upon the travelers that passed by and saw it, nor upon the old prophet (who had reason enough to fear it) when he came to take up the corpse. The lion's commission was to kill the prophet, but he should go no further. Thus God showed that, though He was angry with him, the punishment went no farther than death ... his soul being preserved."
The lion perhaps made off as soon as he came, or if he stayed, the prophet was not afraid of him, seeing he did not attempt to devour the carcass, nor touch the ass, nor do any hurt to those that passed by ... And the (old) prophet took up the carcass of the man of God and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back and the old prophet came to the city to morn, and to bury him ... to perform the funeral rites, according to the custom of the place.
And he laid his carcass in his own grave ... perhaps in Bethel which he had prepared for himself; for the young prophet came from Judah and could not be buried in the sepulcher of his fathers. This was showing all the respect, and doing all honor to him that the old prophet could ... and they mourned over him.
And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spoke to his sons, saying "when I am dead, then bury me in the sepulcher wherein the man of God (the young prophet) is buried" ... as it was his own, it might be reasonably thought they would bury him in it; but, lest they should not, he gives them this charge ... "lay my bones beside his bones."
The old prophet's view in this was, that later when Josiah came to burn the bones of the priests, he would spare the bones of the man of God (the young prophet); and so his bones, lying by them, and mingled with them, would also be spared ... For the saying which he cried by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel ... was so proven in 2nd Kings 23:18.
After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way ... from the idolatrous practices he had started; that the priests should be offered on the altar in Bethel, and men's bones be burnt upon it ... although he had seen his altar rent, and the ashes poured out just as the man of God predicted; his own hand withered and restored again upon the prayer of the young prophet; all had been done already.
And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.
From John Gill's Commentary ... (edited for clarity.)
I wonder; did Jesus, as ... the lion of Judah ... stand guard over this young prophet's dead body as a sign that He watches over His saints even if bad things are allowed to happen to them?
Jeremiah 1:12 ... "Then said the Lord to me, You have seen well, for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it." (Amplified Bible)
One must conclude, at least concerning the young prophet ... that God was watching very closely over His Word.
A word of caution: we should learn from this ... as we often have to say no to the counsel of men in the world; we should also take pause, examine and put to the test those things which ... "Men of God" ... instruct us to do as we follow them.
This story has a mysterious and fascinating quality about it; I guess that is why I am intrigued by it.
I do wonder though ... why the young prophet was dealt with so harshly by God, when others were not.