I’ve been pondering the implications of 1 Kings 13 for several days now. There are portions of it I struggle with, which leave me with many questions, but there are some messages that are so clear I’d be remiss not to acknowledge them. So, with that disclaimer, I’ll give you an overview of the story.
It starts with a young prophet from Judah who goes to Bethel and gives a prophecy as well as a word about a sign that will confirm the fact that the prophecy will come to pass. The sign does happen just as the young prophet said, so we can assess he is a true prophet.
The Lord has given instructions to the young prophet which he relays in verse 9, that he is to fast (neither eat nor drink) and return home by a different route, which in verse 10 we see him begin to do.
Next we hear about an old prophet who lives in Bethel who takes off after the young prophet. He finds him and invites him to come home to dinner. The young prophet in verses 16-17 reiterates the instructions the Lord has given.
In verse 18, the old prophet tells the young prophet that he is a prophet too and an angel visited him to tell him to bring the young prophet to his home to eat. So the young prophet goes with him, making a pivotal decision to follow the prophetic voice over what the Lord had told him.
The last part of 18 though is where the reader starts to grasp that things may not go well for the young prophet. It tells us that the old prophet lied. In other words our young prophet deferred the instructions of the Lord for a false word. :/
After they’d eaten, the old prophet gives a word to the young prophet (a true one) that because he disobeyed the instruction of the Lord, he was going to die. The young prophet leaves and is killed by a lion, which did no harm to his donkey – it only killed the young prophet.
The old prophet weeps when he hears he’s dead and has him buried in his own tomb. He also instructs his sons that he wants to be buried with the young prophet because he was a true prophet of the Lord.
Thoughts & Lessons
Here’s some of the things that come to mind as I’ve pondered this story. First and foremost: ALWAYS obey the voice of the Lord above any other voice, even a prophetic voice claiming to speak for God, or an elder. We alone are responsible for doing what He tells us to do.
I can’t help but wonder if the young prophet doubted his ability to hear God? I know most of us struggle with those thoughts. In many ways it’s easier to obey a prophecy because we heard it with our fleshly ears and “know” we heard right, but the Lord desires us to strengthen our spiritual ears and how can we do that aside from hearing and obeying, hearing and obeying?
Prophetic words are wonderful and a gift from God, but we must always filter EVERY prophetic word we receive through what the Lord has spoken to us. Ultimately we alone are responsible for our own obedience. We need to know how to properly receive a word of the Lord. it is our responsibility to receive them rightly.
We also are reminded that prophets are not without flaws. The old prophet lied and yet his word about the death of the young prophet was very accurate! I can’t help but wonder why the old prophet lied. Was he upset the Lord sent some young whipper snapper from Judah to his hometown to give a word? Was he jealous? Did he feel slighted God didn’t use him?
I can’t help but wonder why the Lord allowed the old prophet to lie. Was He allowing the young prophet to be tested? And why allow him to be killed? It almost seems too cruel, but then I ponder how useless – and worse, potentially damaging – a prophet who doesn’t obey the Lord would be!
This brings to mind the end of Ecclesiastes, “Fear God and keep His whole commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13). I submit included in this is the Rhema word of God as well.
And finally, why did the old prophet weep? Did he regret his hand in the prophet’s death? Was he in pain bearing the weight of the severe consequences his fellow prophet had to bear as a result of heeding his own lie? Did the weight of his sin burden him? How often have we gotten to see the negative consequences others bore as a result of our own actions?
Lord help us to “Shema” – to listen and obey – to Your voice above all others. We desire to please You and live righteous lives that bring You glory. Help us to make decisions that don’t lead others astray either, but rather help us to encourage others to hear You and set their hearts on obedience as well. We desire to see You exalted! Be glorified through our lives.