1 Kings 13:18
He said to him, I am a prophet also as you are; and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with you into your house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied to him.
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(18) An angel spake unto me.—The lie was gross, and ought to have been obvious to one who had received a plain command, and must have known that “God was not a man that He should lie, or the son of man that He should repent.” It was believed, no doubt, because it chimed in with some secret reluctance to obey, and, by obedience, to give up all reward and hospitality. Hence the belief was a self-deceit, and, as such, culpable. It is inexplicable that the condemnation which it drew down should have been thought strange by any who understands human nature, and knows the self-deceiving colour which our wish gives to our thought. (See the famous Sermon of Bishop Butler on “Self-deceit.”)

1 Kings 13:18. But he lied unto him — And yet, probably, not with any evil design, but out of curiosity, to know from his own mouth the truth and all the particulars of the message which he had just delivered to Jeroboam; and to express his kindness to him, and relieve his hunger and weariness, whereby, possibly, he thought he should please God. In this, however, he greatly erred, and involved both himself and the prophet from Judah in guilt and wrath.13:11-22 The old prophet's conduct proves that he was not really a godly man. When the change took place under Jeroboam, he preferred his ease and interest to his religion. He took a very bad method to bring the good prophet back. It was all a lie. Believers are most in danger of being drawn from their duty by plausible pretences of holiness. We may wonder that the wicked prophet went unpunished, while the holy man of God was suddenly and severely punished. What shall we make of this? The judgments of God are beyond our power to fathom; and there is a judgment to come. Nothing can excuse any act of wilful disobedience. This shows what they must expect who hearken to the great deceiver. They that yield to him as a tempter, will be terrified by him as a tormentor. Those whom he now fawns upon, he will afterwards fly upon; and whom he draws into sin, he will try to drive to despair.But he lied unto him - It is always to be remembered that the prophetic gift might co-exist with various degrees of moral imperfection in the person possessing it. Note especially the case of Balaam. 18. an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord—This circuitous mode of speaking, instead of simply saying, "the Lord spake to me," was adopted to hide an equivocation, to conceal a double meaning—an inferior sense given to the word "angel"—to offer a seemingly superior authority to persuade the prophet, while really the authority was secretly known to the speaker to be inferior. The "angel," that is, "messenger," was his own sons, who were worshippers, perhaps priests, at Beth-el. As this man was governed by self-interest, and wished to curry favor with the king (whose purpose to adhere to his religious polity, he feared, might be shaken by the portents that had occurred), his hastening after the prophet of Judah, the deception he practised, and the urgent invitation by which, on the ground of a falsehood, he prevailed on the too facile man of God to accompany him back to his house in Beth-el, were to create an impression in the king's mind that he was an impostor, who acted in opposition to his own statement. Not with evil design against him, but out of curiosity to know all the truth and circumstances from his own mouth, and to express his kindness to him, and to relieve his pressing hunger; whereby possibly he thought to please God, and to compensate for his miscarriages. But his sin was great; for he did not only tell a premeditated lie, but also made God a liar, and to contradict himself, and all this without any pretence of necessity, or benefit to himself. And he said unto him,.... That is, the old prophet said to the man of God:

I am a prophet also as thou art; meaning, that he was a prophet of the true God, and not of any idol deity; that he not only believed in him, and was a worshipper of him, but had revelations from him, and of the same things this man of God had, and that he believed that what he had prophesied of would certainly come to pass:

and an angel spoke unto me by the word of the Lord; was sent and dispatched by the order of the Lord with the following message:

saying, bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water; and so be refreshed, and be fit to proceed on in his journey:

but he lied unto him; no messenger nor message being sent to him by the Lord, but was wholly a device and stratagem of his own to persuade the man of God to return with him, that he might have his company and conversation.

He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an {h} angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.

(h) His fault is here double, first in that he did not permit the prophet to obey God's express commandment, and next that he pretended to have a revelation to the contrary.

18. He said unto him] The Hebrew has the conjunction ‘And he said’: there is no reason for its omission in the English.

I am a prophet also] The order of the R.V. is to be preferred. ‘I also am a prophet’ i.e. as well as you.

an angel spake unto me] The old prophet does not lay claim to so solemn a message, as that which the prophet of Judah had received directly ‘by the word of the Lord.’ And in this the Judæan prophet’s sin lay that he did not seek as much confirmation for the reversed order as he had for that which came to him at first.Verse 18. - He said unto him; I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel (Bahr observes that "he does not venture to say that Jehovah spake to him, but says an angel did." Is it not more probable that the angel was mentioned, partly for the purpose of giving an air of circumstantiality and reality to his story, and partly to convey the idea of his having a superior authority for his message? A communication through a celestial messenger would seem to have been regarded as a higher form of revelation than a subjective communication to the mind of the prophet. Cf. Acts 7:53; Hebrews 2:2; Luke 1:13, 29; Acts 27:23, etc. Observe, the prophet speaks presently of "the word of Jehovah"] spake unto me by [Heb. in; same expression as in ver. 17] the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house that he may eat [Heb. and he shall eat] bread and drink water. But he lied to him. [These last words are inserted parenthetically; hence there is no "but" in the Heb. The true character and designs and motives of this "old prophet" have long been a crux interpretum (see Hall, Contempl., 2:151-3.) Some, including Josephus and most Jewish commentators, have supposed him to be altogether a false and lying prophet, such as are found plentifully later on in the history (1 Kings 22:6; Jeremiah 28:1); but against this is the fact that he was undoubtedly the channel of a Divine communication (ver. 21). The real difficulty, no doubt, lies in the fact that one by whom the Spirit of God spake to man should have acted so base a part as he did. But it must be remembered

(1) that he did not know what a terrible judgment his lie would bring upon "the man of God;"

(2) that truth had not the place in the Jewish scheme which it has in Christian morals;

(3) that the gift of prophecy is compatible with much moral imperfection on the part of the prophet - the cases of Balaam and Caiaphas will occur to all - and

(4) that this man was constrained to prophesy almost in spite of himself; he was compelled, i.e., to proclaim his own falseness, and to announce the punishment of the man he had himself deceived. It is also to be considered that this lying prophet, like those of 1 Kings 22:22, accomplished the purpose of God, which was to make the man of God a sign to the men of that generation. Cf. Isaiah 20:3; Ezekiel 12:6; Ezekiel 24:24. In this latter consideration, indeed, lies the key to the history, The object the old prophet had in view it is not so difficult to divine. He hears that the prophet of Judah has refused the hospitality of King Jeroboam, and has put the city of Bethel and the new cultus under a virtual ban by refusing to eat bread in the place, or to hold any communication with the inhabitants, himself among the rest, although he has taken no part, even by his presence, in the ceremonial of the day. He naturally feels himself condemned and aggrieved by this conduct. A prophet would feel the interdict much more keenly than the people, and there can be little doubt that this man, who had been trying to serve two masters, was deeply mortified by the excommunication pronounced against him. He resolves, therefore, to rehabilitate himself in his own estimation and that of his neighbours, by bringing back the man of God to eat and to drink, and so in effect to remove the interdict, at any cost. If he succeeds, he win make the whole city, and especially the sovereign, whose policy has been so emphatically condemned, his debtor; while by accomplishing what the king had failed to effect, he will at once heal his wounded pride and secure a position of influence in the new kingdom. If it was the hope of temporal advancement had detained him at Bethel, he now sees, as he thinks, an easy way to its attainment; if it was an ardent sympathy with the new state of things, he sees before him an opportunity of expressing it in a most practical and serviceable way.] Seduction of the man of God by an old prophet, and his consequent punishment. - 1 Kings 13:11-19. The man of God had resisted the invitations of Jeroboam, and set out by a different road to return to Judah. An old prophet at Bethel heard from his sons what had taken place (the singular בנו יבוא as compared with the plural ויספּרוּם may be explained on the supposition that first of all one son related the matter to his father, and that then the other sons supported the account given by the first); had his ass saddled; hurried after him, and found him sitting under the terebinth (the tree well known from that event); invited him to come into his house and eat with him; and when the latter appealed to the divine prohibition, said to him (1 Kings 13:18), "I am a prophet also as thou art, and an angel has said to me in the word of the Lord: Bring him back with thee into thy house, that he may eat and drink," and lied to him (לו כּחשׁ without a copula, because it is inserted as it were parenthetically, simply as an explanation) - then he went back with him, and ate and drank in his house.
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