1 Kings 20:35
And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.
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(35) A certain man—according to Josephus, Micaiah, the son of Imlah. This tradition, or conjecture, agrees well with the subsequent narrative in 1 Kings 22.

The sons of the prophets.—This phrase, constantly recurring in the history of Elijah and Elisha, first appears here. But the thing designated is apparently as old as the days of Samuel who is evidently surrounded by “a company” of disciples. (See 1Samuel 10:5; 1Samuel 10:10; 1Samuel 19:20.) The prophetic office seems never to have been, like the priesthood or kingship, hereditary. “Sonship,” therefore, no doubt means simply discipleship; and it is likely enough that the schools of the sons of the prophets were places of higher religious education, including many who did not look for the prophetic vocation; although the well-known words of Amos (Amos 7:14), “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son,” clearly indicate that from their ranks, generally though not invariably, the prophets were called. Probably the institution had fallen into disuse, and had been revived to seal and to secure the prophetic victory over Baal-worship. To Elijah the “sons of the prophets” look up with awe and some terror; to Elisha, with affectionate respect and trust.

1 Kings 20:35. A certain man said to his neighbour — Hebrew, אל רעהו, eel regnehu, to his companion, as St. Hierom translates it, that is, to a prophet bred in the same school with himself, who well understood the importance of obeying the command. In the word of the Lord — In the name and by the command of God, whereof, doubtless, he had informed him. Smite me, I pray thee — So as to wound me, 1 Kings 20:37. He speaks what God commanded him, though it was to his own hurt; by which obedience to God, he secretly reproacheth Ahab’s disobedience in a far easier matter. And this the prophet desires, by God’s appointment, that, looking like a wounded soldier, he might have the more free access to the king. And the man refused to smite him — Not out of contempt to God’s command, but probably, in tenderness to his brother.

20:31-43 This encouragement sinners have to repent and humble themselves before God; Have we not heard, that the God of Israel is a merciful God? Have we not found him so? That is gospel repentance, which flows from an apprehension of the mercy of God, in Christ; there is forgiveness with him. What a change is here! The most haughty in prosperity often are most abject in adversity; an evil spirit will thus affect a man in both these conditions. There are those on whom, like Ahab, success is ill bestowed; they know not how to serve either God or their generation, or even their own true interests with their prosperity: Let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness. The prophet designed to reprove Ahab by a parable. If a good prophet were punished for sparing his friend and God's when God said, Smite, of much sorer punishment should a wicked king be thought worthy, who spared his enemy and God's, when God said, Smite. Ahab went to his house, heavy and displeased, not truly penitent, or seeking to undo what he had done amiss; every way out of humour, notwithstanding his victory. Alas! many that hear the glad tidings of Christ, are busy and there till the day of salvation is gone.The sons of the prophets - The expression occurs here for the first time. It signifies (marginal references), the schools or colleges of prophets which existed in several of the Israelite, and probably of the Jewish, towns, where young men were regularly educated for the prophetical office. These "schools" make their first appearance under Samuel 1 Samuel 19:20. There is no distinct evidence that they continued later than the time of Elisha; but it is on the whole most probable that the institution survived the captivity, and that the bulk of the "prophets," whose works have come down to us belonged to them. Amos Amo 7:14-15 seems to speak as if his were an exceptional case.

Said unto his neighbor - Rather, "to his friend" or "companion " - to one who was, like himself, "a prophet's son," and who ought therefore to have perceived that his colleague spoke "in the word of the Lord."

1Ki 20:35-42. A Prophet Reproves Him.

35-38. Smite me—This prophet is supposed (1Ki 20:8) to have been Micaiah. The refusal of his neighbor to smite the prophet was manifestly wrong, as it was a withholding of necessary aid to a prophet in the discharge of a duty to which he had been called by God, and it was severely punished [1Ki 20:36], as a beacon to warn others (see on [321]1Ki 13:2-24). The prophet found a willing assistant, and then, waiting for Ahab, leads the king unconsciously, in the parabolic manner of Nathan (2Sa 12:1-4), to pronounce his own doom; and this consequent punishment was forthwith announced by a prophet (see on [322]1Ki 21:17).

Unto his neighbour, or brother; another son of the prophets.

In the word of the Lord; in the name and by the command of God, whereof doubtless he had informed him.

Smite me, so as to wound me, 1 Kings 20:37. He speaks what God commanded him, though it was to his own hurt; by which obedience to God he secretly reproacheth Ahab’s disobedience in a far easier matter. And this the prophet by God’s appointment desires, that looking like a wounded soldier, he might have the more free access to the king, and discourse with him; which it was very hard for a prophet to obtain, that sort of men being hateful to Ahab, 1 Kings 22:8, and to his courtiers.

The man refused to smite him; not out of contempt of God’s command, but most probably in tenderness and compassion to his brother.

And a certain man of the sons of the prophets,.... Which the Jews take to be Micaiah, and so Josephus (u), which is probable; the same that had been with Ahab more than once; and, whoever he was, it is not unlikely that he was the same, since Ahab knew him when his disguise was off, 1 Kings 20:41,

said unto his neighbour, in the word of the Lord, smite me, I pray thee; told his neighbour, that by the command of God he was ordered to bid him smite him, so as to wound him:

and the man refused to smite him; being his neighbour, and perhaps a fellow prophet, and having an affection for him.

(u) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 14. sect, 5.

And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, {q} Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.

(q) By this external sign he would more likely touch the king's heart.

35–43. A prophetic message rebuking Ahab because he had let Ben-hadad go (Not in Chronicles)

35. a certain man of the sons of the prophets] It is clear from what follows in the history (2 Kings 2) about the taking of Elijah into heaven, that in spite of Jezebel’s persecution, the prophets and their schools were not put down, but still flourished in various places. Josephus represents this ‘son of the prophets’ as Micaiah, spoken of in 1 Kings 22:8, and says that it was in consequence of this message about Ben-hadad’s deliverance that Ahab put him in prison. (Ant. viii. 14. 5.)

said unto his neighbour in [R.V. fellow by] the word of the Lord] The man to whom he made the request was probably one who like himself dwelt in one of the prophetic societies, and he ought therefore to have understood that there was some purpose in his companion’s request. Hence his sin in refusing to comply with it. ‘Fellow’ gives the idea of men of the same guild better than ‘neighbour’. The expression ‘by the word of the Lord’ is found in a similar passage (1 Kings 13:17), and is the more usual form.

Smite me] He wished to personate a man who had been engaged in the battle and had suffered something from the enemy.

the man refused] Such a refusal was utterly at variance with the character of a prophet, who was to be prepared to obey at all costs a message which came as the word of the Lord. His companion puts the case very strongly in the next verse when he calls his own request ‘the voice of the Lord’.

Verse 35. - And a certain man [Heb. one man; cf. 1 Kings 13:11, note] of the sons of the prophets [Here mentioned for the first time, though the prophetic schools probably owed their existence, certainly their development, to Samuel. The בּנֵי הָנּ are of course not the children, but the pupils of the prophets. For this use of "son," cf. 1 Samuel 20:31 ("a son of death"); 2 Samuel 12:5; Deuteronomy 25:2; Matthew 23:15; 1 Kings 4:30; Ezra 2:1; John 17:12, and Amos 7:14. Gesenius refers to the Greek ἱατρῶν υἱοί ῤητόρων υἱοί, etc., and says that among the Persians "the disciples of the Magi are called, "Sons of Magi." The word, again, does not necessarily imply youth. That they were sometimes married men appears from 2 Kings 6:1, though this was probably after their collegiate life was ended. As they were called "sons," so their instructor, or head, was called "father" (1 Samuel 10:12)] said unto his neighbour [or companion. Another prophet is implied. It was because this "neighbour" was a prophet that his disregard of the word of the Lord was so sinful, and received such severe punishment], in the word of the Lord [see on 1 Kings 13:1], Smite me, I pray thee. [Why the prophet, in order to the accomplishment of his mission - which was to obtain from Ahab's own lips a confession of his deserts - why he should have been smitten, i.e., bruised and wounded, is not quite clear. For it is obvious that he might have sustained his part, told his story, and obtained a judgment from the king, without proceeding to such painful extremities. It is quite true that a person thus wounded would perhaps sustain the part of one who had been in battle better, but the wounds were in no way necessary to his disguise, and men do not court pain without imperious reasons. Besides, it was "in the word of the Lord" that these wounds were sought and received. It is quite clear, therefore, that it cannot have been merely to give him a claim to an audience with the king (Ewald) - he could easily have simulated wounds by means of bandages, which would at the same time have helped to disguise him - or that he might foreshadow in his own person the wounding which Ahab would receive (1 Kings 22:11), for of that he says nothing, or for any similar reason. The wounding, we may be quite sure, and the tragical circumstances connected therewith, are essential parts of the parable this prophet had to act, of the lesson he had to teach. 1%w the great lesson he had to convey, not to the king alone, but to the prophetic order and to the whole country, the lesson most necessary in that lawless age, was that of implicit unquestioning obedience to the Divine law. Ahab had just transgressed that law. He had "let go a man whom God had appointed to utter destruction;" he had heaped honours on the oppressor of his country, and in gratifying benevolent impulses had ignored the will and counsel of God (see on ver. 42). No doubt it seemed to him, as it has seemed to others since, that he had acted with rare magnanimity, and that his generosity in that age, an age which showed no mercy to the fallen, was unexampled. But he must be taught that he has no right to be generous at the expense of others; that God's will must be done even when it goes against the grain, when it contradicts impulses of kindness, and demands painful sacrifices. He is taught this by the prophetic word (ver. 42), but much more effectively by the actions which preceded it. A prophet required to smite a brother prophet, and that for no apparent reason, would no doubt find it repugnant to his feelings to do so; it would seem to him hard and cruel and shameful to smite a companion. But the prophet who refused to do this, who followed his benevolent impulses in preference to the word of the Lord, died for his sin - died forthwith by the visitation of God. What a lesson was this to king and country - for no doubt the incident would be bruited abroad, and the very strangeness of the whole proceeding would heighten the impression it made. Indeed, it is hardly possible to conceive a way in which the duty of unquestioning obedience could be more emphatically taught. When this prophet appeared before the king, a man had smitten and wounded him, disagreeable and painful as the task must have been, because of the word of the Lord; whilst a brother prophet, who declined the office because it was painful, had been slain by a wild beast. It is easy to see that there was here a solemn lesson for the king, and that the wounding gave it its edge.] And the man refused to smite him. 1 Kings 20:35The verdict of God upon Ahab's conduct towards Benhadad. - 1 Kings 20:35, 1 Kings 20:36. A disciple of the prophets received instructions from God, to announce to the king that God would punish him for letting Benhadad go, and to do this, as Nathan had formerly done in the case of David (2 Samuel 12:1.), by means of a symbolical action, whereby the king was led to pronounce sentence upon himself. The disciples of the prophets said to his companion, "in the word of Jehovah," i.e., by virtue of a revelation from God (see at 1 Kings 13:2), "Smite me;" and when the friend refused to smite him, he announced to him that because of this disobedience to the voice of the Lord, after his departure from him a lion would meet him and smite him, i.e., would kill him; a threat which was immediately fulfilled. This occurrence shows with how severe a punishment all opposition to the commandments of God to the prophets was followed, as a warning for others; just as in the similar occurrence in 1 Kings 13:24.
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