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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

1 Kings 13

Verse 1

1Ki 13:1 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.

Ver. 1. And, behold, there came a man of God. ] A prophet, 1Ki 13:18 but whether Shemaiah, as Tertullian saith, or Joel, or Theodoret, or Iddo, as Josephus, or some other, it is not known.

Out of Judah. ] Who "yet ruled with God, and was faithful with the saints," Hos 11:12 though shortly after the faithful city became a harlot, a very Poneropolis. Isa 1:21

By the word of the Lord. ] Or, With the word of the Lord.

Unto Bethel. ] Now become Bethaven: where at that mock feast of tabernacles 1Ki 12:33 was a great assembly, and so the fitter opportunity for a prophet to warn this backslidden people: but they were revolted and gone. Jer 5:23 Once they quarrelled the erecting of but a new altar by the Reubenites, and were ready to kill and slay, Jos 22:10-34 but now it was far otherwise. Oh, where is our ancient fervour and forwardness? and why is our "silver become dross, our wine mixed with water" Isa 1:22

Verse 2

1Ki 13:2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.

Ver. 2. And he cried against the altar. ] Directing his speech to it out of detestation of such an abomination: and as having no hope to prevail with Jeroboam, who stood by it, and was more insensible than that altar, or than the heap of stones that Bede once preached unto.

Behold, a child shall be born. ] Above three hundred years hence. Future events - such as are contingent - are known to God only. For prophecies this rule is given; when the prophets foretold things ut futura in seipsis, then they always fell out; but when they foretold them only as in their causes, they might fall out, or not, as Isa 38:1 1Ki 21:20 John 3:4 .

And men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.] Other men’s bones beside priests’. Jeroboam’s likely, who upon this prophecy should have made all "the stones of his altars as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder: this is all the fruit, to take away his sin,." Isa 27:9

Verse 3

1Ki 13:3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This [is] the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that [are] upon it shall be poured out.

Ver. 3. Behold, the altar shall be rent. ] To foreshow the downfall of that idolatry. So the veil of the temple rent at Christ’s death, Mat 27:51 to show that there was an end of the Levitical liturgy. And so, about the beginning of the Reformation by Luther, a great solid stone fell down upon a brass image of Peter in Rome, that had those words fairly embossed upon it, Tu es Petrus, &c., You are Peter &c., and so shattered it to pieces, that nothing was left legible, but only those words, Aedificabo Ecclesiam meam, I will build my Church. This might be a foretoken of Rome’s ruin: which God hath already begun, and will surely perfect.

Verse 4

1Ki 13:4 And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.

Ver. 4. That he put forth his hand. ] To apprehend the prophet, or for a sign to others to do it. "Hear and give ear," saith the prophet, "be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken it." Jer 13:15 But

Corde stat inflato pauper honore dato.

Jeroboam - a poor widow’s son, 1Ki 11:26 or, as the Septuagint hath it, a harlot’s son - being advanced by God to a kingdom, rebelleth, and becometh a ringleader of rebellion against him putting forth the same hand against the prophet, that he had lifted up before against his prince. 1Ki 11:26 But what came of it?

And his hand which he put forth against him dried, &c. ] A fearful stroke, had he well considered it: but his heart was as hard as his hand withered. Jeroboam had as great a miracle wrought before him herein, as St Paul had at his conversion; but without the Spirit’s concurrence neither miracle, nor ministry, nor misery, nor mercy, can in the least measure mollify the heart of an obdurate and obstinate sinner. Valens, the Arian emperor, would have signed a sentence of banishment against Basil, but could not, by reason of a sudden trembling of his right hand, so that he could not write one letter of his own name, but for anger tore the paper in pieces, and let Basil alone. a There is a story of one of our late innovators, who, turning with the times, and beginning to bow toward altars, never went upright more: and of another, who, hearing perjury condemned by a godly preacher, and how it never escaped unpunished, said in a bravery, "I have often forsworn myself, and yet my right hand is no shorter than my left." These words he had scarce uttered, when such an inflammation arose in that hand, that he was forced to go to the surgeon, and cut it off, lest it should have infected the whole body; and so it became shorter than the other b The Jews tell us, that when Jeroboam’s hand was dried up, the false prophets told him that this happened by chance, and so kept him from thinking of God who had smitten him. Let the saints learn to put their confidence in God: for if he deny concourse and influence, the arm of all adverse power shrinketh up presently.

a Nullum spicem complere potuit. - Hist. Tripart.

b Mr Clark’s Mirror, 204.

Verse 5

1Ki 13:5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.

Ver. 5. The altar was rent. ] But not till the violence intended against God’s prophet was revenged: so dear to him are such, and so tender is he of their safety.

According to the sign. ] This might have convinced and reclaimed those idolaters, had not their necks been possessed with an iron sinew.

Verse 6

1Ki 13:6 And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored him again, and became as [it was] before.

Ver. 6. Intreat now the face - seek the favour for me - of the Lord thy God.] He could not say, My God, for he had chosen other gods, forsaken his own mercies, and was miserable by his own election.

And the king’s hand was restored again.] Such is the power of prayer. Jam 5:16 A like example we find in Nicephorns and Cedrenus, of a certain profane painter in Constantinople, who, assaying to paint Christ in the form of Jupiter, had his hand in like sort dried up and withered. But upon humble confession of his fault, he was healed again, at the devout prayer of Gennadius, bishop of that city.

And became as it was before. ] But his heart continued as hard and inflexible as ever. See on 1 Kings 13:4 .

Verse 7

1Ki 13:7 And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward.

Ver. 7. And I will give thee a reward. ] He could do anything sooner than repent; Rom 2:5 his face he had made harder than any rock, he refused to return. Jer 5:3

Verse 8

1Ki 13:8 And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:

Ver. 8. If thou wilt give me half thine house. ] We must not be bribed out of our innocency; but reject the devil’s offers, though never so large; as Luther did a cardinalship, and as Pellican did the bishop’s silver bowl, sent him for a token.

Hem! Germana illa bestia non curat aurum!

Verse 9

1Ki 13:9 For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.

Ver. 9. Eat no bread, nor drink water. ] Figura haec erat Ecclesiasticae censurae et excommunicationis, say Cyprian and Rupert; this figured out the censure of the Church against heretics, and other foul offenders, 1Co 5:11 "with such a one, no, not to eat" or consort, "that they may be ashamed." 2Th 3:14

Nor turn again by the same way. ] God thought the worse of the way to that wicked place, where Satan’s throne was.

Verse 10

1Ki 13:10 So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Bethel.

Ver. 10. So he went another way. ] This was well done, though afterwards he failed and flinched; as did likewise Gropperus; who first refused a cardinal’s hat, and yet afterwards was a turncoat. So did Speiserus at Augsburg, in Germany, A.D. 1523, and Brissomettus at Meldas, in France, about the same time. Non praestitit constantiam, et ab incepto destitit, saith mine author, he stuck not to his principles. a

a Scultet., Annal.

Verse 11

1Ki 13:11 Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.

Ver. 11. Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel. ] A prophet of God, likely, but corrupt, resty, vicious. Prophecy doth not always presuppose sanctification. The Chaldee here calleth him Michal, the false prophet; Josephus, Rupertus, Cajetan, and others hold the same. See reasons to the contrary in Junius upon the text.

And his sons came and told him. ] Had this old prophet been so good as he should, why dwelt he at Bethel? Why came he from Samaria to dwell there? 2Ki 23:18 and what make his sons at Jeroboam’s idolatrous worship?

Verse 12

1Ki 13:12 And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah.

Ver. 12. For his sons had seen what way the man of God went. ] As well they might, for he went away immediately after he had delivered his message, which also was such as they had reason to look after him; though better they had not, since by that means their father fell into so grievous a sin.

Verse 13

1Ki 13:13 And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon,

Ver. 13. So they saddled him the ass. ] Children must cheerfully obey their parents; and not stick at any service within their power.

Verse 14

1Ki 13:14 And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, [Art] thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I [am].

Ver. 14. Sitting under an oak. ] Or, An elm, as some render it; Insignem arborem significat, saith Vatablus. He was hungry and weary, as was likewise Elias when he sat under the juniper. God oft holdeth his best children to strait allowance here, and causeth them to suffer hardship.

Verse 15

1Ki 13:15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.

Ver. 15. Come home with me, and eat bread. ] This was cruel courtesy, cut-throat kindness, such as the world is full of.

Verse 16

1Ki 13:16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:

Ver. 16. Neither will I eat bread. ] Though I have need enough, yet I must be resolute, because God’s charge was absolute.

Verse 17

1Ki 13:17 For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.

Ver. 17. For it was said. ] Heb., A word was. Tremellius rendereth it, Verbum edixit mihi ex verbo Iehovae, and expoundeth it of the essential Word of God, Jesus Christ, declaring here the will of his Father. And some other divines hold, that wherever in the Old Testament God is brought in speaking, we are to understand it of the second person in Trinity.

Verse 18

1Ki 13:18 He said unto him, I [am] a prophet also as thou [art]; and an 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.

Ver. 18. I am a prophet also. ] A prophet, and yet tell a lie! What a foul business is that! It was wont to be said, Sacerdos est, non fallet: Christianus est, non mentietur. But afterwards it became a proverb, ‘A friar a liar.’

And an angel spake unto me. ] Lie and all; unless it were an angel of darkness, such as Pisanus a reporteth spake to John of Alvern, a friar, when in a rapture, indeed in a diabolical delusion, he was elevated above every creature; and his soul swallowed up in the abyss of the divinity.

By the word of the Lord. ] This Bethelite boasting himself of a false gift, was like clouds and wind without rain, as the wise man hath it. Pro 25:14

That he may eat bread. ] This, to a hungry man, was a sore temptation, and soon yielded unto.

But he lied unto him. ] And thereby cheated him into the lion’s mouth: so do sect masters simple men and silly women, into the devil’s danger. Nothing is so apt to deceive as the fairest semblances, as the sweetest words. We cannot be deceived, saith a reverend writer, if we believe not the speech for the person, but the person for the speech. A good man, saith another, may act for Satan, and not discern it. Mat 16:23 Mr Archer, a holy man, did hold and broach hellish opinions. The temptation lieth in this, when angels from heaven, men of singular parts and piety, preach other doctrines. Gal 1:8

a Ex lib. conformitat.

Verse 19

1Ki 13:19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.

Ver. 19. So he went back with him. ] He was too light of belief, and too easily entreated; his male suada fames might prompt him thereunto. Gregory thinks he might be self-conceited at his precedent doings and good success: to humble him, therefore, he is thus suffered to fall. Or it may be, saith Martyr, God was offended with him because he stayed by the way, and made no more haste back again. If he had prayed for direction, and paused a while upon this pretended countermand, he had not, likely, so miscarried.

Verse 20

1Ki 13:20 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:

Ver. 20. And it came to pass, as they sat at the table. ] Where this prophet was eating and drinking against God’s express charge, there doth he hear his doom denounced by the same mouth that had seduced him; Ut inde poenam veraciter sumeret unde culpam negligenter admisit, saith Gregory, that the punishment might answer to the sin.

That the word of the Lord came, ] sc., By some internal inspiration, or prophetic ecstasy.

Verse 21

1Ki 13:21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee,

Ver. 21. Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed. ] Thus this old impostor was forced to condemn himself for deceit, as well as the other prophet for disobedience.

Verse 22

1Ki 13:22 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, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.

Ver. 22. And hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, &c. ] There is in the "Acts and Monuments of the Church," a memorable story of Bishop Ridley, who offering to preach before the Lady Mary, and being repulsed, he was brought by Sir Thomas Warton, her servant, to the dining place, and desired to drink: which after he had done, he paused a while, looking very sadly, and suddenly broke out into these words, Surely I have done amiss! Why so, quoth the knight? For I have drunk, said he, in that place where God’s word offered hath been refused: whereas if I had remembered my duty, I had departed immediately, shaking off the dust of my shoes for a testimony against this house. These words were by the said bishop spoken with such a vehemency, that some of the hearers afterwards confessed the hairs to stand upright on their heads. a

Thy carcass shall not come. ] Thou shalt die ere thou come home. This was a gracious warning, that he might repent of his sin before he died.

a Act. and Mon., fol. 1270.

Verse 23

1Ki 13:23 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.

Ver. 23. That he saddled for him the ass. ] So courteous he was and officious now to him; whom before he had betrayed into the hands of divine justice: so thinking to make him some amends. But why did he not go back with him, whom he had fetched back? Surely for fear he should taste of the same whip with him. Thus the mischievous guides of wickedness leave a man when they have led him to his bane; as familiar devils forsake their witches, when they have brought them once into fetters. a

a Dr Hall.

Verse 24

1Ki 13:24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.

Ver. 24. A lion met him by the way, and slew him. ] Oh, the severity of God against sin in his very own! Neither can all their obedience bear out one disobedience, against a particular express command especially, as in our first parents, Moses, Jonas, &c., may be seen. Abhor therefore that which is evil, Rom 12:9 and fear Almighty God - as those mongrels did 2Ki 17:33 - if but for his lions. The Bethelites might well see in this dreadful execution how much God abhorred them, and easily forsee what heavy judgments would be inflicted upon them for their abominable idolatries. See 1Pe 4:17 Ezekiel 24:24 .

And his carcass was cast in the way. ] Not devoured by that ravenous beast, whose mouth was by God both opened to slay the prophet, and again shut, to show his power, dum praedae factus est praedae suae custos, while the lion becomes a guardian to the prophet whom he had slain, and a means to make the ass stay there in a readiness to bear his dead master to the burial. Who seeth not in all this an overruling command, and sweet providence of God, such as is still frequently seen in permitting and restraining the rage of unreasonable men?

The lion also stood by the carcass. ] His not meddling with the carcass, as his nature inclined him, showed that God sent him. So when men can deny themselves in doing God service, &c.

Verse 25

1Ki 13:25 And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told [it] in the city where the old prophet dwelt.

Ver. 25. And they came and told it in the city, ] i.e., Bethel; the inhabitants whereof could not but hear this sad news with aching and quaking hearts, if they had any sense left. For they could not but hereby see that he was indeed a prophet of God - whose hand was so heavy upon him for not persevering to obey this command - and that therefore whatsoever he had foretold, should in due time be fulfilled, as the old prophet also herehence concluded. 1Ki 13:32

Verse 26

1Ki 13:26 And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard [thereof], he said, It [is] the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the LORD: 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 spake unto him.

Ver. 26. Who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord. ] Still his sin is styled disobedience, though he were tricked into it. It was no good excuse of our grandame Eve to say, The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.

Verse 27

1Ki 13:27 And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled [him].

Ver. 27. And they saddled him. ] See 1 Kings 13:13 .

Verse 28

1Ki 13:28 And he went and found his carcase cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcase: the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass.

Ver. 28. And found his carcass. ] See on 1 Kings 13:24 .

Nor torn the ass. ] Heb., Broken; though lions love to devour asses. All creatures are at God’s beck and call. The ass stands untouched, the man of God is torn, or broken.

Verse 29

1Ki 13:29 And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him.

Ver. 29. And the prophet took up the carcass. ] Which the lion, belike, left to him, and went away.

And laid it upon the ass. ] Which was kept alive for such a purpose.

And the old prophet came to the city to mourn. ] As good cause he had, not more for the man of God, who was Dei frumentum leonis dentibus commolitum, as Ignatius said of himself at his death, than for himself, who had seduced him to such an untimely end.

Verse 30

1Ki 13:30 And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, [saying], Alas, my brother!

Ver. 30. In his own grave. ] Which was ready made, it seems. See the like, Matthew 27:60 . Charles V carried the materials of his tomb with him up and down in his warlike expeditions.

Verse 31

1Ki 13:31 And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God [is] buried; lay my bones beside his bones:

Ver. 31. Lay my bones beside his bones. ] So David Pareus would be buried in the same sepulchre wherein were laid up the bones of his master Hier. Zanchius, A.D. 1591. a

a Parei vita operibus praefixa.

Verse 32

1Ki 13:32 For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which [are] in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.

Ver. 32. Which are in the cities of Samaria. ] So called here by anticipation. It seemeth of old to be called and belong to Shimronmeron. Joshua 11:1 ; Joshua 11:3 ; Jos 12:20

Shall surely come to pass. ] Heb., Being, shall be. Jehovah, the great essentiator, shall give being to his word assuredly. "Every morning doth he bring his judgments to light, he faileth not." Zep 3:5

Verse 33

1Ki 13:33 After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became [one] of the priests of the high places.

Ver. 33. After this thing Jeroboam returned not. ] All these wonderful accidents, as God’s hammers, did but beat upon cold iron. Wicked men grow worse and worse, till they have filled up the measure of their sins, and so wrath come upon them to the utmost. See Popelings. Revelation 9:21 ; Revelation 16:9 ; Rev 16:11

Whosoever would, he consecrated him. ] Heb., He filled his hand; that is, Jeroboam’s hand, as some sense it, they filled with money, to be made priests. Omnia Romae venalia. But it seemeth rather to allude to the custom of censecrating the Levitical priests, by filling their hands with sacrifices and gifts. Exo 29:9-10 Faciunt et vespae favos; simiae imitantur homines: wasps also have their honeycombs; and apes, that scorn of nature, do imitate men.

Verse 34

1Ki 13:34 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.

Ver. 34. And this thing became sin. ] This his obstinacy and pertinacy in his abominable idolatries, became his utter ruin. Fugite ergo, reges, eiusmodi exitum, fugiendo huiusmodi flagitium, saith Ambrose, a "Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings," and overturn not your houses by "lifting up your horns on high" against God.

a De Naboth Jezrael, chap. xi.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.