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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 13


A prophet of Judah prophesieth against the altar at Beth-el: Jeroboam offering him violence, his hand withereth; and, at the prayer of the prophet, is restored, 1 Kings 13:1-6.

He refusing the king’s entertainment, departeth from Beth-el, 1 Kings 13:7-10.

An old prophet seducing him, bringeth him back, 1 Kings 13:11-19.

He is for it reproved of God by the old prophet; and is slain by a lion; and buried by the old prophet; who confirmeth his prophecy, 1 Kings 13:20-32.

Jeroboam’s obstinacy, 1 Kings 13:33,1 Kings 13:34.

Verse 1

A man of God; a holy prophet. By the word of the Lord; by Divine inspiration and command.

Verse 2

He cried against the altar; and consequently, against all that worship, which is oft signified by the name of the altar. See Isaiah 19:19; 1 Corinthians 9:13; Hebrews 7:13; Hebrews 13:10. O altar, altar; he directs his speech to the altar, partly because the following signs were wrought upon it, and partly to signify that Jeroboam would no more regard his words than the altar did, and yet they should take effect.

A child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; which being done above three hundred years after this prophecy, plainly shows the absolute certainty of God’s providence and foreknowledge, even in the most contingent things. For this was in itself uncertain, and wholly depended upon man’s will, both as to the having of a child, and as to the giving it this name. Therefore God can certainly and effectually overrule man’s will which way he pleaseth; or else it was possible that this prediction should have been false, which is blasphemous to imagine.

Upon thee shall he offer the priests; synecdoehically, the bones of the priests, 2 Kings 23:15,2 Kings 23:16, whereby the altar should be defiled.

Verse 3

He gave a sign the same day, i. e. he then wrought a miracle, to assure them of the truth of his prophecy.

Verse 4

He put forth his hand, to point out the man whom he would have the people lay hands on, and to stir them up to do so.

From the altar; where it was employed in offering something upon it. Dried up, or withered; the muscles and sinews, the instruments of motion, were shrunk up. This God did, partly, to chastise Jeroboam for offering violence to the Lord’s prophet; partly, to secure the prophet against further violence; and partly, that in this example God might show how highly he resents the injuries done to his ministers in and for the faithful discharge of their office.

Verse 6

The king answered, i.e. spoke, as that word is oft used in both Testaments.

Entreat now the face of the Lord thy God, who by his zeal for time hath manifested himself to be thy God and Friend in a singular manner; and therefore will hear thy prayers for me, though he will not regard mine, because I have forsaken him and his worship.

The man of God besought the Lord, to assure Jeroboam that what he had said was not from ill-will to him, and that he heartily desired his reformation, not his ruin.

The king’s hand was restored again; partly, to assure him that the stroke was from God; partly, because he repented of that violence which he intended against the prophet, for which God inflicted it; and partly, that the goodness of God to him might have led him to repentance; or if he continued impenitent, leave him without all excuse.

Verse 7

Horrid stupidity! He desires to requite the instrument, but takes no notice of the chief cause and author of this great and wonderful mercy, which was God.

Verse 9

My refusal of thy favour is not from any contempt or hatred of thy person, but in obedience to the just command of my God, who hath forbidden me all further converse or communication with thee.

Eat no bread, nor drink water, to wit, in that place, or with that people; whereby God declares how detestable they were in God’s eyes; not because their idolatry was so bad as that of the heathens, but because they were vile apostates from the true God, and embraced this idolworship against the light of their own consciences, merely to comply with the king’s humour and command; and because their vicinity and relation to the tribe of Judah made this more dangerous, as to their infection by it.

Nor turn again by the same way that thou camest; that by thy avoiding the way that led thee to Beth-el as execrable, although thou wentest by my special command, thou mightest teach all others how much they should abhor that way, and all thoughts of going to that place, or to such people, upon any trivial and unnecessary occasion.

Verse 11

An old prophet; a prophet of the Lord; one to whom and by whom God did sometimes impart his mind, as is manifest from 1 Kings 13:20,1 Kings 13:21, and one first had a respect to the Lord’s holy prophets, and gave credit to their predictions; all which the following relation shows: but whether he was a holy and good man may justly be doubted, seeing all those qualifications might meet in a vicious man, to and by whom he may reveal some part of his mind, as he did to Balaam, Numbers 23:0, &c., and in such his other qualities are sometimes found; and we find him in a downright and premeditated lie, and that without any great temptation to it, 1 Kings 13:18. And albeit a holy prophet might possibly have continued in the kingdom of Israel, he would never have gone from his own habitation to dwell at Beth-el, the chief seat of idolatry, unless with design to preach against it; which it is evident he did not; his sons seem to have been present at, and to have joined with others in that idolatrous worship, 1 Kings 13:11, and that not without their father’s connivance. In Beth-el; for thither he came to dwell, probably expecting some great advantages from Jeroboam; but he came out of Samaria, 2 Kings 23:18, where he either was born, and had lived before; or his usual dwelling was at Beth-el, but had lately been at Samaria, and was now returned to Beth-el.

His sons came; who probably were eye and ear witnesses of what had passed.

Verse 14

Sitting under an oak; being faint and weary with his journey, and possibly with the heat, which makes him choose this shady place; and especially with hunger and thirst, 1 Kings 13:9. And he might easily guess that this was the old prophet, by his age and carriage, and, it may be, by his prophetical mantle, and by the character which his sons had given him.

Verse 16

i.e. In Beth-el, where thou desirest me to do it.

Verse 18

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.

Verse 20

As they sat at the table; there the prophet meets with a severe judgment, where he was pleasing himself with this seasonable refreshment.

The word of the Lord came by secret instinct into his mind, as sometimes God spake to Moses and other prophets when they were in company with others.

Unto the prophet that brought him back; so he makes this prophet publicly to call himself liar, and to pronounce a terrible sentence against him, to whom he professed so much kindness. Indeed the Hebrew words are ambiguous, and by others rendered thus, to the prophet whom he had brought back which agrees very well with the Hebrew phrase, and may seem to be the best translation, by comparing 1 Kings 13:23, where the very same phrase is so rendered; and 1 Kings 13:26, where this message is said to be spoken to him. But these arguments are not cogent; not that from 1 Kings 13:23, because it is a common thing for the same phrase in divers verses, and sometimes in one and the same verse, to be diversely used; nor that from 1 Kings 13:27, for that may be rendered concerning him. And therefore our translation is better, as is manifest from 1 Kings 13:21.

Verse 21

He cried with a loud voice, the effect of his passion, both for his own guilt and shame, and for the prophet’s approaching misery, and his unhappy influence both in procuring and in denouncing of it.

The mouth, i.e. the word of command coming out of his mouth; a metonymy of the cause for the effect.

Verse 22

i.e. Thou shalt not die a natural, but a violent death; and that in this journey, before thou returnest to thy native habitation; and thy carcass shall not be buried in the proper sepulchre; which was esteemed a kind of curse, and a note of infamy; as the contrary was reckoned an honour and blessing. See 1 Kings 14:13; Isaiah 14:19,Isaiah 14:20; Jeremiah 22:19; Jeremiah 26:23.

Verse 23

That he might sooner come to his home, and, if possible, escape the judgment threatened. But it is observable, he doth not accompany him; his guilty conscience making him to expect and fear to be involved in the same judgment with him.

Verse 24

A lion met him; for there were many lions in Judea, and this was brought hither by God’s special providence.

Why doth God punish a good man so severely for so small an offence?

Answ. First, His sin was not small, for it was a gross disobedience to a positive command.

Object. But he supposed, and was told by another prophet, that God had repealed his command, and so was deceived.

Answ. First, He had no sufficient discharge from the former command; for he neither was assured that the old man was a prophet, nor that the message he delivered was from God; but had reason to suspect the contrary, or at least to inquire the mind of God in this doubtful point, which he grossly neglected to do, and willingly believed the message, because it suited with his own inclination and necessity. Add to this, that he being a prophet was obliged to the greater exactness in obedience to all God’s precepts; and therefore this sin was much greater in him than in another, because hereby God was dishonoured, and the authority and success of his message blasted, and Jeroboam and the idolatrous Israelites hardened in their wicked courses, for the prevention whereof it was necessary that God should exercise severity towards him.

Answ. Secondly, As his sin was not so small, so his punishment was not so great, as may be imagined. For as to his outward man, his bodily death (which was a debt that he owed to God and nature) in this way was not so painful and terrible as many other kinds of death; and as to his soul, God, by giving him a gracious admonition both of his sin and danger, 1 Kings 13:21,1 Kings 13:22, awakened him to true repentance, which doubtless he practised, and so was prepared for his death, and by this sudden death freed from all the miseries of an evil time and world, and speedily let into eternal glory.

Answ. Thirdly, As the world and all men in it were made for God’s glory, and all their lives and deaths ought to be laid out in his service; so it cannot seem strange nor harsh if God should bring his deserved death upon him in this manner, for the accomplishment of his own glorious designs, as to vindicate his own honour and justice from the imputation of partiality; to assure the truth of his predictions, and thereby provoke Jeroboam and his idolatrous followers to repentance; to justify himself in all his dreadful judgments which he intended to inflict upon Jeroboam’s house, and the whole kingdom of Israel, for their cursed apostacy; and to warn all succeeding sinners not rashly to venture upon small sins, and especially to take heed of greater sins, for which they might expect far sorer punishments.

His carcass was cast in the way; his life and soul being gone, his dead body falls to the ground, and lies there.

The lion also stood by the carcass: See Poole "1 Kings 13:28".

Verse 26

Or rather,

concerning him; for so the particle lamed is oft used, as Genesis 10:13; Psalms 3:2; Psalms 91:11, compared with Matthew 4:6. See Poole "1 Kings 13:20".

Verse 27

Being secure as to himself, because so many others had been there without any harm; and because he perceived the prophet’s death was a judgment of God, and that for special reasons.

Verse 28

Here was a concurrence of miracles: That the ass did not run away from the lion, according to his nature and custom, but boldly stood still, as reserving himself for the carrying of the prophet to his burial; that the lion did not devour its prey, as the manner is; nor yet go away when he had done his work which he was sent for, but stood still; partly, to preserve the carcass of the prophet from other wild beasts or fowls, which would quickly have eaten it; partly, as an evidence that the prophet’s death was not casual, nor the effect of a lion’s hungry and ravenous disposition, but of God’s singular and just judgment; and consequently, that this prediction was Divine, and should be infallibly accomplished in its proper time; and partly, as a token of God’s favour to the deceased prophet, of whose very carcas: he took such special care; thereby signifying, that although for wise and just reasons he thought fit to take away his life, yet his remains were precious to him, and his soul did live in his sight.

Verse 30

So that threatening, 1 Kings 13:22, was fulfilled; and withal, the memory of his prophecy was revived and preserved among them, and his very carcass resting there might be a witness of their madness and desperate wickedness, in continuing their abominable idolatry after such an assurance of the dreadful effects of it.

They mourned over him; the old prophet, and his sons, and others, whom common humanity taught to lament the untimely death of so worthy a person.

Alas, my brother! was a usual form of expression in funeral lamentations. See Jeremiah 22:18.

Verse 31

That I may be secured from that judgment threatened 1 Kings 13:2.

Verse 32

Of Samaria, i.e. of the kingdom of Samaria, as it was called, though not when this fact was done, yet before these books were written. Samaria was properly the name of one city, 1 Kings 20:1; but from hence the whole kingdom of Israel was so called, Jeremiah 31:5; Hosea 7:1; Hosea 8:5; Amos 3:9; and the king of Israel is called the king of Samaria, 2 Kings 1:3; Hosea 10:7; and (as here) we read of the cities of Samaria, Ezra 4:10.

Verse 33

After this thing, i.e. after all these things; the singular number put for the plural; after so many, and evident, and successive miracles; which is noted to aggravate his infidelity and apostacy.

Made again of the lowest of the people priests; he abated not so much as a circumstance in his idolatrous worship.

Whosoever would; without any respect to tribe or family, or integrity of body, or mind, or life; all which were to be regarded in the priesthood.

He consecrated him, Heb. he filled his hand; of which phrase see Exodus 28:41; Exodus 29:9,Exodus 29:33.

Verse 34

This thing became sin; either an occasion of sin, and means of hardening all his posterity in their idolatry; or, a punishment, for so the word sin is oft used. This his obstinate continuance in his idolatry after such warnings was the utter ruin of all his family.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 13". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.