Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 13:20

Now it came about, as they were sitting down at the table, that the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Falsehood;   Judgments;   Minister, Christian;   Prophets;   Scofield Reference Index - Miracles;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Disobedience to God;   Offence;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Iddo;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - False Prophet;   Prophet, Prophetess, Prophecy;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Miracles;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   Food;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Table;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jadon;   Meals;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bethel ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Balaam;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Meals;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Meals;   Old Prophet, the;   Triclinium;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Furniture, Household;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back - "A great clamor," says Dr. Kennicott, "has been raised against this part of the history, on account of God's denouncing sentence on the true prophet by the mouth of the false prophet: but if we examine with attention the original words here, they will be found to signify either he who brought him back; or, whom he had brought back; for the very same words, השיבו אשר asher heshibo, occur again in 1 Kings 13:23, where they are now translated, whom he had brought back; and where they cannot be translated otherwise. This being the case, we are at liberty to consider the word of the Lord as delivered to the true prophet thus brought back; and then the sentence is pronounced by God himself, calling to him out of heaven, as in Genesis 22:11. And that this doom was thus pronounced by God, not by the false prophet, we are assured in 1 Kings 13:26; : 'The Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, according to the word of the Lord which He spake unto him.' Josephus expressly asserts that the sentence was declared by God to the true prophet." The Arabic asserts the same.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-13.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

THE MESSAGE TO THE MAN OF GOD THROUGH THE FALSE PROPHET

"And it came to pass as they sat at the table, that the word of Jehovah came to the prophet that brought him back; and he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, Forasmuch as thou hast been disobedient unto the mouth of Jehovah, and hast not kept the commandment which Jehovah thy God commanded thee, but camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water: thy body shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers. 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. And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his body was cast in the way; and the ass stood by it; the lion also stood by the body. And, behold, men passed by, and saw the body cast in the way, and the lion standing by the body; and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt."

That the Word of God actually came to this evil old prophet should not surprise us. God also spoke to Balaam by the speech of a donkey. And there was apparently no appropriate medium in all of Bethel who could have served the purpose of God any better than this lying old prophet. When God actually spoke through him, he not only learned that the man of God was indeed an authentic spokesman from Jehovah, but he also came to believe all of the words which the man of God had spoken.

That the lion neither tore the donkey, nor ate the body of the slain prophet, nor fled from any of the passers-by, affirmed the presence of an element of the supernatural in the death of the man of God.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:20". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-kings-13.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it came to pass, as they sat at the table,.... The old prophet, with his sons, and the man of God; the Arabic version adds, "and did eat", there being a pause in the Hebrew text, as if something was wanting, and to be understood and supplied:

that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back; that is, to the old prophet, who was the means of bringing back the man of God; the word did not come to him who had transgressed the command of the Lord, but to him who was the occasion of it; though Abarbinel is of opinion that the word came to the latter, and so some versions, both ancient and modern, render the clause, "to the prophet whom he had brought back"F6Syr. Ar. Junius & Tremellius. and which is countenanced by what is said, 1 Kings 13:26,

according to the word of the Lord which he spoke unto him: but the former sense best agrees with what follows.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-13.html. 1999.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE DISOBEDIENT PROPHET

‘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,’ etc.

1 Kings 13:20

I. Consider what was the mission or work of this prophet of Judah.—Jeroboam, like many a statesman since his time, looked upon religion, not as the happiness and strength of his own life, but simply as an instrument of successful government. He saw that if, after the separation of the ten tribes, Jerusalem should still continue to be the religious centre of the whole nation, sooner or later it would become the political centre too. The prophet was to Jeroboam what Samuel was to Saul after the victory over Amalek. He announced God’s displeasure at the most critical moment of his life, when an uninterrupted success was crowned with high-handed rebellion against the gracious Being who had done everything for the rebel. The prophet placed the king under the ban of God. It was a service of the utmost danger; it was a service of corresponding honour.

II. Consider the temptations to which the Jewish prophet was exposed in the discharge of his mission.—It was not difficult for him to decline Jeroboam’s invitation to eat and drink with him. The invitation of the old prophet was a much more serious temptation, and had a different result. This old prophet was a religious adventurer who had a Divine commission and even supernatural gifts, yet who placed them at the service of Jeroboam. He wanted to bring the other prophet down to his own level. Looking at the sacred garb, the white hairs, of the old prophet of Beth-el, the prophet of Judah listened to the false appeal to his own Lord and Master, and he fell.

III. Notice the prophet’s punishment.—By a solemn, a terrible, irony the seducer was forced to pass a solemn sentence on his victim. If the sterner penalty was paid by the prophet who disobeyed, and not by the prophet who tempted, this is only what we see every day. The victims of false teaching too often suffer, while the tempter seems to escape. The lesson from the story is that our first duty is fidelity to God’s voice in conscience.

Canon Liddon.

Illustrations

(1) ‘No gifts could save this prophet from his ruin when once he left the pathway of obedience. He was a man of God inspired for a great work—there was given to him the power of working miracles—he was courageous and thoroughly in earnest—he had said in his heart “Here am I, send me”—yet darkness fell on him, and all was lost, spite of his calling, and all his gifts and graces, because he disobeyed the will of heaven. That is a lesson for the brightest boys, and for the girls who are beautiful or gifted. Are we not tempted to think, if we are finely dowered, that God will forgive us for a little liberty? But for the genius, as for the dullest brain, there is only one path to peace and power and safety, and that is to walk in God’s commandment, and strive to be obedient to His will.’

(2) ‘The prophet turned from the stir and throng of Bethel to the solitude of the road that led to Judah, and it was then, in the very flush of victory, that he was tempted again, and yielded to temptation. Many an army has been put to flight in the hours that followed on some great success. They became careless—they grew secure and easy—and all unexpectedly they were assailed again. And as it is with armies, so with men. It is a glad and a good thing to be victorious. But the season that follows on a moral victory is often a season that is big with danger. That is what Paul means when, writing to the Ephesians, he bids them “having done all, to stand.” This prophet had “done all” that God had laid on him, yet having done it all, he failed to stand. There is danger when the breaker lifts its head and with a wild thunder dashes on the shore, but not less dangerous is its retreat, as it moves back again into the deeps.’

(3) ‘The vital importance of this prophet’s work is to be found not only in his message, but in the fact that he was called to utter it when the kingdom of the north was in its infancy. Now in such circumstances would you not have thought that the name of the prophet would have been written large? Would you not have expected it upon the page of scripture, so to be held in perpetual remembrance? Instead of that we do not know his name, nor his home, nor his father or his mother—he is just “a man of God out of Judah.” Do you remember what Milton calls the desire for fame? He calls it “the last infirmity of noble minds.” Some of the greatest things the world has known have been done by men whose names are in oblivion.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:20". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-kings-13.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 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.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-13.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

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.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-13.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20.The word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back — So God may often speak through a wicked prophet. So he did through Balaam, uttering the sublimest oracles of blessing, though that soothsayer would fain have cursed Israel. He made even the dumb ass speak with man’s voice, and rebuke the madness of the prophet. The attempt of Dr. Kennicott, to make the latter part of this verse mean the prophet whom he had brought back, is uncalled for, and precluded by the unmistakable meaning of the same words in 1 Kings 13:26. On the faulty translation of the words in 1 Kings 13:23 see note there.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-13.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Table. After this the Masorets place a piska, or circle, to denote some omission, which the Syriac version alone supplies; "and did eat." (Kennicott) --- Back. Some translate, "whom he had brought back." (Junius; Syriac, &c.) --- This would destroy the principal proof of those who esteem the man of Bethel to have been a true prophet. (Calmet) --- Protestants agree with us; and the context seems to assert, that God addressed his servant by another's mouth. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-13.html. 1859.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(20) The word of the Lord came.—It is, perhaps, the most terrible feature in the history that the Divine sentence is spoken—no doubt, as in the case of Balaam, unwillingly—through the very lips which by falsehood had lured the prophet of Judah from the right path, and at the very table of treacherous hospitality. Josephus, with his perverse tendency to explain away all that seems startling, misses this point entirely, and assigns the revelation to the prophet of Judah himself. Striking as this incident is, it is perhaps a symbol of a general law constantly exemplifying itself, that the voice of worldly wisdom first beguiles the servants of God to disobedience by false glosses on their duty to Him, and then proclaims unsparingly their sin and its just punishment.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-kings-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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:
the word of the Lord
"A great clamour," says Dr. Kennicott, "has been raised against this part of history, on account of God's denouncing sentence on the true prophet by the mouth of the false prophet; but if we examine with attention the original words here, they will be found to signify either he who brought him back, or, whom he had brought back; for the very same words, asher heshivo, occur again, ver. 23, where they are now translated, whom he had brought back; and where they cannot be translated otherwise. This being the case, we are at liberty to consider the words of the Lord as delivered to the true prophet, thus brought back; and then the sentence is pronounced by God himself, calling to him out of heaven, as in Ge 22:11. And that this doom was thus pronounced by God, not by the false prophet, we are assured in ver. 26. 'The Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, according to the word of the Lord, which He spake unto him.' Josephus [and also the Arabic] asserts, that the sentence was declared by God to the true prophet."
Numbers 23:5,16; 24:4,16-24; Matthew 7:22; John 11:51; 1 Corinthians 13:2
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 13:11 - an old prophet;  1 Kings 14:6 - for I am;  Jeremiah 1:2 - the word

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-13.html.