Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 13:24

Now when he had gone, a lion met him on the way and killed him, and his body was thrown on the road, with the donkey standing beside it; the lion also was standing beside the body.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Judgments;   Lion;   Minister, Christian;   Prophecy;   Scofield Reference Index - Miracles;   Thompson Chain Reference - Animals;   Lions;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Dead, the;   Highways;   Lion, the;   Offence;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Iddo;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Jonah, Theology of;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Hunting;   Lions;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Burial;   Lion;   Miracles;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Bethel;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jadon;   Lion;   Palestine;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bethel ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Lion;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Ass;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ass;   Lion;   Old Prophet, the;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

A lion met him - and slew him - By permitting himself to be seduced by the old prophet, when he should have acted only on the expressly declared counsel of God, he committed the sin unto death; that is, such a sin as God will punish with the death of the body, while he extends mercy to the soul. See my notes on 1 John 5:16; (note), 1 John 5:17; (note).

From the instance here related, we see, as in various other cases, that often judgment begins at the house of God. The true prophet, for receiving that as a revelation from God which was opposed to the revelation which himself had received, and which was confirmed by so many miracles, is slain by a lion, and his body deprived of the burial of his fathers; while the wicked king, and the old fallen prophet, are both permitted to live! If this was severity to the man of God, it was mercy to the others, neither of whom was prepared to meet his judge. Here we may well say, "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-13.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Kings 13:24

And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him.

A sharp punishment accords

But, surely, to be slain by a lion on the way home was a much too sharp punishment for taking one’s supper with a prophet and an angel; uneasy conscience and all. But then, “some sins,” says that noble piece, the Westminster Larger Catechism, “receive their aggravation from the persons offending; if they be of riper age, greater experience in grace, eminent for profession, gifts, place, office, and as such are guides to others, and whose example is likely to be followed by others.” The very case, to the letter, of the man of God out of Judah. The sublimity of his public services that morning had henceforth set up a corresponding standard for his private life. And this is one of our best compensations for preaching the grace of God and the law of Christ. Our office quickens our conscience; it makes the law cut deeper and deeper into us every day; and it compels us to a public and private life we would otherwise have escaped. Preaching recoils with terrible strokes on the preacher. It curtails his liberty in a most tyrannous way; it tracks him through all his life in a most remorseless manner. Think it out well, and count the cost before you become minister, or an elder, or a Sabbath School teacher, or a young communicant. Yes, it was surely a little sin, if ever there was a little sin, to sup that Sabbath night at an old prophet’s table, and that, too, on the invitation of an angel (A. Whyte, D. D.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Kings 13:24". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-kings-13.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him,.... Perhaps not far from Bethel; and this lion might come out of the same wood the she bears did, that devoured the children that mocked the prophet, as Bishop Patrick conjectures, 2 Kings 2:23.

and his carcass was cast in the way; in the high road, where it seems the lion seized him, and he fell:

and the ass stood by it; disregarded and unhurt by the lion, though the prophet was pulled off of the back of him:

the lion also stood by the carcass: not offering to tear it in pieces and devour it, but rather, as if he was the guard of it, to keep off all others from meddling with it; these circumstances are very surprising, and show the thing to be of God; for when the lion had done what he had a commission to do, which was to kill the prophet, he was to do no more.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-13.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And when he was gone, k 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.

(k) By this fearful example, God sets forth how dangerous it is for men to behave coldly, or deceitfully in the charge to which God has called them.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-kings-13.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

a lion met him by the way, and slew him — There was a wood near Beth-el infested with lions (2 Kings 2:24). This sad catastrophe was a severe but necessary judgment of God, to attest the truth of the message with which the prophet had been charged. All the circumstances of this tragic occurrence (the undevoured carcass, the untouched ass, the passengers unmolested by the lion, though standing there) were calculated to produce an irresistible impression that the hand of God was in it.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-kings-13.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Slew him — "But why doth God punish a good man so severely for so small an offence?" His sin was not small, for it was a gross disobedience to a positive command. And it cannot seem strange if God should bring his deserved death upon him in this manner, for the accomplishment of his own glorious designs, to vindicate his own justice from the imputation of partiality; to assure the truth of his predictions, and thereby provoke Jeroboam and his idolatrous followers to repentance; and to justify himself in all his dreadful judgments which he intended to inflict upon Jeroboam's house, and the whole kingdom of Israel.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-kings-13.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 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, [Romans 12:9] and fear Almighty God - as those mongrels did [2 Kings 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 1 Peter 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.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-13.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 13:24. A lion met him by the way, and slew him There was a wood not far from Beth-el, out of which the two she-bears came, mentioned 2 Kings 2:24; and it is not unlikely that out of the same wood came the lion which slew this prophet. We have in this narrative a cluster of miracles: the lion, contrary to his nature, neither eats the carcase, tears the ass, meddles with the travellers who pass by, nor hurts the old prophet and his ass. Nor is this all: the ass, on which the man of God rode, remains quietly, without seeming to regard the lion, which stands to watch the body till this strange account is carried into the city, and the old prophet arrives at the spot. All this was, doubtless, done to convince the people, that the man of God was not slain by accident, but that the lion had been directed by a supernatural power. See AElian's Var. Hist. l. vi. c. 5. Some have thought that this prophet's offence was a small one to have met with so severe a punishment; but the true state of the case is this: the prophet from Judah had sufficient evidence of the truth of his own revelation; had sufficient cause to suspect some corrupt ends in the prophet who came to recal him; and had sufficient reason to expect an interposition of the same power that gave him the injunction to repeal it; and therefore his crime was an easy credulity, a complying with an offer merely to gratify a petulant appetite, which he knew was repugnant to a divine command. It argued a great levity, if not infidelity of his own revelation, to listen to the pretended one of another man. The lesson we are to learn from God's severity in this instance is, not to suffer our faith to be perverted by any suggestions made against a revelation of uncontested divine authority. See Galatians 1:8-9. Scheuchzer, and Stillingfleet's Origines Sacrae.

REFLECTIONS.—Nothing could be more noble than the prophet's behaviour before the king; and one cannot but grieve to see him afterwards thus deluded and slain.

1. The instrument of his fall is called an old prophet, originally of Samaria, but now of Beth-el; whose dubious character makes it difficult to determine, whether he were a good or bad man. He is called a prophet; was favoured with revelations; did not attend the idolatrous worship; believed and confirmed the word of God against the altar at Beth-el; buries the prophet in his tomb; and desires to lie by his side. On the other hand, his abode in Beth-el; his permitting his sons to attend the altar; and, especially, the base deceit here put upon so good a man, would rather induce one to think, that, like Balaam, though speaking some truth, he was false and faithless. Having heard by his sons what had passed, he follows the prophet, and invites him to take some refreshment. The prophet pleads his express prohibition, but this he pretends to over-rule by a later revelation made to him, who boasts himself a prophet also, enjoining him to bring his brother back. Deceived by this pretence, the good prophet complies, and suffers for it. Note; (1.) False prophets are the most fatal enemies of God's people. (2.) They who seek to draw us aside from God's revealed will, however plausible their pretexts, are the emissaries of hell. (3.) We may be seduced to do evil by appearances of piety, when we should not be driven into it by any fears of suffering.

2. The doom denounced on the disobedient prophet. The instrument of his delusion is made the messenger of his destruction. He upbraids him with his transgression, in returning contrary to his orders, and foretels his sudden and approaching death. If we enquire into so strange a transaction, we are lost. But we know that God is just in all his ways; the deceived and the deceiver are his; and we must wait till a judgment-day shall clear up every mysterious providence, and make his righteousness clear as the noon-day.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-kings-13.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

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 13:21,22, 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".

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-13.html. 1685.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Killed him. Thus the Lord often punishes his servants here, that he may spare them hereafter. For the generality of divines[theologians] are of opinion, that the sin of this prophet, considered with all its circumstances, was not mortal. (Challoner) --- He had received a positive order, and ought to have tried spirits, whether they were from God, 1 John iv. 1., and Galatians vi. 18. Every prophecy which contradicts the word of God, comes from an evil principle. (Calmet) --- The prophet might suppose, however, that some cause had intervened, which authorized him to eat with this his brother, (ver. 30.) whom he probably revered as a true prophet. Many of God's commands are conditional. (Haydock) --- Serenus observes, that God often inflicts death for the smallest faults. (Cassian vii. 26.) (St. Gregory, Dial. iv. 24.) --- St. Augustine (cura, c. 7.) doubts not of the prophet's salvation. --- Body, without even hurting the ass, ver. 28. (Haydock) --- God protected the relics of his servant, by stationing the lion for a guard. (Procopius) (Menochius) --- How impenetrable are the counsels of God! He suffers Jeroboam, and the prophet who had seduced his servant, to live; while he punishes the latter for a fault which he had committed undesignedly. But he thus purified him from guilt, (Calmet) while he reserved Jeroboam for more lasting torments in another world. (Haydock) --- Nothing could prove more forcibly the existence of future rewards and punishments. (Calmet) --- Not only the deceiver, but he also who is deceived, so as to transgress God's orders, must be punished. (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-13.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

a lion. For lions in Palestine see Judges 14:5. 1 Samuel 17:34. 2 Samuel 23:20. 2 Samuel 20:36.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-kings-13.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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. A lion met him by the way, and slew him. There was a wood near Beth-el infested with lions (2 Kings 2:24). This sad catastrophe was a severe but necessary judgment of God, to attest the truth of the message with which the prophet had been charged. The whole circumstances of this tragic occurrence-the undevoured carcass, the untouched donkey, the passengers unmolested by the lion though standing there-were calculated to produce an irresistible impression that the hand of God was in it.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-kings-13.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(24) A lion.—The lion is noticed in the Old Testament not unfrequently, especially in Southern Palestine: at Timnath (Judges 14:5); near Bethlehem (1 Samuel 17:34); at Kabzeel, in Judah (2 Samuel 23:20); near Aphek (1 Kings 20:36); in the thickets and forests of the Jordan valley (Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 5:6), &c. The lion of Palestine is probably of the variety still constantly found in the neighbourhood of Babylon; and the prevalence of lions is shown by the occurrence of such names as Lebaoth, or Bethlebaoth, “the house of lions” (see Joshua 15:32), and by the many names for the lion used in Scripture, as, for example, in Job 4:10-11. Now that the forests have disappeared from Palestine the lions have disappeared with them.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-kings-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
a lion
20:36; 2 Kings 2:24; Proverbs 22:13; 26:13; Amos 5:19; 1 Corinthians 11:31,32; 1 Peter 4:17,18
Reciprocal: Genesis 37:20 - Some;  Genesis 37:33 - evil beast;  Exodus 4:24 - sought;  Numbers 22:33 - surely;  1 Kings 12:31 - an house;  2 Kings 17:25 - the Lord sent;  Proverbs 11:31 - GeneralIsaiah 38:13 - as a lion

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 13:24". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-13.html.