1 Kings 13.11-32

Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel. And his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words also which he had spoken to the King, they told their father. And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?”

And his sons showed him the way which the man of God from Judah had gone.

And he said to his sons, “Saddle the ass for me.”

So they saddled the ass for him and he mounted it. And he went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak; and he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah.

And he said, “I am.”

Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.”

And he said, “I may not return with you, or go in with you; neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place, for it was said to me by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.'”

And he said to him, “I am also a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.'” But he lied to him.

So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water.

And as they sat at the table, the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; and he cried to the man who had come from Judah, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, but have come back, and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no beard, and drink no water”; your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'” And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the ass for the prophet he had brought back.

And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the ass stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body.

And behold, men passed by, and saw the body thrown in the road, and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.

And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and slain him, according to the word which the Lord spoke to him. And he said to his sons, “Saddle the ass for me.”

And they saddled it.

And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the ass and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body, or torn the ass.

And the prophet took up the body of the man of God and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back to the city, to mourn and to bury him. And he laid the body in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!”

And after he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 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.”

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3 responses

  1. Okay! This one! This one! This one! This is the story that gets me. I can hardly take this particular story as a macro-political story. I’m tempted to invent macro-political factors to explain this. Please, make some up! I feel like this story funnels me into some sort of personal, side-bar narrative of, what? Personal moralizing? Personal obedience? Follow instructions? Even if I read this story as a case illustration of antagonisms between north and south (death for mixing with enemies!), I feel like I’m taking a feather up against a titanium tank! And the titanium tank is driving me back to some sort of personal focus. Maybe I need that. And need to pay attention. Even when I do, I feel almost blind to larger macro-political stuff here. Make something up! ~ Jim ~ Jim.

  2. Well, we just had the political side of it in the previous bit of 'Kings'. The Jerusalem cult doesn't like it that Israel has rejected their dynasty and set up a religious establishment outside their monopoly, ho hum. But the guy they send does have a legitimate complaint: What Jeroboam is setting up is a state religion, which in the nature of such things will turn idolatrous.So, here the home team scores one against the visitor. But the local prophet is not at all happy about it; he has recognized, too late, that his southern colleague was his brother and deserved better.God is not really "with" either party in the conflict. But is concerned with his reputation… like when I was student-teaching, long ago, with a student who treated me contemptuously, I was told: "You may not care whether he respects you, but you can't do him any good unless he does."One prophet can "fool" another– so long as that prophet is functioning on a human/human level: "He's another prophet and I should listen to him" distracts the man from the voice of God he needed to be attending.Tricked into violating his own integrity, the prophet from Jerusalem finds no way to repent and correct his mistake. He accepts the consequences and falls to the lion. But the local prophet has misused his own gift, and knows it. So they are buried together.—The prophetic consciousness is a state of listening to God. What information flows in that conversation… may be more or less, may be better understood or less understood. That consciousness is available to anyone, but doesn't necessarily make anyone 'A Prophet' or provide him/her with An Important Message To Deliver.The prophet's human personality and agendas can trip him up. But seems to be an essential ingredient: We have here, after all, two prophets, caught up together in this dysfunctional interaction. Not just one, centralized Message, but two people responding from different vantages. & both of them get clobbered by Something Bigger than they'd realized.—Personal focus?– This story seems to imply that we live on a metaphoric tightrope. ~"Stay on that line or you'll fall off and a lion will get you!" "What," we're likely to think, "will happen to me if I miss my cue?""Shuttup and keep paying attention!"This is not some spiritual tyrant we need to "obey"; it is our Guide continually available.

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