Choices of a Prophet vs. King

Life is full of choices. Whether we are conscientious of them or not, we make decisions that impact not only ourselves, but others around us on a daily basis. In the midst of all of these choices, how do we know what is the right decision? Well, I will share two very specific examples from the Bible.

After Israel and Judah split, Jeroboam was the first king of Israel after the division of the kingdom, and he was evil in the sight of God because he made false idols and a false altar for the people to worship. In response, God sent an unnamed messenger from Judah to tell King Jeroboam of a prophecy: a boy named Josiah, a descendant of David, would burn the bones of the high priests and worshipers of the false gods on the false altar. After a miracle, the king actually asked the prophet to stay and offered him a reward. Here is the response of the unnamed prophet:

And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.’” So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel. | 1 Kings 13:8-10

The prophet was given straight-forward instructions from God, and all he had to do was obey the order. Easy right? Well, there was another unnamed older prophet from Samaria who found the prophet from Judah and asked him to come to the older prophet’s home and eat. Well, the younger prophet repeated God’s instructions to the older prophet. Here’s where the situation gets really complicated… Without skipping a beat, the older prophet replies:

And he said to him, “I also am 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. | 1 Kings 13:18

Want to take a wild guess about what happens next? Well, the prophet from Judah believes the indirect command which was in reality a lie, disobeys God’s direct commands, and dies as a consequence. What is the takeaway from this example? ALWAYS obey God’s Word over all others. No matter how great or spiritual your friends, family, or even elders are, you should never follow advice that opposes God’s instructions.

I want to mention another example. Let’s fast forward a few hundreds of years to King Josiah that the unnamed prophet had spoken of in his prophecy. When Josiah began his reign, he actually did what was right, read God’s Word, and obeyed it! He even went so far as to make a covenant in front of all of the people that he would walk after the Lord and follow His commands. Look at the legacy King Josiah left behind:

Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. | 2 Kings 23:25

That’s incredible! What a testimony King Josiah had! Thousands of years later, and it still encourages and inspires us even today. Now if you feel incredibly intimidated by the prospect of reading and studying God’s Word, or if you feel like what you are reading is way over your head take comfort in this:

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. | 1 Corinthians 2:12-13

We have a huge advantage that neither the unnamed prophet nor King Josiah had! We have the Holy Spirit within us who reveals God’s truth and guides us along this short journey on earth. God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will never leave you, fail you, or deceive you. Believe me when I say that I fail constantly by disobeying or making decisions based on my own wisdom, but God is so gracious and forgiving. Repent, get out of whatever pothole or ditch you have fallen into, and seek the Lord’s guidance! He will never steer you wrong.

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