A man of God came unto Samaria
Under strict orders received in Judah,
a judment to be given to the king,
to warn him of his ways, his backsliding.
The LORD’s command was explicit to him,
declare his word then come back running in
no explanation God has to offer,
all he has to do, stand and deliver.
So he went to Jeroboam’s altar,
there he found him, right beside the stone
the incense, he is about to offer
the people ready to worship that morn.
but before the king has done anything
a shrill cry broke the silence that morning,
the man of God pronounced Yahweh’s judgment
O altar, altar, hear thy banishment.
Josiah, David’s heir on Judah’s throne
will tear you down and pour out your ashes,
your priests and servants on it will be burned,
with bones of humans kept long in stashes.
now this oracle will surely come true
because a sign will be given to you
this altar will now be ripped apart, torn
ashes spilt, and will be left quite forlorn.
the king was enraged on hearing the words
he charged the army to take up their swords
protect their king and arrest the nuisance,
for causing this uncalled for disturbance.
but as he raised his arm it shriveled dry
his limb unable to move to nor fro
so the monarch froze shocked, can’t help but cry
o prophet pray for me, i need it so.
the prophet gripped by mercy and pity
prayed to the Lord for the king to be whole,
and at once the shriveled hand broke free
from rigidness to its functional role.
so glad and merry the king invited
the young prophet home to be rewarded
but lo he was definitely refused
for the prophet warned it to be obtuse.
he said, o king, though half-kingdom you grant
I would not stay here another moment
for you see I was sent on this errand
and expected that orders be not bent.
i need to leave and pass another way
i was ordered not to take food nor drink
but go immediately and not delay
and breaking them i dare not even think
And so the prophet left the king stunned
and trod another pathway homeward bound
the people watched as this stranger passed by
sent by the LORD there, but they don’t know why.
Another prophet lived in Ephraim
told by his sons about the morn’s duel
a young prophet, they said, spoke to the king
denounced his ways, the altar at Bethel.
The old prophet asked, to where did he go?
On that road, they said, pointing where he passed
Saddle the donkey, I need to follow
the sons obeyed, though they felt they were rushed.
The old man found the Judean prophet
sitting under an oak tree, their eyes met
Are you the man of God who smote the king?
Yes I am, he said without much thinking.
Then come home with me eat and be refreshed
for you look tired and certainly famished
from this morning’s job you executed
you need food and drink, that is expected.
Oh no, I have to decline such kindness
the Lord sent me to go and not delay
avoid food and drink though sounds like madness
and its for his sake that I must obey
The older man said, like you I am sent
a prophet to deliver God’s intent
an angel told me to bring you back home
serve you bread and water, before you roam.
Without further ado, the prophet stood
followed the old man back to his abode
he never realized he was deceived
God does change after all, his mind believed.
All of a sudden, while eating the food
the old prophet with eyes ablaze he stood
he just received a message from the Lord
and he can’t help but deliver God’s word.
He said, stiff-necked prophet you stand condemned,
you did not follow, orders you did bend
why did you eat and drink, which I forbid
am I insufficient to meet such need?
therefore you shall die and will be buried
not in your clan’s graveyard, and quite hurried
you will die in shame, and in much disgrace
surely this will come true, such is the case.
After they dined the young man bade goodbye
he tucked his clothes in and went on his way
never thought that on that day he would die
doubting the old man to his own dismay.
So on he went along the trodden path
never seen the lion that poured its wrath
when its fierce paw hit and caught him offguard
it cost him his life as he fell downward.
The lion stood guard beside the dead man
bothering the donkey was not the plan
it just made sure that no one disturbs him
lying dead on the road in Ephraim.
some men passed by and saw the dead body
isn’t that the prophet, they asked shockingly
how come he’s here and is dead already?
saw him used by God, what an anom’ly
they spread the word and soon the whole town knows
what befell the prophet in the meadows
killed by the lion, lying on the ground
no one has moved him yet for fears abound
when the older prophet heard what happened
to the younger one, once more he’s burdened
a young life’s lost for disobedience
what happened to him, the Lord’s ordinance.
so he saddled his donkey hurriedly
went to the place of this monstrosity
hoped against all odds to find the body
the lion, he prayed, not to go hungry.
and there behold, he saw the young man slain
beside his donkey and the lion’s mane
both just stood still, both understood their plight
to watch the body and keep it in sight
then the old man picked up the lifeless form
his face unkempt as if strucked by fierce storm
this young man, he thought, should have been alive
only if his will and the Lord’s had jived
So he headed back, taking home the dead
though disobedient to what God has said
for proper burial, and honor to give
he’s still God’s servant and thus, the reprieve.
He told his sons, when I die bury me
beside his bones, this man of infamy
for all he has said will surely come true
God’s wrath is coming, don’t you doubt it, too.
That altar in Bethel as well as Dan
will be torn to pieces, not one will stand
for God has decreed the sure coming wrath
no one can stop it, nor stay in its path.
Meanwhile back in the palace, lies the king
once restored, forgot about everything
he remained in sin, in his evil ways,
which caused the shortening of Israel’s days.
As we look back at this account we’ll see
that disobedience has a price, not free
and that it comes in two forms, and both count
only as one, this truth paramount.
First is that of king Jeroboam’s sin
a direct rebellion, a disregard
of his God, rejecting as only King
he led Ephraim to its slide downward.
He violated the first three commands
given to Moses, in the desert lands
A direct assault against the Lord’s face
he brought him nothing but only disgrace.
Because of his desire to be stable
as king of the North, he has enabled
priests to build two rival worship centers
so that the people’s needs will be catered.
No more need to go down South, he argued
Cause our two bulls here are also as good
to offer sacrifices, incenses
instead of one, we have two good places!
The truth however is that he had fear
his people holding Jerusalem dear
so instead of exposing them down South
he must provide, an alternative route.
And so even though he was forbidden
to build images the Lord detested
His mind was made up, already headed
to disobey and to be forsaken.
He ordered the construction of altars
before its too late, people straying far,
to allow for them an alternative
no matter the cost, even repulsive.
Jeroboam stood condemned a long time,
evil and wicked men reigned in his line;
from generation to generation,
each one rejected Yahweh’s redemption.
That is the price, the cost he has to pay
For deserting God and choosing his way
A kingdom lost, a heritage of sin
He will be remembered, curse to his kin.
There’s another form of disobedience
So subtle, indeed, comes from negligence
of failure to comply, giving up fast
healf-hearted obedience, it doesn’t last.
That’s what befell the infamous prophet
thinking that God’s command can be thwarted
change of plans was readily considered
when discomfort came, convictions wavered.
When confronted by a contradiction
he shouldve sought the Lord’s verification
he was a true prophet, too, was he not?
Because of extreme fatigue he forgot.
Surely in our minds, it doesn’t make much sense
killing the prophet for disobedience
can he not eat some food and take some rest?
Mission is accomplished: he passed the test.
However we look at it, analyze
the fault is his, that’s all we can surmise
had he taken the Lord’s word seriously
he wouldn’t be sitting under that tree.
For stopping would open a lot of way
to be distracted, to be led astray
so the Lord was insistent he hurry
to go back in haste to his own country.
Another bump we see in this story
is the great reversal, an irony
the king, though wicked, was healed, forgiven
while the prophet, the Lord’s servant, was slain.
I leave that paradox to your musings
as to why the Lord used diff’rent dealings
for that describes his righteous character
that we are all entitled to wonder.
Today my hope is that we all have learned
that half obeying is not in the plan
For the Lord desires full pledge allegiance
no space left even for small dissonance.
The message given to you this morning
is provocative and stimulating;
it’s meant to jog your mind and shift your feet
for here comes the prophet, also poet.