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The Lives of the Prophets - More Examples of Their Waywardness

The lives of the prophets, in many cases, included some rather questionable practices. This is part 5 of an examination of the mistakes of the prophets. Go back to part 4.


While not called a prophet in scripture, Samson was classed among the judges and there are a number of incidents where it is said that "the Spirit of the LORD came upon him" (Jud 14:6, 14:19, 15:14). He was a Nazarite (Jud 13:5) and was given the task by God of delivering Israel from the Philistines. Finally, he was listed among the heroes of faith (Heb 11:32). There were many incidents in his life that would not be considered to be consistent with the lives of the prophets - at least not with what they should have been - yet God used him mightily.

Eating unclean food, and giving it to his family

"And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion." (Jud 14:8-9)

This honey would have been unclean having been taken from a carcass.

"Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty." (Lev 5:2)
See also Lev 11:35.

Having sex with a harlot

"Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her." (Jud 16:1)


"And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man." (Jud 16:7)
"And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man." (Jud 16:11)
"And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web." (Jud 16:13)

Prejudiced by appearances

It appears that Samuel was influenced by outward appearance and favored Jesse's oldest son based on that:

"And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD'S anointed is before him." (1 Sam 16:6)

However, the counsel was soon given:

"But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." (1 Sam 16:7)

The same counsel is given elsewhere in scripture:

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24)
"But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors." (James 2:9)

This is obviously a Biblical principle that Samuel did not follow.


Saul was a true prophet at one point:

"And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets? And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets? And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place." (1 Sam 10:9-13)

Consulting the witch of Endor

Saul purposely attempted to consult with the dead which is forbidden in scripture.

"Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor." (1 Sam 28:7)


"And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul." (1 Sam 28:12)

Adultery, polygamy and going after strange/foreign women

"But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart." (1 Kings 11:1-3)

The results of this course are described in the Proverbs which, ironically, may have been written by Solomon:

"Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things." (Pro 23:33)

Idolatry and evil doing

"For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father." (1 Kings 11:4-6)
Unnamed Man of God and Old Prophet

Lying, deception and disobedience to God's instructions

The unnamed "man of God" was a prophet (verses 1,5-6) who gave a message for God and received exact instructions from Him. Unfortunately, for him, he took the counsel of someone else ahead of the word of God. The second prophet in the story ("an old prophet" v 11) also received instruction directly from God:

"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:" (1 Kings 13:20)

And this was spoken to him shortly after the record says that he had lied:

"He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him." (1 Kings 13:18)

Because of the disobedience of the man of God (the younger prophet), God delivered him to (removed His protection from) the lion and he was killed by it.


We have considered the topic of conditional prophecy elsewhere on this site. Is it possible that there are also conditional prophets? That is, people whom God used as prophets when they were aligned with His will and that He set aside when they were not and then perhaps used them in a prophetic role again? It appears so (especially in the case of David), and some were even used in spite of their sins and reluctance to speak for God.

While we need to listen to the prophets we need to recognize that they are not God. Everything they say needs to be in accord with the word of God as a whole. Our real example is Jesus Himself who, while He was much more than a prophet, was also called by that term:

"And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:" (Luke 24:19)

One thing we can see from this is that God is eager to use whatever means He can to reach people. Indeed, He went so far as to send the ultimate prophet, His only begotten Son - who did prove to be always worthy of the prophetic calling. His life and words are our ultimate example, not the lives of the prophets who yielded to their passions as we do (although we can learn much from them).

This examination of the lives of the prophets and their sins gives us an idea of what God permits His prophets to do, and yet be considered true prophets. God is trying to reach His people in any way He can.

Speaking of permission, the apostle Paul had to address the early church on matters touching marriage and divorce, and he did not fail to share his own opinion on the matter. He clearly stated:
"But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment." (1 Cor. 7:6).
It seems God allowed Paul (and likely other prophets) to speak for themselves also and why wouldn't He? God is big on freedom of speech and freedom of every kind.  

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