We read of the “Sons of the prophets” in 1st Kings 20:35; 2nd Kings 2:3, 5, 7, 15; 4:1, 38; 5:22; 6:1; 9:1; Amos 3:25 and Acts 3:25. In short, the “sons of the prophets” were, as another has said, “young men with prophetic gifts who met together to learn from elder prophets” (from What the Bible Teaches on 1st Kings). A good example of this would be Elijah and Elisha, for Elijah was Elisha’s MENTOR and thus his MASTER, as we learn from 2nd Kings 2:3 which reads, “Now the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, ‘Do you know that the LORD will take away your MASTER from over you today?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I know; keep silent!’” So, the “sons of the prophets” were “prophets in training.”

This does NOT mean that a “son of the prophets” could not use his prophetic gift while he was still learning from the elder prophets. The first mention of a son of the prophet makes this perfectly clear. Let’s read this interesting account found in 1st Kings 20:35-43:

“Now a certain MAN OF THE SONS OF THE PROPHETS said to another by the word of the LORD, ‘Please strike me.’ But the man refused to strike him. Then he said to him, ‘Because you have not listened to the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as you have departed from me, a lion will kill you.’ And as soon as he had departed from him a lion found him and killed him. Then he found another man and said, ‘Please strike me.’ And the man struck him, wounding him.” (Verses 35-37). We will stop there for a moment of reflection.  We see there that the Lord had given this young prophet a message and that he faithfully obeyed the Lord’s command. Yet we see that his message involved another young prophet who refused to obey the message and he was killed by a lion for his disobedience. How solemn! It shows to us, does it not, the importance of “obeying God’s word.” The one obeyed by “giving out the Word” and the other disobeyed by “refusing to strike his fellow-prophet.” It is good to read that the next young prophet who was told to “strike his fellow-prophet” obeyed. Now let’s read verses 38-43:

“So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes. As the king passed by, he cried to the king and said, ‘Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and behold, a man turned aside and brought a man to me and said, “Guard this man; if for any reason he is missing, then your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.” While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.’ And the king of Israel said to him, ‘So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.’ Then he hastily took the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him that HE WAS OF THE PROPHETS. He said to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.’ So the king of Israel went to his house sullen and vexed, and came to Samaria.” We see in this account that the Lord had given the young prophet a very weighty task. He was to go to King Ahab who had disobeyed the Lord by refusing to kill a man that God had condemned to death. Ahab had let the man live (Ben-Hadad, the King of Syria…see verses 31-34). The story he told the king was from the Lord and it was meant to condemn the king for his disobedience, for the judgment that Ahab gave to what he thought was a “wounded soldier” turned out to be God’s judgment against him! This surely reminds us of another story told by a prophet to a king that had the same self-condemning message of judgment (see Nathan and David in 2nd Samuel 12:1-7).

In closing, we can apply this lesson today to those who are “gifted young men in the church.” They are “still learning God’s Word from older men” yet they too have the awesome responsibility of “giving out God’s Word when called upon to do so.” The great apostle Paul was young Timothy’s MENTOR and yet he told him him (in 1st Timothy 4:14 and 2nd Timothy 1:6), “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you…. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you.” When I was very young in the faith an older brother in the Lord often told me the very same thing and he would always add, “If you don’t USE IT, you may LOSE IT.” By that he meant if we don’t develop the gift the Lord has given us, we may not be able to use it at all.  (481.5)  (DO)