But the man of God answered the king, "Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For I was commanded by the word of the LORD: 'You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.'" (NIV)
I used to be perplexed by this account in the Bible. A man of God goes to Bethel to pronounce judgment on the altar that the Israelites were wrongly using for worship. The King yells for his soldiers to seize the man of God, but his arm is paralyzed. The man of God heals the king, who then invites him back to his palace to reward him. But the man of God refuses, as we read in the scripture above, and begins his journey home.
Now comes the perplexing part. Another man of God, a prophet, comes after the first one, and impels him to come to his house to eat. When the man of God from Judah protests, the prophet lies to him, saying God told him it was okay for the man of God to come to his house. So, he did. Then on his way back to Judah, a lion kills him for disobeying God. That did not seem fair to me.
But God showed me the lesson we all need to learn. God requires our complete obedience to Him. Instead of blindly following the prophet, the man of God should have prayed. He should have asked God to confirm that He had indeed changed His mind. We need to obey God only.
Others in the Bible made the same mistake. When Eve was tempted in the Garden of Eden, she believed the serpent's lies over God's truth. King Saul decided not to destroy all the Amalekites and their animals, as God had instructed him, but kept the best animals to sacrifice. When Samuel asked him why he had not obeyed God, Saul insisted that he had. But he had obeyed only part of God's command.
As a result of disobedience Eve lost her perfect home, King Saul lost his kingdom, and the man of God lost his life. Complete obedience is very important to God. It should be just as important to us.