35 By the word of the Lord one of the company of the prophets said to his companion, “Strike me with your weapon,” but he refused.
36 So the prophet said, “Because you have not obeyed the Lord, as soon as you leave me a lion will kill you.” And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him.
37 The prophet found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” So the man struck him and wounded him. 38 Then the prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king. He disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes.
1 Kings 20:35-38
This prophet is thought to be one of the 7,000 – the remnant of believers – in Israel who remained faithful to Yahweh. The prophet needed to look as if he had been attacked and injured so he could confront King Ahab directly. Because it was the word of the Lord and his companion knowing this yet still refused, he received a death sentence: Because you have not obeyed the Lord, as soon as you leave me a lion will kill you. And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him. Sometimes the judgment of the Lord is immediate or nearly immediate as in this case. Having seen what happened the next man to receive the request to strike the prophet did as requested So the man struck him and wounded him.
All of this so the prophet, disguised now with a headband down over his eyes, could confront King Ahab who had done great evil before the Lord.
39 As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, “Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and someone came to me with a captive and said, ‘Guard this man. If he is missing, it will be your life for his life, or you must pay a talent of silver.’ 40 While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.”
“That is your sentence,” the king of Israel said. “You have pronounced it yourself.”
1 Kings 20:39-40
It was then the prophet removed his disguise and told King Ahab he had just pronounce judgment upon himself.
41 Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 He said to the king, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’”
1 Kings 20:41-42
This is not the first time God had used a prophet to trap a king into condemning his own behavior. God used the prophet Nathan to have David condemn his own behavior when he had taken Uriah the Hittite’s wife Bathsheba as his own, then sent Uriah to certain death in battle. This is how is played out in 2 Samuel 12
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in His eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
2 Samuel 12:7-10
Bottom line: God knows and when the time for punishment comes, He wants those punished to know why they are being punished. And if He wants our help to make this happen, we should obey immediately.