Verses 19–21

Elisha was named last in the orders God gave to Elijah, but he was first called, for by him the other two were to be called. He must come in Elijah’s room; yet Elijah is forward to raise him, and is far from being jealous of his successor, but rejoices to think that he shall leave the work of God in such good hands. Concerning the call of Elisha observe, 1. That it was an unexpected surprising call. Elijah found him by divine direction, or perhaps he was before acquainted with him and knew where to find him. He found him, not in the schools of the prophets, but in the field, not reading, nor praying, nor sacrificing, but ploughing, 1 Kgs. 19:19. Though a great man (as appears by his feast, 1 Kgs. 19:21), master of the ground, and oxen, and servants, yet he did not think it any disparagement to him to follow his business himself, and not only to inspect his servants, but himself to lay his hand to the plough. Idleness is no man’s honour, nor is husbandry any man’s disgrace. An honest calling in the world does not at all put us out of the way of our heavenly calling, any more than it did Elisha, who was taken from following the plough the feed Israel and to sow the seed of the word, as the apostles were taken from fishing to catch men. Elisha enquired not after Elijah, but was anticipated with this call. We love God, and choose him, because he chose us, and loved us, first. 2. That it was a powerful call. Elijah did but cast his mantle upon him. (1 Kgs. 19:19), in token of friendship, that he would take him under his care and tuition as he did under his mantle, and to be one with him in the same clothes, or in token of his being clothed with the spirit of Elijah (now he put some of his honour upon him, as Moses on Joshua, Num. 27:20); but, when Elijah went to heaven, he had the mantle entire, 2 Kgs. 2:13. And immediately he left the oxen to go as they would, and ran after Elijah, and assured him that he would follow him presently, 1 Kgs. 19:20. An invisible hand touched his heart, and unaccountably inclined him by a secret power, without any external persuasions, to quit his husbandry and give himself to the ministry. It is in a day of power that Christ’s subjects are made willing (Ps. 110:3), nor would any come to Christ unless they were thus drawn. Elisha came to a resolution presently, but begged a little time, not to ask leave, but only to take leave, of his parents. This was not an excuse for delay, like his (Luke 9:61) that desired he might bid those farewell that were at home, but only a reservation of the respect and duty he owed to his father and mother. Elijah bade him to back and do it, he would not hinder him; nay, if he would, he might go back, and not return, for any thing he had done to him. He will not force him, nor take him against his will; let him sit down and count the cost, and make it his own act. The efficacy of God’s grace preserves the native liberty of man’s will, so that those who are good are good of choice and not by constraint, not pressed men, but volunteers. 3. That it was a pleasant and acceptable call to him, which appears by the farewell-feast he made for his family (1 Kgs. 19:21), though he not only quitted all the comforts of his father’s house, but exposed himself to the malignity of Jezebel and her party. It was a discouraging time for prophets to set out in. A man that had consulted with flesh and blood would not be fond of Elijah’s mantle, nor willing to wear his coat; yet Elisha cheerfully, and with a great deal of satisfaction, leaves all to accompany him. Thus Matthew made a great fast when he left the receipt of custom to follow Christ. 4. That it was an effectual call. Elijah did not stay for him, lest he should seem to compel him, but left him to his own choice, and he soon arose, went after him, and not only associated with him, but ministered to him as his servitor, poured water on his hands, 2 Kgs. 3:11. It is of great advantage to young ministers to spend some time under the direction of those that are aged and experienced, whose years teach wisdom, and not to think much, if occasion be, to minister to them. Those that would be fit to teach must have time to learn; and those that hope hereafter to rise and rule must be willing at first to stoop and serve.