1 Kings 19
We left Elijah at the entrance of Jezreel, still appearing publicly,
and all the people's eyes upon him. In this chapter we have him again
absconding, and driven into obscurity, at a time when he could ill be
spared; but we are to look upon it as a punishment to Israel for the
insincerity and inconstancy of their reformation. When people will not
learn it is just with God to remove their teachers into corners. Now
I. How he was driven into banishment by the malice of Jezebel his sworn
1 Kings 19:1-3.
II. How he was met, in his banishment, by the favour of God, his
1. How God fed him,
1 Kings 19:4-8.
2. How he conversed with him, and manifested himself to him
(1 Kings 19:9,11-13),
heard his complaint
(1 Kings 19:10-14),
directed him what to do
(1 Kings 19:15-17),
and encouraged him,
1 Kings 19:18.
III. How his hands were strengthened, at his return out of banishment,
by the joining of Elisha with him,
1 Kings 19:19-21.
|Elijah's Flight from Jezebel.
||B. C. 906.|
1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal
how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the
gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the
life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and
came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his
4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and
came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for
himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD,
take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an
angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the
coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and
drink, and laid him down again.
7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and
touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is
too great for thee.
8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength
of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of
One would have expected, after such a public and sensible manifestation
of the glory of God and such a clear decision of the controversy
depending between him and Baal, to the honour of Elijah, the confusion
of Baal's prophets, and the universal satisfaction of the people--after
they had seen both fire and water come from heaven at the prayer of
Elijah, and both in mercy to them, the one as it signified the
acceptance of their offering, the other as it refreshed their
inheritance, which was weary--that now they would all, as one man,
return to the worship of the God of Israel and take Elijah for their
guide and oracle, that he would thenceforward be prime-minister of
state, and his directions would be as laws both to king and kingdom.
But it is quite otherwise; he is neglected whom God honoured; no
respect is paid to him, nor care taken of him, nor any use made of him,
but, on the contrary, the land of Israel, to which he had been, and
might have been, so great a blessing, is now made too hot for him.
1. Ahab incensed Jezebel against him. That queen-consort, it seems,
was in effect queen-regent, as she was afterwards when she was
queen-dowager, an imperious woman that managed king and kingdom and did
what she would. Ahab's conscience would not let him persecute Elijah
(some remains he had in him of the blood and spirit of an Israelite,
which tied his hands), but he told Jezebel all that Elijah had done
(1 Kings 19:1),
not to convince, but to exasperate her. It is not said he told her
what God had done, but what Elijah had done, as if he, by
some spell or charm, had brought fire from heaven, and the hand of the
Lord had not been in it. Especially he represented to her, as that
which would make her outrageous against him, that he had slain the
prophets; the prophets of Baal he calls the prophets, as if none
but they were worthy of the name. His heart was set upon them, and he
aggravated the slaying of them as Elijah's crime, without taking notice
that it was a just reprisal upon Jezebel for killing God's prophets,
1 Kings 18:4.
Those who, when they cannot for shame or fear do mischief themselves,
yet stir up others to do it, will have it laid to their charge as if
they had themselves done it.
2. Jezebel sent him a threatening message
(1 Kings 19:2),
that she had vowed and sworn to be the death of him within twenty-four
hours. Something prevents her from doing it just now, but she resolves
it shall not be long undone. Note, Carnal hearts are hardened and
enraged against God by that which should convince and conquer them and
bring them into subjection to him. She swears by her gods, and, raging
like one distracted, curseth herself if she slay not him, without any
proviso of a divine permission. Cruelty and confidence often meet in
persecutors. I will pursue, I will overtake,
But how came she to send him word of her design, and so to give him an
opportunity of making his escape? Did she think him so daring that he
would not flee, or herself so formidable that she could prevent him?
Or was there a special providence in it, that she should be thus
infatuated by her own fury? I am apt to think that though she desired
nothing more than his blood, yet, at this time, she durst not meddle
with him for fear of the people, all counting him a prophet, a
great prophet, and therefore sent this message to him merely to
frighten him and get him out of the way. for the present, that he might
not carry on what he had begun. The backing of her threats with an oath
and imprecation does not at all prove that she really intended to slay
him, but only that she intended to make him believe so. The gods she
swore by could do her no harm.
3. Elijah, hereupon, in a great fright, fled for his life, it is likely
by night, and came to Beer-sheba,
1 Kings 19:3.
Shall we praise him for this? We praise him not. Where was the courage
with which he had lately confronted Ahab and all the prophets of Baal?
Nay, which kept him by his sacrifice when the fire of God fell upon it?
He that stood undaunted in the midst of the terrors both of heaven and
earth trembles at the impotent menaces of a proud passionate woman.
Lord, what is man! Great faith is not always alike strong. He
could not but know that he might be very serviceable to Israel at this
juncture, and had all the reason in the world to depend upon God's
protection while he was doing God's work; yet he fled. In his former
danger God had bidden him hide himself
(1 Kings 17:3),
therefore he supposed he might do so now.
4. From Beer-sheba he went forward into the wilderness, that vast
howling wilderness in which the Israelites wandered. Beer-sheba was so
far distant from Jezreel, and within the dominion of so good a king as
Jehoshaphat, that he could not but be safe there; yet, as if his fears
haunted him even when he was out of the reach of danger, he could not
rest there, but went a day's journey into the desert. Yet perhaps he
retired thither not so much for his safety as that he might be wholly
retired from the world, in order to a more free and intimate communion
with God. He left his servant at Beer-sheba that he might be
private in the wilderness, as Abraham left his servants at the bottom
of the hill when he went up into the mount to worship God, and as
Christ in the garden was withdrawn from his disciples, or
perhaps it was because he would not expose his servant, who was young
and tender, to the hardships of the wilderness, which would have been
putting new wine into old bottles. We ought thus to consider the frame
of those who are under our charge, for God considers ours.
5. Being wearied with his journey, he grew cross (like children when
they are sleepy) and wished he might die,
1 Kings 19:4.
He requested for his life (so it is in the margin), that he
might die; for death is life to a good man; the death of the body
is the life of the soul. Yet that was not the reason why he wished to
die; it was not the deliberate desire of grace, as Paul's, to depart
and be with Christ, but the passionate wish of his corruption, as
Job's. Those that are, in this manner, forward to die are not in the
fittest frame for dying. Jezebel has sworn his death, and therefore he,
in a fret, prays for it, runs from death to death, yet with this
difference, he wishes to die by the hand of the Lord, whose tender
mercies are great, and not to fall into the hands of man, whose tender
mercies are cruel. He would rather die in the wilderness than as
Baal's prophet died, according to Jezebel's threatening
(1 Kings 19:2),
lest the worshippers of Baal should triumph and blaspheme the God of
Israel, whom they will think themselves too hard for, if they can run
down his advocate. He pleads, "It is enough. I have done enough, and
suffered enough. I am weary of living." Those that have secured a
happiness in the other world will soon have enough of this world. He
pleads, "I am not better than my fathers, not better able to
bear those fatigues, and therefore why should I be longer burdened with
them than they were?" But is this that my lord Elijah? Can that
great and gallant spirit shrink thus? God thus left him to himself, to
show that when he was bold and strong it was in the Lord and the
power of his might, but of himself he was no better than his
fathers or brethren.
6. God, by an angel, fed him in that wilderness, into the wants and
perils of which he had wilfully thrown himself, and in which, if God
had not graciously succoured him, he would have perished. How much
better does God deal with his froward children than they deserve!
Elijah, in a pet, wished to die; God needed him not, yet he designed
further to employ and honour him, and therefore sent an angel to
keep him alive. Our case would be bad sometimes if God should
take us at our word and grant us our foolish passionate requests.
Having prayed that he might die, he laid down and slept
(1 Kings 19:5),
wishing it may be to die in his sleep, and not to awake again; but he
is awakened out of his sleep, and finds himself not only well provided
for with bread and water
(1 Kings 19:6),
but, which was more, attended by an angle, who guarded him when he
slept, and twice called him to his food when it was ready for him,
1 Kings 19:5,7.
He needed not to complain of the unkindness of men when it was thus
made up by the ministration of angels. Thus provided for, he had
reason to think he had fared better than the prophets of the
groves, that did eat at Jezebel's table. Wherever God's
children are, as they are still upon their Father's ground, so they are
still under their Father's eye and care. They may lose themselves in a
wilderness, but God has not lost them; there they may look at him
that lives and sees them, as Hagar,
7. He was carried, in the strength of this meat, to Horeb, the mount
1 Kings 19:8.
Thither the Spirit of the Lord led him, probably beyond his own
intention, that he might have communion with God in the same place
where Moses had, the law that was given by Moses being revived by him.
The angel bade him eat the second time, because of the greatness of
the journey that was before him,
1 Kings 19:7.
Note God knows what he designs us for, though we do not, what service,
what trials, and will take care for us when we, for want of foresight,
cannot for ourselves, that we be furnished for them with grace
sufficient. He that appoints what the voyage shall be will victual
the ship accordingly. See how many different ways God took to keep
Elijah alive; he fed him by ravens, with multiplied meals--then by an
angel--and now, to show that man lives not by bread alone, he
kept him alive forty days without meat, not resting and sleeping, which
might make him the less to crave sustenance, but continually traversing
the mazes of the desert, a day for a year of Israel's wanderings; yet
he neither needs food nor desires it. The place, no doubt, reminds him
of the manna, and encourages him to hope that God will sustain him
here, and in due time bring him hence, as he did Israel, though, like
him, fretful and distrustful.
|Elijah's Converse with God.
||B. C. 906.|
9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and,
behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him,
What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of
hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant,
thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword;
and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the
LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong
wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the
LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind:
and after the wind an
earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in
the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his
face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of
the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said,
What doest thou here, Elijah?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of
hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant,
thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword;
and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it
15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the
wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to
be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king
over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt
thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the
sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the
sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees
which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not
I. Elijah housed in a cave at Mount Horeb, which is called the mount
of God, because on it God had formerly manifested his glory. And
perhaps this was the same cave, or cleft of a rock, in which Moses was
hidden when the Lord passed by before him and proclaimed his
What Elijah proposed to himself in coming to lodge here, I cannot
conceive, unless it was to indulge his melancholy, or to satisfy his
curiosity and assist his faith and devotion with the sight of that
famous place where the law was given and where so many great things
were done, and hoping to meet with God himself there, where Moses met
with him, or in token of his abandoning his people Israel, who hated to
be reformed (in the latter case, it agrees with Jeremiah's wish,
O that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men,
that I might leave my people, and go from them, for they are all
adulterers) and so it was a bad omen of God's forsaking them; or it
was because the thought he could not be safe any where else, and to
this instance of the hardships this good man was reduced to the apostle
They wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of
II. The visit God paid to him there and the enquiry he made concerning
him: The word of the Lord came to him. We cannot go any where to
be out of the reach of God's eye, his arm, and his word. Whither can
I flee from thy Spirit?
&c. God will take care of his out-casts; and those who, for his sake,
are driven out from among men, he will find, and own, and gather with
everlasting loving-kindnesses. John saw the visions of the Almighty
when he was in banishment in the isle of Patmos,
The question God puts to the prophet it, What doest thou
1 Kings 19:9,
1 Kings 19:13.
This is a reproof,
1. For his fleeing hither. "What brings thee so far from home? Dost
thou flee from Jezebel? Couldst thou not depend upon almighty power
for thy protection?" Lay the emphasis upon the pronoun thou.
"What thou! So great a man, so great a prophet, so famed for
resolution--dost thou flee thy country, forsake thy colours thus?" This
cowardice would have been more excusable in another, and not so bad an
example. Should such a man as I flee?
Howl, fir-trees, if the cedars be thus shaken.
2. For his fixing here. "What doest thou here, in this cave? Is this a
place for a prophet of the Lord to lodge in? Is this a time for such
men to retreat, when the public has such need of them?" In the
retirement to which God sent Elijah
(1 Kings 17:1-24)
he was a blessing to a poor widow at Sarepta, but here he had no
opportunity of doing good. Note, It concerns us often to enquire
whether we be in our place and in the way of our duty. "Am I where I
should be, whither God calls me, where my business lies, and where I
may be useful?"
III. The account he gives of himself, in answer to the question put to
(1 Kings 19:10),
and repeated, in answer to the same question,
1 Kings 19:14.
1. He excuses his retreat, and desires it may not be imputed to his
want of zeal for reformation, but to his despair of success. For God
knew, and his own conscience witnessed for him, that as long as there
was any hope of doing good he had been very jealous for the Lord God
of Hosts; but now that he had laboured in vain, and all his
endeavours were to no purpose, he thought it was time to give up the
cause, and mourn for what he could not mend. Abi in cellam, et dic,
Miserere mei--"Away to thy cell, and cry, Have compassion on
2. He complains of the people, their obstinacy in sin, and the height
of impiety to which they had arrived: "The children of Israel have
forsaken thy covenant, and that is the reason I have forsaken them;
who can stay among them, to see every thing that is sacred ruined and
run down?" This the apostle calls his making intercession against
He had often been, of choice, their advocate, but now he is
necessitated to be their accuser, before God. Thus
There is one that accuseth you, even Moses, whom you trust.
Those are truly miserable that have the testimony and prayers of God's
prophets against them.
(1.) He charges them with having forsaken God's covenant; though they
retained circumcision, that sign and seal of it, yet they had quitted
his worship and service, which was the intention of it. Those who
neglect God's ordinances, and let fall their communion with him, do
really forsake his covenant, and break their league with him.
(2.) With having thrown down his altars, not only deserted them
and suffered them to go to decay, but, in their zeal for the worship of
Baal, wilfully demolished them. This alludes to the private altars
which the prophets of the Lord had, and which good people attended, who
could not go up to Jerusalem and would not worship the calves nor Baal.
These separate altars, though breaking in upon the unity of the church,
yet, being erected and attended by those that sincerely aimed at the
glory of God and served him faithfully, the seeming schism was excused.
God owned them for his altars, as well as that at Jerusalem, and the
putting of them down is charged upon Israel as a crying sin. But this
was not all.
(3.) They have slain thy prophets with the sword, who, it is
probable, ministered at those altars. Jezebel, a foreigner, slew them
(1 Kings 18:4),
but the crime is charged upon the body of the people because the
generality of them were consenting to their death, and pleased
3. He gives the reasons why he retired into this desert and took up his
residence in this cave.
(1.) It was because he could not appear to any purpose: "I only am
left, and have none to second or support me in any good design.
They all said, The Lord he is God, but none of them would stand
by me nor offer to shelter me. That point then gained was presently
lost again, and Jezebel can do more to debauch them than I can to
reform them. What can one do against thousands?" Despair of success
hinders many a good enterprise. No one is willing to venture alone,
forgetting that those are not alone who have God with them.
(2.) It was because he could not appear with any safety: "They seek
my life to take it away; and I had better spend my life in a
useless solitude than lose my life in a fruitless endeavour to reform
those that hate to be reformed."
IV. God's manifestation of himself to him. Did he come hither to meet
with God? He shall find that God will not fail to give him the meeting.
Moses was put into the cave when God's glory passed before him; but
Elijah was called out of it: Stand upon the mount before the
1 Kings 19:11.
He saw no manner of similitude, any more than Israel did when
God talked to them in Horeb. But,
1. He heard a strong wind, and saw the terrible effects of it, for it
rent the mountains and tore the rocks. Thus was the trumpet sounded
before the Judge of heaven and earth, by his angels, whom he makes
spirits, or winds
sounded so loud that the earth not only rang, but rent again.
2. He felt the shock of an earthquake.
3. He saw an eruption of fire,
1 Kings 19:12.
These were to usher in the designed manifestation of the divine glory,
angels being employed in them, whom he maketh a flame of fire,
and who, as his ministers, march before him, to prepare in this
desert a highway for our God. But,
4. At last he perceived a still small voice, in which the
Lord was, that is, by which he spoke to him, and not out of the
wind, or the earthquake, or the fire. Those struck an awe upon him,
awakened his attention, and inspired humility and reverence; but God
chose to make known his mind to him in whispers soft, not in those
dreadful sounds. When he perceived this,
(1.) He wrapped hi face in his mantle, as one afraid to look
upon the glory of God, and apprehensive that it would dazzle his eyes
and overcome him. The angels cover their faces before God in
token of reverence,
Elijah hid his face in token of shame for having been such a coward as
to flee from his duty when he had such a God of power to stand by him
in it. The wind, and earthquake, and fire, did not make him cover his
face, but the still voice did. Gracious souls are more affected by the
tender mercies of the Lord than by his terrors.
(2.) He stood at the entrance of the cave, ready to hear what God had
to say to him. This method of God's manifesting himself here at Mount
Horeb seems to refer to the discoveries God formerly made of himself at
this place to Moses.
[1.] Then there was a tempest, an earthquake, and fire
but, when God would show Moses his glory, he proclaimed his
goodness; and so here: He was, the Word was, in the still
[2.] Then the law was thus given to Israel, with the appearances of
terror first and then with a voice of words; and Elijah being now
called to revive that law, especially the first two commandments of it,
is here taught how to manage it; he must not only awaken and terrify
the people with amazing signs, like the earthquake and fire, but he
must endeavour, with a still small voice, to convince and persuade
them, and not forsake them when he should be addressing them. Faith
comes by hearing the word of God; miracles do but make way for it.
[3.] Then God spoke to his people with terror; but in the gospel of
Christ, which was to be introduced by the spirit and power of Elias, he
would speak by a still small voice, the dread of which should not make
us afraid; see
V. The orders God gives him to execute. He repeats the question he had
put to him before, "What doest thou here? This is not a place
for thee now." Elijah gives the same answer
(1 Kings 19:14),
complaining of Israel's apostasy from God and the ruin of religion
among them. To this God gives him a reply. When he wished he might
(1 Kings 19:4)
God answered him not according to his folly, but was so far from
letting him die that he not only kept him alive then but provided that
he should never die, but be translated. But when he complained of his
discouragement (and whither should God's prophets go with their
complaints of that kind but to their Master?) God gave him an answer.
He sends him back with directions to appoint Hazael king of Syria
(1 Kings 19:15),
Jehu king of Israel, and Elisha his successor in the eminency of the
(1 Kings 19:16),
which is intended as a prediction that by these God would chastise the
degenerate Israelites, plead his own cause among them, and avenge
the quarrel of his covenant,
1 Kings 19:17.
Elijah complained that the wickedness of Israel was unpunished. The
judgment of famine was too gentle, and had not reclaimed them; it was
removed before they were reformed: "I have been jealous," says
he, "for God's name, but he himself has not appeared jealous for it."
"Well," says God, "be content; it is all in good time; judgments are
prepared for those scorners, though they are not yet inflicted; the
persons are pitched upon, and shall now be nominated, for they are now
in being, who shall do the business."
1. "When Hazael comes to be king of Syria, he shall make bloody work
among the people
(2 Kings 8:12)
and so correct them for their idolatry."
2. "When Jehu comes to be king of Israel he shall make bloody work with
the royal family, and shall utterly destroy the house of Ahab, that set
up and maintained idolatry."
3. "Elisha, while thou art on earth, shall strengthen thy hands; and,
when thou art gone, shall carry on thy work, and be a remaining witness
against the apostasy of Israel, and even he shall slay the children of
Bethel, that idolatrous city." Note, The wicked are reserved to
judgment. Evil pursues sinners, and there is no escaping it; to
attempt an escape is but to run from one sword's point upon another.
He that flees from the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that
gets up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare. Elisha, with
the sword of the Spirit, shall terrify and wound the consciences
of those who escape Hazael's sword of war and Jehu's sword of justice.
With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked,
It is a great comfort to good men and good ministers to think that God
will never want instruments to do his work in his time, but, when they
are gone, others shall be raised up to carry it on.
VI. The comfortable information God gives him of the number of
Israelites who retained their integrity, though he thought he was left
(1 Kings 19:18):
I have left 7000 in Israel (besides Judea) who have not bowed
the knee to Baal. Note,
1. In times of the greatest degeneracy and apostasy God has always
had, and will have, a remnant faithful to him, some that keep their
integrity and do not go down the stream. The apostle mentions this
answer of God to Elijah
and applies it to his own day, when the Jews generally rejected the
gospel. Yet, says he, at this time also there is a
2. It is God's work to preserve that remnant, and distinguish them from
the rest, for without his grace they could not have distinguished
themselves: I have left me; it is therefore said to be a remnant
according to the election of grace.
3. It is but a little remnant, in comparison with the degenerate race;
what are 7000 to the thousands of Israel? Yet, when those of every age
come together, they will be found many more, 12,000 sealed out of
4. God's faithful ones are often his hidden ones
and the visible church is scarcely visible, the wheat lost in the chaff
and the gold in the dross, till the sifting, refining, separating day
5. The Lord knows those that are his, though we do not; he sees
6. There are more good people in the world than some wise and holy men
think there are. Their jealousy of themselves, and for God, makes them
think the corruption is universal; but God sees not as they do. When we
come to heaven, as we shall miss a great many whom we thought to meet
there, so we shall meet a great many whom we little thought to find
there. God's love often proves larger than man's charity and more
|The Call of Elisha.
||B. C. 901.|
19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat,
who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he
with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle
20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let
me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will
follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I
done to thee?
21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and
slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the
oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose,
and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.
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
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
1 Kings 19:19.
Though a great man (as appears by his feast,
1 Kings 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
(1 Kings 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,
but, when Elijah went to heaven, he had the mantle entire,
2 Kings 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 Kings 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
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
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 Kings 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
2 Kings 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