1 Kings 19:20
And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray you, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you. And he said to him, Go back again: for what have I done to you?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Let me, I pray thee.—It is impossible not to compare this with the similar request made to our Lord (Luke 9:61-62) by one who declared readiness to follow Him. The comparison suggests that the answer of Elijah is one of half-ironical rebuke of what seemed hesitation—“Go back, if thou wilt; what have I done to constrain thee?” In both cases we have the stern but necessary rejection of half-hearted service, even if the heart be distracted by the most natural and sacred love. But Elijah sees that Elisha means simply farewell, and he apparently waits till it is over.

1 Kings 19:20. He left the oxen and ran after Elijah — Being powerfully moved to follow him, and wholly give himself up to his function. And said — Or, but he said, or, yet he said, Let me kiss my father, &c. — That is, bid them farewell by the usual ceremony. And he said Go back again — Take thy leave of them, as thou desirest, and then return to me again. For what have I done unto thee? — Either, first, to hinder thee from performing that office: that employment to which I have called thee doth not require an alienation of thy heart from thy parents, nor the total neglect of them. Or, secondly, to make such a change in thee, that thou shouldest be willing to forsake thy parents, and lands, and all, that thou mayest follow me. Whence comes this marvellous change? It is not from me, who did only throw my mantle over thee, but from a higher power, even from God’s Spirit, which hath changed thy heart, and consecrated thee to thy prophetical office; which, therefore, it concerns thee vigorously to execute, and wholly to devote thyself to it.19:19-21 Elijah found Elisha by Divine direction, not in the schools of the prophets, but in the field; not reading, or praying, or sacrificing, but ploughing. Idleness is no man's honour, nor is husbandry any man's disgrace. An honest calling in the world, does not put us out of the way of our heavenly calling, any more than it did Elisha. His heart was touched by the Holy Spirit, and he was ready to leave all to attend Elijah. 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. 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; yet Elisha cheerfully leaves all to accompany him. When the Saviour said to one and to another, Follow me, the dearest friends and most profitable occupations were cheerfully left, and the most arduous duties done from love to his name. May we, in like manner, feel the energy of his grace working in us mightily, and by unreserved submission at once, may we make our calling and election sure.Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father ... - Not an unnatural request before following his new spiritual father. Elijah sees in his address a divided heart, and will not give the permission or accept the service thus tendered. Hence, his cold reply. See Luke 9:61-62.

Go back again ... - i. e., "Go, return to thy plowing ... why shouldest thou quit it? Why take leave of thy friends and come with me? What have I done to thee to require such a sacrifice? for as a sacrifice thou evidently regardest it. Truly I have done nothing to thee. Thou canst remain as thou art."

20. what have I done to thee?—that is, Go, but keep in mind the solemn ceremony I have just performed on thee. It is not I, but God, who calls thee. Do not allow any earthly affection to detain you from obeying His call. He ran after Elijah; being powerfully moved by God’s Spirit to follow Elijah, and wholly to give up himself to his affection.

And said; or, but he said; or, yet he said.

Let me kiss my father and my mother, i.e. bid them farewell, by the usual ceremony. See Genesis 29:11 31:28 Acts 20:37.

Go back again, and take thy leave of them, as thou desirest, and then return to me again.

What have I done to thee? either, first, To hinder thee from performing that office. That employment to which I have called thee doth not require an alienation of thy heart from thy parents, nor the total neglect of them. Or, secondly, To make such a change in thee, that thou shouldst be willing to forsake thy parents, and lands, and all, and desire only this liberty to go and bid them farewell, that thou mayest follow me. Whence comes this marvellous change? It is not from me, who did only throw my mantle over thee; but from a higher power, even from God’s Spirit, which hath changed thy heart, and consecrated thee to thy prophetical office; which therefore it concerns thee vigorously to execute, and wholly to devote thyself to it. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah,.... His heart being touched by the Lord at the same time, and his mind enlightened to understand what was meant by that action:

and said, let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother; take his leave of them in this way, which was what was used by friends at parting, see Ruth 1:9.

and then I will follow thee; which he understood was meant by his casting his mantle over him:

and he said unto him, go back again; to his plough:

for what have I done to thee? he had only cast the skirts of his mantle over him, and had said nothing to him; this he said to try him, and get out of him what was in his heart, and how it had been touched by the Spirit of God; and if so, then he suggests it was not what he had done, but what the Lord had impressed upon him, that would oblige him to return, and follow him, after he had taken his leave of his parents.

And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, {i} 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?

(i) Though this natural affection is not to be contemned, yet it should not move us when God calls us to serve him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. kiss my father and my mother] He was sensible that the separation was to be permanent, and that a higher call than that of earthly parentage was laid upon him. This is the ground for his petition. Thus will he make known to his parents the reason of his departure.

Go back again: for what have I done to thee?] Elijah grants his request, but accompanies the permission with words which must remind Elisha that he cannot now stay amid his home duties, ‘Go back again,’ he says, ‘but let it be only for the filial leave-taking, for what have I done to thee? Have I not chosen thee to be my companion and helper? Is not God’s voice calling thee, through me, to do Him service?’Verse 20. - And he left the oxen [As, being the last in the line, he could do, without stopping the others. It is probable too that, Elisha being the last, Elijah's action would not have been observed by the rest], and ran after Elijah [It is clear that Elisha both understood the act, and made up his mind at once. No doubt he too had long sighed and prayed over the demoralization of his country and the dishonour done to his God. Elijah, after casting the mantle, strode on, leaving it for Elisha to take or reject it. The latter soon showed his choice by running after him], 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 [Heb. go, return]: for what have I done to thee? [There is not a word of reproof here, as Wordsworth and Rawlinson imagine. Indeed, it would have been strange if there had been. A greater readiness to obey the prophetic summons, Elisha could not well have showed. Forthwith, as soon as he realized his call, "he left the oxen and ran after" his newmaster. True, he asks permission - and why should he not? for "grace is no enemy to good nature" - to give a parting embrace to the father and mother to whom he owed his life, and whom he had been required by God to honour. But there is no proof of "a divided heart" here. If he had begged to be allowed to stay and bury his mother and father (St. Luke 9:59-61) it might have been otherwise. But he suggests nothing of the kind. He says: "One kiss, one farewell, and then I will follow thee." It is a complete mistake, consequently, to interpret Elijah's words to mean, "Go, return to thy ploughing, for why shouldst thou quit it?... Thou canst remain as thou art" (Rawlinson). Their true meaning, as evidenced by the sequel (ver. 21), clearly was, "Go back and kiss them; why shouldst thou not? For what have I done to thee? I have summoned thee to follow me. But I have not required thee to repudiate thine own flesh and blood."] When Elijah heard this, he covered up his face in his cloak (אדּרת; see at 2 Kings 1:8) and went out to the entrance to the cave. And behold he heard the question a second time, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" and answered with a repetition of his complain (see 1 Kings 19:9, 1 Kings 19:10). - While the appearance of God, not in the tempest, the earthquake, and the fire, but in a gentle rustling, revealed the Lord to him as a merciful and gracious God, long-suffering, and of great goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6), the answer to his complaint showed him that He did not leave guilt unpunished (Exodus 34:7), since the Lord gave him the following command, 1 Kings 19:15.: "Go back in thy way to the desert of Damascus, and anoint Hazael king over Aram (see 2 Kings 8:12-13), and Jehu the son of Nimshi king over Israel (see 2 Kings 9:2), and Elisha the son of Shaphat prophet in thy stead" (see 1 Kings 19:19); and then added this promise, which must have quieted his zeal, that was praiseworthy in the feelings from which it sprang, although it had assumed too passionate a form, and have given him courage to continue his prophetic work: "And it will come to pass, that however escapeth the sword of Hazael, him will Jehu slay, and whoever escapeth the sword of Jehu, him will Elisha slay."
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