2 Kings 2:9
And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you, before I be taken away from you…
Elijah, with his clear-eyed vision, saw that Elisha and not himself was the man to be considered at this hour; the parting meant more to Elisha than it did to himself. Elijah knew that all was right between him and God. He had no doubts about his future. I do not suppose he had the slightest intimation as to the peculiar manner in which he would leave the earth, although his words indicate a premonition that he was not to die in the natural, usual way. But in whatever way God called him, Elijah was safe. His work was done. His record was made up. Heaven and immortal glory, with the crown of eternal life, remained for him. Elisha, however, was in the midst of the struggle of life. He was to remain in the warring and striving world. He was to stand before wicked kings and ungodly men as the messenger of God. He would need every possible help and blessing that he might not fall or faint by the day. Ah, it is not death that the good man needs to fear. Living is infinitely more serious than dying. If we live well, we shall die well. We are not for a moment to suppose that there was anything selfish or ambitious in the request of Elisha. He was not asking that he might be twice as great as Elijah. He was thinking of the great need of the people and how much the loss of Elijah would mean, and he felt how small were his own powers and gifts compared to those of the great man whom he had loved and followed. He is asking that upon his own gifts and powers, which seem to him so small, a double portion of the spirit that had made Elijah so great may rest and make him strong to do the work of God which was now to fall upon his shoulders. The response of Elijah was significant. He answered, "Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so." Dr. William M. Taylor sees in this answer of Elijah this meaning: The sight of Elijah's ascension gave to Elisha a firmer and more vivid faith in the reality of the unseen life than he had ever had before and greater than even Elijah had ever known. It remains for us to find our message in considering what constituted this spirit of Elijah, a double portion of which Elisha desired as the greatest boon that could come to him. For every one of us who is striving to live the good life to-day will find it as valuable a possession as it was to Elisha.
1. It was a vital faith in the presence and power of God in the world. There was Elijah's power. He believed God. God was real to him. God was not lost to Elijah's sight by the creation which He had made. Elijah saw God present in the midst of His world with unlimited power and control. This gave him all his courage. It was the same force that made John Knox a greater terror to a wicked queen than all the armies of Scotland. It was the same force that made Luther the greatest man of Ms day.
2. The spirit of Elijah was the spirit of obedience. He obeyed God promptly, without questioning; we never should have heard of him but for that. He kept his ear open, listening to God, and he went swiftly to do the Divine bidding. That was what gave value to Elijah's conduct. Think of the millions of Christians in the world to-day. If they all had Elijah's spirit of obedience, what revolutions would come about. The gambling hell would be abolished for ever. War would die out of the earth, and the Gospel would speedily be preached to every creature, if only all the men and women who bear the name of Jesus Christ had Elijah's spirit of implicit obedience to God.
3. Elijah's spirit was a spirit of supreme courage born of this faith and obedience.
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.