1 Kings 19:19-21
So he departed there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth…
We think of the call of Elisha. He was a farmer of Abel-meholah, in the plain of Jordan. His father's name (it is all we know of him) was Shaphat — "the judge."
I. THE DIVINE CALL FOUND HIM BUSY AT HIS EMPLOYMENT. Our Saviour called into the apostolate industrious, and not idle, men. Matthew from the customhouse; Peter, Andrew, John, and James from their work as fishermen; and Nathanael from the great spiritual labour of earnest prayer beneath the fig-tree; and Paul from his intended murderous industry as he toiled towards Damascus. It is so in the Old Testament. Moses was keeping Jethro's flock when from the bush burning, unburnt, there sounded the irresistible voice that sent him into one of the most illustrious pages of all history. The call came to Gideon when he was threshing wheat; to David, watching his father's sheep; to Amos, tending cattle; to Elisha, following the plough. There was a rode sagacity in that famous king who chased in his homely wanderings the idle loungers from the street with "Away, sirrah, and take to some work!" who encouraged the stall-women to have busy hands while waiting for custom, in a compulsory fashion, indeed; and if they would not be encouraged by his desire packed them and their stalls away. lie would avoid everywhere the various and widespreading evils of indolence.
II. THE DIVINE CALL WAS UNEXPECTED BY HIM. He was sought; he did not seek. God saw him in the rural obscurity, and challenged him forth into the national recognition and service. What had been his ambition — what the animating hope of his life? lie feared God above many, and doubtless desired to be a considerate master, dutiful son, true friend, the comforter of those cast down, a light at home and in the neighbouring village. And to think of English instances. How unlikely that a Huntingdonshire farmer would become England's noblest monarch, though without the crown, which he, indeed, could well dispense with. Or in a more recent day, how unlikely that a young English carpenter would become the apostle of the Southern Seas, or that a young Scottish gardener would become the apostle of Southern Africa. Thus God pours contempt upon human judgment, "that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
III. THE CALL WAS ONE TO SELF-SACRIFICE AND PERIL. It is clear from the narrative that Elisha was in easy circumstances. He had servants and much cattle; he was heir to these at any rate. A quiet, pleasant country life was his — with the great miracle of nature ever before his eyes — labour in the open field under the blue of heaven, yet "a life that led melodious days." A serene man this — moving amid serene surroundings, looking with contemplative mind upon the lapse of seasons, the faces of familiar men, and the sacred scrolls of Hebrew Scripture. Brethren, our call to Christ and Christian service involves some sacrifice. With reiterated emphasis Christ says that. lie has not painted His kingdom in the colours of fancy. He tells of cross as well as crown; of "much tribulation" as well as eternal throne.
IV. THE CALL WAS ACCEPTABLE TO ELISHA. Having cast his mantle upon Elisha, Elijah hastened on his way. He paused not to expound the call; expositions were to follow. He would compel no man into perilous companionship with himself. On he went, and the wondering herdsmen watched. And startled Elisha — for the thing had been done suddenly — recovers himself.
V. ELISHA'S ACCEPTANCE OF THE CALL WAS CELEBRATED BY A FEAST. The event was worthy of celebration. Honour, with whatever peril, had come to him, and brighter than any crown. The man kindled. He was aglow to be gone. He was henceforth to hold another plough. He left all — native village, friends, patrimony, parents. With their kiss and blessing, the feast ended. And comes no call to us? — to Christ, and then to Christian service? Let us accept it, and then angels will "begin to be merry," with a joy never to end! O heavenly celebration!
(G. T. Coster.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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 upon him.
WEB: So he departed there, 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 over to him, and cast his mantle on him.