Elijah’s mantle would take a very important place in Elisha’s life in the coming chapters, but what we will focus on today is the willingness of Elisha to forsake mother, father, home, and wealth to follow the call of the Lord.* The call of a prophet was not a luxurious call nor a safe call. Israel was in rebellion against the Lord. Bounties were on the heads of the prophets. Many had already been killed, and many more would be killed. And yet, when the Lord called him through the prophet Elijah, he forsook all and followed the Lord.
So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me 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?” So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.
I Kings 19:19-21 NKJV
How do you respond to your calling from the Lord? Do you carry out the Lord’s calling wholeheartedly without reservation or do you do so begrudgingly, wishing for something different?
When the Lord answered Elijah’s prayer at Mt. Horeb (Sinai), the anointing of a prophet was third on the list. Nevertheless, it was the first action that took place after Elijah left Horeb. We do not know much about Elisha’s life before he was called to be a prophet, but we can discern something from these verses.
Elisha was from a family of considerable means. He plowed with twelve yoke of oxen just after a terrible famine had been in the land for 3 years. He had sufficient oxen to kill some to give a feast for the family, servants, and perhaps neighbors. He lived in a good location in “the valley of dancing” (Abel-Meholah), which is believed to have been along the Jordan river and would have been one of the essential sources of sustenance during the famine.