Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 19

Elisha kills his oxen

1 Kings 19:21

At once, Elisha had decided to work for God as the personal servant of Elijah. That decision was absolute in every way. Elisha would not even go back home to say goodbye to his parents, unless Elijah permitted it. Elisha knew that, as a servant, he had a duty to obey Elijah.

When Elijah allowed him to return, Elisha used that as an opportunity to show his joy. He was not sorry to leave his home and his work, because he served God joyfully (see Psalm 100:1). In fact, he wanted his friends, his family and everyone else to share his joy. He prepared a great meal for the people in his town. He wanted them all to be glad that God had chosen him to be Elijah’s servant.

The meat for that meal was the two oxen, the strong farm animals that pulled Elisha’s plough (verse 19). The fuel for the fire that cooked them was his wooden plough. So, Elisha was destroying what he needed for his former work. These would have been the most valuable things that he owned. He wanted everyone to realise that he would never return to his work as a farmer. In fact, he made it impossible to do that. From this time, he would only work for God as Elijah directed him. Elisha had given himself completely to God. It hardly seemed as if anything else in life truly mattered to him.

It is interesting to compare Elisha with King Saul, who also made a sudden decision to kill his oxen (1 Samuel 11:6-7). Both men were doing God’s work at that time. Elisha acted from a sense of joy. However, Saul did it in zeal – in other words, Saul’s anger was for the honour of God.

Next part: The king of Aram attacks Israel (1 Kings 20:1)


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