“The Proverb of Two Servants”


The word “proverb” at its root level, simply translates “comparison”.
A proverb has two conflicting approaches to the same scenario. And they are generally given in such a way as having the ability to be expanded to fit an array of life experiences.


There were two servants who served the same man, Elijah
While we do not even know the name of the first servant; we do know he has a very short career with Elijah. Then there is another servant who not only accepts the position of Elijah but he asks for and receives the Mantle of Elijah. However there is more, Elisha receives a double portion of the anointing.


Because of the idol worship of Baal and Ashe’rah had permeated the Land, both Israel and Judah had sinned before the Lord.


Elijah declares to Ahab, the king of Israel a great drought.
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. 1st Kings 17:1


There was no rain for 3 ½ years according to James 5:17.


Three and a half years later in 1st kings 18:1, the Lord instructs Elijah to go and show himself to Ahab and to inform the king that the drought was over and the rain (the blessing) was about to begin.


After Elijah meets with Ahab and tells the King the drought is over; Elijah ascends up the top of Mount Carmel. He then speaks to his servant (whose name is not revealed) to go and look toward the sea. After seven trips back and forth, the servant comes back to inform Elijah of a small cloud the size of a man’s hand. Note, this is the first time we see that Elijah even has a servant.


The only other mention of this same servant is found in 1st Kings 19:3.
Elijah tells his servant to stay there in Be’er Sheba which the servant complies.


In those days it was customary to mentor or to bring to maturity one of like giftings. There was what is referred to as “the sons of the prophets”. It would seem that a seasoned prophet would take on a younger less experienced man as a servant who would then learn to use his gifting.


After Elijah had done wondrous things in the Land, he had however on three occasions said to the Lord; “I am the only prophet left and they seek my life”. It is then the Lord first corrects Elijah and then gives instructions to go and anoint Elisha to take his place. Elisha now becomes Elijah’s servant and ministers to him.


The testing of the true servant
1st test

And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord lives, and as thy soul lives, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.  2nd Kings 2:2

Bethel or Beit El translates to “House of God”
Elijah is saying to Elisha to stay where they were at that time, for Elijah was ascending up to “the house of God. (1o miles north of Jerusalem)

Notice the tenacity of Elisha’s response, “As the Lord lives, I will not leave thee”.

Elisha could have easily said in his heart, my master demands I stay here in this place. Elijah was removing all obligations from the shoulders of Elisha.
Elijah was saying, “Elisha, you stay here, there is no need for you to go all that distance with me, stay here and avoid the hardship of the journey.”
But Elisha’s answer was immediate and direct, “I will not leave you.”

2nd test
And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord lives, and as thy soul lives, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. 2nd Kings 2:4

Jericho translates to “Place of Fragrance” or “moon city”
The most important city situated in the wide plain in the Jordan valley.

Again, Elisha responds:
“As the Lord lives, and as thy soul lives, I will not leave thee.”  
So they came to Jericho.

Elisha knew the time of his master’s departure. And Elisha’s desire to inherit the anointing of Elijah far superseded the desire for safety and comfort to stay behind even in a lovely place such as Jericho.

3rd test
And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord lives, and as thy soul lives, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. 2nd Kings 2:6

The Jordan River is the deepest place of the Jordan Valley and is a steep decline and not easily accessible.

For the third time, Elisha responds to Elijah, “As the Lord lives, I will not leave thee.”

The most obvious thing to have done would have been to take the hint that Elijah no longer cared to have Elisha travel with him. Elisha could have become offended by this third attempt to leave him behind in some city. Elisha was given every opportunity to leave his ministry to Elijah, to walk away from any and all concerns for his master. There was no need to travel the long and dangerous routes from one city to the next. It was far safer and with considerably less hardship to stay in a city where provision was in abundance. Why continue when clearly Elijah seemed to no longer require his services?


Important observation, there is no mention of any ministry having taken place in any of these three locations with one exception, ministry to Elisha himself which takes place after crossing the Jordan River with Elijah. The story of Elijah and Elisha seems to imply that it was a true test of Elisha’s persistence and endurance.


Only then was the promise realized and the Mantle of Elijah fell upon Elisha. Because of his burning passion, his resolute attitude with an unbending unyielding commitment did Elisha receive the reward he earnestly sought.


The first servant made the fatal mistake of accepting Elijah’s offer.
Only one time was this servant instructed by Elijah to remain in a city.


He knew the sacrifice when he began his duties however at some point; he began to question God. Finally when Elijah gave him the chance to simply walk away, he accepted the offer. He very possibly viewed Elijah as rejecting him as his protégé.


Yet, Elisha was not tested once but three times!
I once heard the Lord say,
“Only with what is in the heart can one be summoned for good or evil.”


While it may have appeared as Elijah testing the resolve of Elisha,
It was not Elijah who was conducting the test….but the Lord!


Blessings to you and your house,

Steve Grable