My friend and colleague, Claude Mariottini, argues that Paul’s use of not muzzling the ox is not an argument from the lesser (ox) to the greater (apostles) but allegory:
Paul’s argument was that if draft animals could share from the results of their labors, then those who work promoting the cause of Christ should also share from the results of their work.
But Paul is not using a qal wahomer. Paul is allegorizing the text in order to bring canonical authority to his teaching. Paul used allegory here in 1 Corinthians 9:9, in 1 Corinthians 10:4 where he identifies the rock that provided water for the Israelites in the wilderness with Christ, and in Galatians 4:21-31 in which Paul is clear in what he is about to teach: “Now this is an allegory” (Gal 4:24 NRS). The allegory is about Sarah and Hagar, who represent two covenants. Hagar represents Mount Sinai and Sarah represents the heavenly Jerusalem.
Although scholars disagree on Paul’s use of Deuteronomy in 1 Corinthians 9:9, a simple reading of the text seems to point to the fact that Paul is saying that in the law found in Deuteronomy 25:4 God’s primary concern is with the financial well-being of the apostles. Paul seems to be emphatic in his argument: “Is it for oxen that God is concerned? . . . It was indeed written for our sake.” What Paul is using here is not a qal wahomer, but he is allegorizing the text in order to claim that the church should be concerned with the financial well-being of the apostles….
As Christians, we proclaim that the Old Testament witnesses to Christ and points to him as the coming son of David who came to proclaim the good news of salvation for the whole world. But as Christians who value the historical claims of the Old Testament, we must reject any method of interpretation that removes the historical sense of the text.
And this is the danger ministers face when preaching from the Old Testament. They face the danger of not proclaiming what the text says in order to proclaim what they think the text says.