After the split of Israel into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah, the Northern Kingdom continued to fall away and rebel against God. They turned to pagan gods and followed wicked rituals and practices. As a result, God used the nations around them to harass them and attack them and constantly be at war in order to teach Israel to return to the one true God. A nation that God used constantly to do this was Syria. Israel seemed to be constantly at war with Syria.
Now, God used a commander named Naaman to give great victory to Syria. We find his story in 2 Kings 5. But, Naaman had a spot of leprosy. First, just having leprosy was trial enough, but having the stigma of being a leper while also being the commander of the army of Syria made it worse. Now, Naaman was not a godly man. He was a pagan idle worshiper with a temper problem. He had great pride as we will see. Naaman took an Israelite girl captive during a raid into Israel and brought her back and put her into slavery. Even through God allowed this to happen as chastisement to Israel, we know in His word that he will punish the wicked who take part in it. But it seems that God is going to bless Naaman. He is not going to bless him because Naaman deserves it or is righteous. God is going to bless Naaman because it will glorify God in the eyes of Israel and Syria.
This slave girl from Israel tells Naaman that he can be healed in the land of Israel. Naaman tells the King of Syria and the King of Syria sends Naaman and a letter to the King of Israel.
2 Kings 5:3–6 (NKJV) — 3 Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” 4 And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel.” 5 Then the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.
Now the King of Israel freaks out about this.
2 Kings 5:7 (NKJV) — 7 And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.”
The King of Israel was afraid. He believed the King of Syria was using this to start a war with him. The problem here is that the King of Israel was so wicked that he didn’t even think to call on Elisha the prophet. But, Elisha hears about it anyway and comes to the king.
2 Kings 5:8 (NKJV) — 8 So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
So Naaman goes to meet Elisha.
2 Kings 5:9–12 (NKJV) — 9 Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.
Naaman was totally insulted. He thought he was important enough that Elisha should at least come out and meet him personally. But, Elisha doesn’t think Naaman is all that important and sends a servant to tell Naaman what to do to be clean. Naaman storms off in a fury. Also, Naaman doesn’t want to get in the Jordan River. Now, I have been in the Jordan River and I understand where Naaman is coming from, it is quite dirty. This just added to the insult. Luckily for Naaman, his servants have cooler heads and intervene.
2 Kings 5:13–14 (NKJV) — 13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Naaman would have done a mighty deed if Elisha had told him to do so. He was a mighty man and had done mighty deeds before. But Elisha gave him something simple to do and it was beneath Naaman. After the intervention of his servants, Naaman finally gives in and is healed. Naaman’s response to all this…belief. Naaman turns to the living God. He knows now that there is no God in the world but the God of Israel.
It is amazing to me that we in the Church want to do great things. We want to be seen as doing mighty things for God. The truth is that this is just pride and flesh. This kind of heart won’t be used by God. The mighty deed was not done by Naaman, it was done by God. If it had been done by Naaman, Naaman would have the credit. But as it is, God received all the credit. In fact, even Elisha couldn’t get the credit because he didn’t even go out and meet the man. God always receives the credit. Men cannot take His glory from Him.
Notice also that the humble servants throughout this episode are the holy ones. The humble servants didn’t let pride get in the way. The Israelite girl that was Naaman’s slave could have let him suffer but she didn’t. Naaman’s servants could have let him storm back to Syria in a rage, but they didn’t. It is the servant that always makes the difference.
Jesus Christ, God and Creator, came to this earth and lowered Himself to be a servant to all mankind. He calls us to be servants. If you want to do mighty things, then serve one another. There is nothing mightier.
In His Service, Scott
This Week’s Reading Plan:
- Day 1 – 2 Kings 6-8
- Day 2 – 2 Kings 9-11
- Day 3 – 2 Kings 12-14
- Day 4 – 2 Kings 15-17
- Day 5 – 2 Kings 18-19
- Day 6 – 2 Kings 20-22
- Day 7 – 2 Kings 23-25