2 Kings 5
Naaman was a commander in the army for the King of Syria. He was a faithful servant who was favored by the King because the Lord gave him victory and success wherever he went. He was a good soldier, but he was also a leper. During a raid in Israel, Naaman had taken a little girl captive, and she entered into the service of Naaman's wife. This little one was distressed by the condition that Naaman suffered from and was concerned for her mistress. She voiced her concerns one day and expressed that it was her wish that Naaman could meet the prophet who was in Samaria because she was convinced that he would be able to heal her master. The concern that this little girl expressed did not fall on deaf ears. Her mistress heard these words and took them to heart. She wanted her husband to pursue the matter and see if such a meeting could be arranged. Naaman reported these words to the king, and he immediately sent Naaman to Israel with a letter written to the King of Israel on his behalf. Naaman was happy to pay any price for a cure, so he took a tremendous amount of treasure with him to pay for these services. Naaman took silver, gold, and clothing as tribute. Naaman went straight to the King of Israel and presented the letter which instructed the king to cure him of his leprosy. The King of Israel was upset, and he tore his clothes in distress for he concluded that this was a pretext for hostility and war. Word of this traveled to Elisha, and he sent word to the King that he should send this foreigner to his house so that he would know that there was a prophet of the living God in Israel. Naaman and his entourage made their way to the home of the prophet as directed, but when they arrived at the door, Elisha sent a messenger with some odd instructions. The instructions were simple; wash in the Jordan seven times and you will be clean. General Naaman was insulted by the audacity shown by this prophet who did not even bother to come to the door. Naaman turned in anger and went away. He thought that this prophet would come out and go through some religious rituals and that he would be immediately cured. Not only that, but he was sending this foreign dignitary to wash in the muddy Jordan River. The rivers of Damascus were fresh, clear, and beautiful so to send him to the least desirable river was just further insult. Naaman left in a rage, but his servants quickly drew near in order to reason with him. Naaman's servants were not unhappy at all, and they reasoned with him that he would have been willing to attempt any difficult thing that was asked of him so to do something as simple as wash in a river should at least be tried. Naaman could not argue with such logic, and he made his way to the Jordan. Naaman followed Elisha's instructions, and when he surfaced after the seventh time, his skin was restored as if it was new. Naaman was freed from the death touch, and his heart was changed in the process.
Gratitude And Greed
Naaman returned to the prophet, praised God, and wanted to express his thanks with gifts. Elisha refused any gifts because it was the Lord who had healed Naaman. Naaman asked to take some of the soil back with him to a place where he would offer sacrifices. Naaman indicated that as captain of the army, he would be required to attend the temple of Rimmon with his king, where he would be obligated to bow before that god. He asked for pardon and Elisha sent him away in peace. Elisha's servant Gehazi could not bear the thought of Naaman going home without paying some sort of price. He ran after Naaman and quickly overtook him. He told Naaman that Elisha had changed his mind regarding the gifts which had been offered because two sons of the prophets from Mt. Ephraim had come for a visit, and Elisha would like Naaman to donate to them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing. Naaman believed Gehazi and wanted to do even more. Naaman gave two talents and, along with the changes of garments, put them upon the shoulders of two of his servants. At a hill just outside Samaria, Gehazi took the money from Naaman’s slaves and dismissed them. He could not run the risk of having these foreigners seen entering Samaria again. Gehazi took the bags of money and hid them in the house of his master. Gehazi went and stood before Elisha who questioned him about where he had been. Gehazi lied and Elisha confronted him with the truth. He knew what Gehazi had done. He asked Gehazi what he would do with this new found wealth, and then he pronounced judgment against his servant. Since Gehazi had taken of Naaman’s goods, he would also partake of his leprosy. Gehazi's skin turned white as snow, and he departed from the presence of Elisha to spend his remaining days with the outcast lepers.
Things To Consider:
- Why was God's sovereignty over the nations an important issue?
- How did God work through a prisoner of war to heal Naaman?
- Who put it in the heart of the king to send Naaman?
- What do we learn about the faith of the king of Israel versus the faith go the King of Syria?
- Why are we so frustrated when God does not meet our expectations?
- How does anger blind us?
- Who speaks truth to you when you don't want to listen?
- What made Naaman clean?
- Was the Jordan River necessary? Why or why not?
- How can you see Naaman's change of heart?
- Why is greed dangerous?
- Why do you think Elisha refused a reward?