Naaman Healed of Leprosy

II Kings 5
(Click here to download as a Word document)

A Great Man
Verse 1: Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
The Hebrew word for Syria refers to Aram and the king of Aram was a significant king in Syria. Naaman was the man who had everything - including leprosy! He was the #2 person in the kingdom in human terms, but for many, he was the #1 person. His wife and servants seemed to think very highly of Naaman. Even God seemed to recognize a heart that was open to his truth. It was God who gave him victory after victory, and it was God who gave him leprosy. God also God led him to Elisha, who introduced him to God.

A Little Maid
Verse 2-3: And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
She was a little girl who had nothing - but she had the Lord and shared him! Her deeds as a servant girl must have complemented her conversation. We don't know her name, age or background, but it is obvious that she received godly instructions in her home. Her parents must have been heartbroken when she was taken captive, but if they too had that same faith, God would have known how to comfort them. We don't read much in the Old Testament about intercessory prayer, but I am confident that it was as common as it is today. Jacob thought that Joseph was dead and Daniel's parents were apparently victims of the war, but this girl's parents had reason to believe that their prayers for her would be heard.

A Message Delivered
Verse 4: And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. The second word in this verse, "one," is in italics, meaning that it does not appear in the original manuscripts. KJV translators thought that "someone" told the king while other versions say that Naaman himself went and told the king. I personally prefer the KJV translation.

A Powerful Enemy King
Verse 5-6: And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
The King of Aram (Greek translated Syria in the KJV) was a powerful ruler - but it was God who gave him that power - through Naaman (see verse 1). The king apparently valued Naaman's services highly when one considers the gifts that he sent with Naaman.

A Powerless King of Israel
Verse 7: And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. One wonders who the king was talking to. Perhaps a reporter? Elisha somehow heard about it. It is not clear which king of Israel is referred to here (Ahab?), but he showed little faith in God. Although he obviously knew Elisha and was aware that God was with him, it never occurred to him that he should consult the prophet.

A Prophet in Israel
Verse 8: And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
This statement sounds almost like the prophet is arrogant. Elisha was well aware that he had no power in himself. Only God could to the mighty works that were credited to him, but the view of God in Israel, the Northern Kingdom, was so distorted that true believers had to say, "the God of Elisha." Today we have that problem with the name, "Christian."

An Impressive Visitor
Verse 9: So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. Naaman arrived with his impressive entourage at the house of Elisha, but the prophet didn't even come out to greet him! Naaman had servants at home and his wife had servants. Verses 13 and 15 speaks of many servants - perhaps a hundred. The powerful King of Aram and even the powerless King of Israel had many servants, but Elisha had only one that we know of, Gehazi. He is identified as "the" servant of Elisha in verses 19-24, but not here. The servant goes to the door and delivers a message after which Naaman becomes very angry!
Verses 10-12: And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.

Naaman needed to be humbled in order for him to meet and get to know God. That is the way it is with all of us. God says, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14)

Valued Gift Almost Refused
Naaman at first turned up his nose at God's gift, but then he listened to his servant's logic. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? (Verse 13). As he recognized the truth, he responded humbly.

We read and hear much about the great men of history, but there are also little known or anonymous individuals who just seem to be in the right place at the right time and who play an important role. The Jewish girl who served the wife of Naaman was one such person. Naaman's servants are others. The high-ranking military General is described as a "mighty man of valour," but his servants must have had great respect and admiration for his character, for they really wanted to see him healed. This shows that Naaman must have valued his servants and not just used them.

Naaman's servants appealed to logic and Naaman realized that he was wrong to have such an arrogant attitude. He was the one who needed help, yet he had almost snubbed his nose at what he wanted and needed more than anything else in the world! God had to bring him down off his high horse. Pride goes before the fall, but God responds to a humbled heart.

Verse 14: Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Most Bible teachers spend a lot of time explaining how Naaman dipped himself in the Jordan, usually depicting him pausing after each dip to inspect his skin for any change. It is usually emphasized that he was finally healed on the seventh dip. The Bible doesn't tell it like that, however. Naaman simply decided to obey and he did! The new creation or new birth is not a long process, but a simple decision to commit one's self to God. To believe and to trust him.

Valued Dirt
Verse 15-18: And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.
This is the sign of a converted person. Naaman believed in his heart, confessed with his mouth and he desired to bless the Lord's servant. He humbled himself and wanted no more part of idolatry and godlessness. At first he sneered at the dirty water of the Jordan, but now he desires to take two mule loads of that dirt back to Syria. True believers love God's chosen people and the Promised Land.

Gehazi's Payday
Verses 19-24: And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way. But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well? And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments. And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him. And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.

Elisha sought to honor God and Gehazi had the privilege of serving him, the greatest prophet of the time. Gehazi must have had great gifts and qualities for Elisha to choose him as his servant. "but Gehazi…" Gehazi's heart was turned inside out. Instead of seeking to humbly serve God, his master and others, he began to seek his own advancement, enrichment, power and the recognition of others. This is often the downfall of successful and blessed men of God. They first accept and then seek wealth, power, influence and acclaim instead of giving all the glory to God. It is interesting to note that the obedient servant was unnamed, but he now, he becomes known to all in his day and to this day for the sin of lusting for material possessions.

Verses 25-27: But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither. And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive yards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

One sin always leads to another. Gehazi lied to get what he wanted and he tried to cover his sin by telling more lies. I wonder what Gehazi did with those fancy garments. He couldn't get near other people and if he wore the clothes, they would have become unclean and thus worthless.

What might he have purchased with the two talents of silver? Elisha suggests olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, menservants and maidservants. I see a clue here, that Gehazi was unhappy being a servant, even the servant of a great prophet. He dreamed of being great and having his own servants. What a difference between Gehazi and the nameless servant girl in Naaman's house!

A Personal Note
Next week we have a pastoral candidate and a few days later we will vote. The most important thing I am looking for in a pastor is that he desires with all his heart to honor and serve God. And I hope that this would be his personal desire for each of us as believers.

Ralph V Harvey
December 4, 2016