1 “Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.
3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said.
5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing.
6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy,” 2 Kings 5:1-6
Naaman was quite the man. Verse one tells us that he was “a great man” in the sight of the King of Syria and as well he was “highly regarded” by the people of the kingdom. He was a leading general through whom the “Lord had given victory” and “a valiant soldier”. But there was a problem in Naaman’s life—he had leprosy.
It always amazes me that people can seem to be on top of their game in this thing called life and then boom, out of no where tragedy strikes. That is what happened to Naaman. One moment he was one of the most celebrated people in all of Syria and the next moment he is an outcast with an infectious disease that made him an outsider and feared.
Naaman’s destiny now consisted in being cast out of the community, shunned by family and friends and living a life of isolation, desperation, and misery. How desperate was Naaman? He was so frantic that he took advice from a young slave girl. According to verse two she was a young girl who had been captured out of Israel by a group of Syrian raiders and she ended up serving Naaman’s wife.
This little eleven or twelve year old slave girl, snatched away from her homeland, and now a servant in the home of Naaman is the real hero of the story. We don’t know for sure, but theologians speculate that it is possible that her family was killed in the raid and it may well have been Naaman who led the raid.
Now this man who has brought her slavery, misery, separation from her nation and may have killed her family has leprosy. Oh the justice of it all. But, this little slave girl is better than that and instead of gleefully rubbing her hands together in delight she goes to her mistress and declares, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” (v. 2)
She is the hero of the story but she only has this one line in the whole unfolding story that eventually leads to Naaman being cleansed by God. But, if we think about this girl for just a moment we will notice something wonderful about her. She is a suffering servant who, instead of having hatred towards Naaman, she shows him love and compassion. She could have kept secret about there being a prophet in Israel who could cure him, but she didn’t. She told her mistress who told her husband who believed the girl.
You’ve probably recognized a type of Jesus in the girl, the suffering servant who forgives those who have done wrong. The God of the universe who freely returns mercy, grace, hope and restoration to those who deserve the ravishes of sin. The nameless little servant girl points the way to salvation.
It is one thing to be told that a prophet in Israel can cure Naaman and a whole different thing for Naaman to act upon it. Think about this for a moment. Syria and Israel are constantly at war. Israel is the enemy the place where Naaman raids, kills, captures and destroys. But he is desperate, so he gathers an unbelievable tribute of silver (750 lbs.) and gold (150 lbs.), and he goes to make restitution for the evil he has done.
The story unfolds in the next nine verses, but the climax takes place when the prophet Elisha tells Naaman to go down into the Jordan River and submerge himself seven times in the water. Naaman is furious because it seems so simple a thing to do and at first he refuses. “But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?’ So he turned and went off in a rage.” 2 Kings 5:11, 12
But Naaman’s servants weren’t impressed with his rash decision; “Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 2 Kings 5:13
God doesn’t require silver and gold or great feats of valor in order to restore us. He simply says, “wash and be cleansed”, the same words He said to Naaman. The question is when God speaks are we willing to hear, listen and follow through on those word.
“So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy,” 2 Kings 5:14 When Naaman went into the water, in a figurative sense, he was baptized into Christ. He was simply responding to what God, through Elisha, had told him to do. The suffering servant made it all possible, Elisha pointed the way, and the Father restored him in the waters of the Jordan.
I love how verse 14 ends, Naaman’s flesh “became clean like that of a young boy.” He was born again in a very real sense. After his encounter with God Naaman was restored and rejuvenated to a greater well being than he had had before the leprosy.
Next post we will pick up on Naaman’s response to this healing and cleansing. We will see the marks of a true Christian and how a so-called religious man can be further away from God than a man like Naaman.
* Folks, the persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…