Lessons From Naaman
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.
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.
And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
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.
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.
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.
So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
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.
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?
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.
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. (II Kings 5:1-15)
The story of Naaman has many lessons for us today. We read in these verses that Naaman was the commander-in-chief of the Syrian army; a man with both power and authority. He led his troops to many glorious victories, so he must have been a great strategist, with intellectual and logical abilities. By earthly standards, Naaman was a man at his peak: he had wordly abilities, fame, respect and authority.
However, Naaman had a big problem. He had leprosy. In that day and time, leprosy was an incurable disease, requiring total isolation from everyone, for fear of spreading the dreadful disease.
It's hard to be a leader when you have to be isolated from everyone. Can you imagine Naaman's distress? He was a highly respected man at the peak of his career, with important obligations and responsibilities, looked up to and obeyed by those under his command. Just imagine being in his position, then to be stricken with a terrible and highly contagious disease.
Among those who had been taken captive by the Syrian army was a young girl who had been given to Naaman's wife as a slave. The young slave girl, perhaps feeling compassion for her master's illness, told her mistress that the prophet in Samaria (which was Elisha) could heal Naaman if Naaman would go see him.
Naaman, perhaps desperate for healing, went to his king, and receieved permission to travel to Israel to see this prophet Elisha. Not only did the king give him permission, but also gave him a letter of introduction to the king of Israel. The letter introduced Naaman as a faithful servant,
and asked that he be healed of his leprosy. Naaman started out on his journey, bearing gifts of gold, silver, and clothing to give either as payment for or in exchange for his healing.
The king of Israel wasn't too impressed with Naaman's letter. In fact, he was quite upset, thinking that this was a trick the Syrians were using as an excuse to invade Israel again. Elisha quickly reassured the king, however. He told the king, "Just send him to me, and then he will learn that there is a true prophet of God here in Israel." (v. 8)
When Naaman arrived at Elisha's house, after visiting the king of Israel. Elisha sent a messenger
out to tell Naaman to go wash himself seven times in the Jordan River and he would be healed. That would seem to be simple enough, or perhaps too simple, for this angered Naaman very much
and he stalked away, fuming.
Naaman fumed because Elisha hadn't even come out and spoken to him personally, but only sent a servant with a message. He fumed because he expected Elisha to perform some sort of rite or ritual,
waving his hand over him and calling upon the Lord to heal him. Naaman fumed because he was told to wash in the Jordon river, when Syria had much finer rivers to bathe in. In fact, just like all
of us tend to do, the more Naaman thought about it, the more he worked himself up into a rage.
His officers tried to reason with him, saying "Look, you would've done any great and difficult thing the prophet would have asked you, so why not just go ahead and obey him when he has told
you to do something so simple?" So Naaman finally obeyed, and went and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan river. And when he did, he was healed, and his flesh became as healthy and
undiseased as that of a little child.
So, what can we learn today from these few verses of Scripture?
- GOD CAN USE ANYONE, GREAT OR LOWLY, IF WE ARE JUST WILLING TO SPEAK UP.
Please notice that this miracle of healing came about because of the faithful witness of a young Israeli girl who had been taken captive and given as a slave to Naaman's wife. a young girl, a foreigner and of little value except as a servant. She could have easily kept quiet and let Naaman suffer the curse of leprosy. She didn't have to tell Mrs. Naaman anything. But her faith in the Almighty God and his prophet Elisha was so strong, she could not remain silent!
We do not have to be of great standing, highly educated, well read and well respected to be witnesses of God's love, His grace, and yes, even His healing. We just have to be willing to speak
up. That's all it takes.
- WEALTH, HONOR, FAME, AND RICHES ARE NO PROTECTION AGAINST THE TROUBLES OF LIFE.
Often we think if we only had more money or a better job or something else, we won't have the problems we now suffer with. But troubles happen to everyone; there is no getting away from it. Jesus himself said "In the world ye shall have tribulation: (anguish, burdens, troubles,
persecution) but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Note that He said you "shall" have. The original Greek word means "must needs have" or "of necessity". In other words,
our Lord himself said that troubles are a necessary part of life, and are no respecter of persons: they affect everyone, no matter how great or how lowly.
- SOMETIMES GOD DOESN'T WORK THE WAY WE EXPECT, BUT HE IS STILL WORKING!
Naaman got angry because the prophet Elisha didn't operate the way he expected him to. In fact, Elisha didn't even pay him the courtesy of personally coming out to see him, but only sent out a messenger with instructions. Surely there must be some rite or ritual to this healing business- a visible sign of something happening.
This is very important, because sometimes we can miss God working because He doesn't work the way we expect. But the Bible says God's ways are so much higher than our ways, and His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts. We try to fit God into a little box that we can understand, but we can never fully comprehend the workings of the Almighty God! We want to see signs of God working, so that we know He is doing something. But true faith is the certainty that He is at work
in our lives, even when we do not see any signs of Him working.
- DON'T LET YOUR EGO GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR MIRACLE!
Naaman left Elisha's house in anger, and continued to fuss and fume until he worked himself up into a great rage, as we mentioned earlier. Don't we do the very same thing sometimes? But the root of the problem is Naaman's pride: He didn't think Elisha showed him the proper respect, or the personal attention he deserved.
How many times are we guilty of thinking that God isn't hearing our prayers, because He doesn't answer the way we want Him to or the way we think He should. We don't feel like we are getting God's personal attention that our problem deserves. Thinking that we are deserving of anything
is nothing but pride. And we all know that pride is a sin.
- DON'T TRY TO MAKE COMPLICATED WHAT GOD HAS MADE SIMPLE.
Far too often, we try to make things far more complicated than what they really are. If God doesn't it complicated, why should we? Even the simple gift of salvation, one that is so simple
even a child can receive it, is ours for simply accepting the gift Christ gave us. Yet we try to complicate it with so many rules and regulations, with so many "thou shalt's" and "thou shalt
not's", making our own man-made requirements for salvation. And all along, all we have to do is believe, and receive!
It's far too simple for our minds to comprehend that the greatest gift of
all is not one that we can ever earn by our deeds, or ever be good enough to deserve.
- GOD REQUIRES OUR OBEDIENCE!
Finally, we have to do what God tells us to do in order to receive His greatest blessings. Too many times we want His blessings without our obedience, and it just isn't going to work that
way. God isn't going to bless our plans and efforts if we aren't willing to humble ourselves and do what He says.
Often we try to fool ourselves with thinking something along these lines: "Well, I might fudge
just a little bit in these little things that don't really matter, but when it comes to the big things, I know I will be obedient." That's a terrible self deception! If we will not obey Him in even simple little things, God knows we will not be obedient in big things, either. Every blessing in the Bible requires obedience.
Although the book of Second Kings was written hundreds of years ago, it is still applicable to our lives today. We know that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." (II Tim. 3:16) God's Holy Word is true for all generations, and will endure for all eternity. Read for yourself the story of Naaman, and ask God to open your eyes to His eternal truths today.