Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 29 2019 - 2 Kings 5 – Naaman

A few days ago we were reading of how Ahab, king of Israel, persuaded Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to join him in his war against the king of Aram. Today we are reading of Naaman, the decorated commander of the king of Aram's army who had gained victories against Israel. We are told that it was the Lord who gave him those victories; the Lord was waging war against his idolatrous and disobedient people. But Naaman had leprosy. It must have affected his whole household as he was required to keep himself away from human contact.

A young Israelite girl had been captured in one of the Aramean raids. Naaman had given her to his wife as a servant. We can imagine the distress of this girl who had been snatched from her family – some of whom may even have been killed. She is now living in an enemy home, having to learn a foreign language and do the bidding of the mistress of this household. But this girl not only has faith in the Lord her God, she also feels compassion for her master. She tells her mistress, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy" (v. 3).

Naaman is told the girl's words but cannot travel into enemy territory to seek help from his enemy's God without the king's permission. Hearing what the girl had said, the king of Aram wrote a letter to the king of Israel asking him to cure Naaman of his leprosy. The letter was given to Naaman, along with a vast amount of gold, silver and royal clothing. The king of Israel saw this as a scheme to resume war against his kingdom, but Elisha tells the king to send Naaman to him.

When Naaman arrives at Elisha's house, the prophet does not even come to meet him but sends a messenger to tell him to go and wash seven times in the river Jordan and he will be healed. Initially Naaman is angry saying that the rivers of Damascus are better than all the waters of Israel. But his servants persuade him to obey the prophet's instructions, and Naaman is completely cured.

Naaman returns to Elisha's house and this time Elisha meets him. Naaman tells him, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel" (v. 15); he is convinced of the power of the living God for he has experienced it for himself. Elisha refuses any payment for his services – God's gifts are given freely. But Naaman requests some Israelite soil to take back with him to Aram so that he can worship the Lord, the God of Israel. He is aware that he cannot avoid state worship so he asks that when he enters the temple of their god, Rimmon, on his master's arm, "may the Lord forgive your servant for this" (v. 18). Elisha tells him to "Go in peace."

I want to focus on the simple testimony of this young servant girl, plucked from home and family. She not only trusts in the living God for herself, she tells her needy captors of God's power. And her testimony is repeated even in the courts of a foreign king. Her testimony results in Naaman's cleansing. How might our testimony to the saving power of God in the Lord Jesus Christ be used to point others to him and to discover for themselves his saving power?

Secondly, I want us to notice how Elisha deals with the new-found faith of Naaman which seems to be mixed with superstition and the danger of compromise. Elisha commits Naaman to the grace of God and tells him to go in peace. The God who has saved him will be able to keep him. Who knows what blessing Naaman may have brought not only to his household but to others as a result of his faith – and all because of the simple testimony of a young servant girl?

Father God, help us to live by faith in you and in confident assurance that we are yours because Christ has died for us and is raised for us. May we never be ashamed to speak to others of your saving power, but use our testimony to encourage them to discover for themselves your power to touch and transform their lives. Give us wisdom in counselling those who are young in the faith that we may encourage them to go on trusting in your goodness and mercy. Keep us from coveting those things that would lead us away from you; help us to keep ourselves from idols.

Peter Misselbrook