Naaman – The condition and the cure
Character in a time of crisis ( day 37)
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, but he had leprosy. 2 Kings 5:1
Naaman, the Syrian general, was well thought of and held high office, and would almost certainly have been close to the king. But that didn’t change the fact that he was still a Leper. He would never get better, and eventually, he would die of this painful and debilitating condition. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law Murdo and Rachel Macdonald worked in Anadaban leprosy hospital in Nepal a few years ago. I remember Murdo giving a talk on how difficult everyday life is for leprosy patients. He used the illustration of attempting to open bottles and jars while wearing boxing gloves to show the damage caused by leprosy can make the simplest everyday tasks very difficult.
I can give a quick summary of the verses at the beginning of 2 Kings 5. As a result of the imploring of the slave girl ( vs 3), Naaman goes with his king’s approval to Israel ( vs 4-6) to ask for the help. This is much to the consternation of King Joram of Israel, who feels as if a gun is being pointed to his head ( vs 7)
Elisha, however, sees things differently from the king, he discerns things spiritually. Elisha, as I said yesterday, may not seem to figure much in these verses But the faith that is greater than circumstances is very apparent once again in Elisha. (vs 8) The reason for this happening is for God to be glorified (vs 8b). If we took the time to get to know the will of God more, I believe we see how even the most awkward and unpromising of circumstances can be God’s doing. Elisha is in tune with what God is saying to him and gives Naaman a prescription he has to follow.
Yet it becomes apparent that leprosy was not Naaman’s only problem! His pride surfaces very quickly with a couple of outbursts. Naaman came with pomp with chariots and horses (vs 9), but Elisha didn’t bother going to see him! We can imagine the wounded pride of Naaman “why didn’t he come to see me? Does he not know who I am ?” Maybe the pride goes with the territory of being a high-ranking general. However, God’s word warns repeatedly against this sin, which has destroyed the life and testimony of so many;
“Though the LORD is on high Yet He regards the lowly;
But the proud He knows from afar. Psalms 138:6
Naaman’s temper isn’t helped by Elisha, suggesting he wash seven times in the River Jordan (vs 12). Naaman knows the rivers of Damascus ( Abana & Pharpar are cleaner ). The rivers of Damascus ran clear from snow-covered mountains, the Jordan although much longer, meandered slowly through Palestine & was much cloudier. Maybe his pride is personal, institutional or even geographical! But as is often the case pride has to be swallowed.
Yet Naaman should be thankful for the wise counsel of his servants. They are sensible and wise when their master is not, and they give him this prudent advice
“My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash and be clean’?” ( vs 13)
Thankfully for Naaman, he heeded their advice and was healed of his leprosy
So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 2 Kings 5:14
The account of Naaman shows that on more than once occasion, he is dependant of the faith and counsel of others, even his slaves and servants. Our world would be a better and safer place today if some of the world’s political leaders would take heed of the wise counsel of others. Paul puts it like this;
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17