Naaman: Reluctant Follower

KEY VERSE: “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.” —II Kings 5:14

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: II Kings 5:1-5, 9-14

THE kingdom of Syria bordered the land of Israel. Though often at war with one another, at the time of our lesson the two nations were at peace. Naaman was the general in chief of Syria, and the account states that he was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Since leprosy is an incurable disease, Naaman and his family were despondent because of the certain ignominious demise of one so great and powerful. But a servant in their household, a little Jewish girl who was brought away captive in a previous war, remembered about the great prophet of God, Elisha. She suggested to Naaman’s wife that he visit this prophet who possessed such great healing power.

Naaman conferred with the king of Syria who wrote to the king of Israel and requested that he arrange to cure Naaman. This, of course, upset the king of Israel because for the moment he had forgotten about the Prophet Elisha. When the prophet heard of the circumstances, he advised the king to send Naaman to him. In time Naaman arrived at the home of the prophet with a great entourage of servants and soldiers. It was obvious that the great man expected Elisha to come out and pay obeisance to him, but the prophet simply sent word to him to go down to the river Jordan, “and wash … seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.”—II Kings 5:10

Naaman felt that he was being slighted and not treated with the proper respect, and he was therefore angry. Furthermore, the instructions Elisha gave were not in accordance with the pomp and ceremony that Naaman expected. He 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.” (II Kings 5:11) He could see no reason for the prophet’s instructions. Were not the waters in Syria much better than those of the Jordan? But his servants came to 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 said to thee, Wash and be clean.” (vs. 13) With that, Naaman decided to follow the prophet’s instructions, and after he had washed seven times in the waters of the Jordan, his flesh became whole and he was cured of the leprosy.

Naaman returned to the Prophet Elisha and offered to give him the gifts that he had brought, but Elisha refused them in order that Naaman might be impressed with the fact that the prophet was only the agency the Lord had used in the performance of the miracle. The general was converted to believe in God, and received instructions from the prophet on how he should conduct himself in the presence of heathen idols and those who worshiped them. And before leaving he took soil from Israel (because he considered it to be holy) upon which he intended to build an altar unto the Lord in his own land of Syria.

In the Bible, leprosy is a symbol of sin. Sin like leprosy is incurable, except by God’s power and the arrangements he has specified. The first of these requirements is an attitude of humility and submissiveness on the part of the sinner if he would have his sins forgiven. The sinner must accept and have faith in the only arrangement God has provided for the remission of sins, and that is the blood of Christ. When the sinner is made clean by the application of the blood of Christ, the Lord expects that “they which live [or are made clean—justified] should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”—II Cor. 5:15

Those who are given the privilege and responsibility of being the instrumentality the Lord uses, are not to profit from their ministry, but, according to the Scriptures, they are entitled only to the necessities of life. The words of the Apostle Paul are appropriate. “What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the Gospel. For though I be free from [the power of] all men, yet have I made myself servant to all.”—I Cor. 9:18,19

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |