Summary: How a young maiden changed the life of Namaan
A Maidens Witness
Today I would like to talk about the power of a witness. Not just any witness, but a slave in a land of pagans. Not just any slave, but a female adolescent. In the ancient world of the Old Testament a female child had as much importance and power as a lowly ant. Slim to none in the land of men. Yet, this child stood up to be counted when necessary and in the process changed the life of a very powerful man and made an impression on a nation.
In the army of Aram was a powerful man by the name of Namaan. He was the commander of the army. As you all are aware a commander will give orders and expect them to be obeyed. If his orders are not obeyed he has the privilege of administering justice on the offending party. The commander of the army is use to certain privileges and he has certain expectations. When he walks into the room everyone of a lesser rank will stand and salute. In other words Namaan was a person that expected things to be done his way without question and he had the power to ensure his orders were obeyed.
Being the commander of the army is impressive enough. Yet, Namaan was also powerful based on the company he kept. He was a friend, counselor and confidant of the king. The king of Aram leaned on Namaan both figuratively and literally. It is supposed by some theologians that the king of Aram was advanced in age and needed the literal support of Namaan to move around his palace and his kingdom.
Namaan, a powerful man. A mighty man. He has a whole army at his command. He has the fortune to have a king as a friend. Yet, Namaan was powerless over one thing. He had a disease.
A disease that could cost him his command.
A disease that could cost him the friendship of his king.
A disease that could cost him the comfort and love of his family.
A disease that could knock him off his pedestal of power and prestige and ostracize him from society. Namaan had leprosy.
This disease, this condition, this affliction of the skin, could cost him everything he had and everything he was. Despite his riches, his power, his fame, this disease did not answer to him. Namaan was helpless in the face of this condition. Oh sure, he could hide his disease behind his armor in battle. He could cover it up with bluster in front of his enemies. But at the end of the day he knew he had this disease and he knew that eventually he could not hide his condition. He also knew that eventually the little spot presently on his skin would grow and ultimately kill him.
However, despite this knowledge he continued to serve his king. He led his army on successful raids and battles. According to the writer of 2Kings Namaan was even an instrument of God for it was Namaan that fired the arrow that killed King Ahab.
On one of the skirmishes between the army of Aram, modern day Syria, several prisoners were taken. One of these prisoners was a young maiden that Namaan placed in his household to serve as a handmaiden for his wife. This young woman was a Hebrew.
Now consider her situation. She is a slave. She is a woman. She is a Jew. She is in the household of one of the most powerful men in Aram. Exactly what kind of power or influence could she expect to have in this household? She is considered so insignificant we are not even told her name. If you were in her situation would you be willing to speak up and offer your opinion?
Or give advice?
Or witness for your God?
This young woman is thrust into this forbidding situation and left to adapt on her own. She is given the job of being the servant for the masters wife. In this role she would hear of the comings and goings of the master. She would learn of the concerns and desires of the wife. She would also learn of the terrible disease that her master has and all of his attempts to find a cure. One day, she dares to open her mouth and tell the masters wife that she knows someone that could cure the wife’s husband.
After all the fruitless attempts that Namaan had made to be cured of this disease I imagine that his wife was pretty skeptical of what this Jewish maiden was saying. I could her Namaan’s wife scornfully tell the young maiden that there was no such thing as a cure. I could hear her saying that she would not allow her husband to be subjected to some voodoo medicine man! But the young maiden would not be deterred. She pleads with her masters wife and finally convinces her.