Summary: Naaman has just told Elisha that he will be going back to his Pagan land and will visit a temple of the god Rimmon. He will bow down right smack in the midst of active idol worship in the temple. Wow! Elisha said, "go in peace" to that?
Read: 2 Kings 5:19
“Go in peace,” Elisha said.
Here we find one of the greatest miracles of the Bible. Naaman is healed of Leprosy. It is a feel good story that makes us all warm and fuzzy inside. We can read it, feel blessed, and move right along to the next story when Elisha causes an axe head to float, right? Wrong! Samaria, we have a problem!
We find here a phrase in Scripture that we might read over without giving it too much thought. Elisha simply says, “Go in peace.” It may seem, at first, the phrase “go in peace” is just a really wonderful thing to say to someone. We could go on without any further thought about it. The Apostle Paul once challenged the phrase, “go in peace,” but at that time it was when pagans spoke it to him after they gave him a wrongful beating and then tried to send him quietly on his way. (Acts 16:36)
Here we find the phrase “go in peace” spoken by Elisha, the great man of God. Elisha is the prophet who did more miracles than anyone, except Jesus. We would not ordinarily call to question Elisha the man of God but here Elisha’s use of the phrase, “go in peace” seems really out of place.
Elisha has just spoken these words to the army commander of Aram. This Aram army commander has been a fierce invader of Israel. The Aram army that Naaman commands is the army that killed the father of the reigning king of Israel.
Naaman the army commander has just traveled to Israel, not for invasions, but to receive healing from the prophet of God. Praise God, It happened! Naaman has just been healed of leprosy and has also embraced God, the true Jehovah God. So far so good! By all means Naaman, “go in peace.” But wait, Naaman has just told Elisha that he will be going back to his Pagan land and will be visiting a Pagan temple of the god Rimmon and that he will bow down right smack in the midst of active idol worship in the temple. Wow! He is going to bow down in the temple of an idol. Elisha has told Naaman, “go in peace,” in response to that?
Let’s back up and try to find out more of what is going on here so we can really understand why, in this circumstance, Elisha would tell Naaman “go in peace.” Here is how the scripture describes Naaman to us, “Now Naaman was a commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.” (II Kings 5:1)
Here was a man that had so much honor poured onto him. He was a victorious commander of his nations army. Naaman had the favor of the king, and no doubt the respect of his whole nation. But something was robbing Naaman of his great honor. It was the dreaded disease of Leprosy. This leprosy could take Naaman from the heights to the depths, from honor to disgrace. Naaman needed healing! He needed a miracle of God to save him.
Naaman’s leprosy made him open to anything or anyone who might help him rid himself of this affliction. The suggestion for help came from a very unlikely source. The servant girl of Naaman’s wife had a suggestion. She believed she knew who could help Naaman. The irony is that this servant came to Aram from Israel as a captive from the raiding bands of Aram into Israel.
Here was a servant girl in Aram who must have had a remarkable faith in God to be able to suggest a cure for Naaman’s leprosy. If only Naaman would see the prophet in Israel he would cure him. The idea that Naaman’s wife and even Naaman would listen to such a suggestion from a servant girl highlights just how desperate Naaman was. It also speaks to how this servant girl must have had a kind of sustaining faith that made her suggestion seem like it just might be credible.
Naaman went to the king of Aram with this suggestion. The king was positive toward the idea of the servant girl from Israel. The king of Aram sent Naaman, but he did not go to the prophet of Samaria who the servant girl suggested. Naaman went instead, taking a massive amount of silver and gold, to the king of Israel.
Really, what does Joaram, king of Israel know about the Lord? His mother Jezebel and father Ahab had left him a heritage with the gods of Baal. King Joaram did not follow the gods of Baal, but he exchanged Baal for other pagan gods. He was hardly the person Naaman needed in a time like this. He is recorded as a king who “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”