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Summary: Gehazi

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MORE LIKE THE MASTER (2 KINGS 5:19-27)

The six most important words in the English language are:

“I admit I made a mistake.”

The five most important words in the English language are:

“You did a good job.”

The four most important words in the English language are:

“What is your opinion?”

The three most important words in the English language are:

“If you please.”

The two most important words in the English language are:

“Thank you.”

The one most important word in the English language is:

“We.”

The least important word in the English language is:

“I.”

Elisha the prophet was an extraordinary prophet and he had a very interesting servant by the name of Gehazi. The last chapter featured a slighted, shameless and shocked Gehazi who tried to turn away (2 Kings 4:27) the Shunammite woman grabbing the prophet by the feet and seeking him to revive his dead son. Elisha responded by sending Gehazi to lay the prophet’s staff upon the face of the child to wake the boy, except the boy did not recover (2 Kings 4:31), so Elisha had to himself do the healing, to the shock and shame of the servant. Then Naaman came along and the downfall of the temperamental, testy and troubled servant was complete.

What are your motives of serving? How is your attitude when you are slighted, snubbed or shamed? Why is selflessness and steadfastness required of all God’s servants, regardless the task or treatment?

Be Gracious, Not Grudging

19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said. After Naaman had traveled some distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” (2 Kings 5:19-20)

“I am delighted to meet you,” said the father of the college student, shaking hands warmly with the professor. “My son took algebra from you last year, you know.”

“Pardon me,” said the professor, “he was exposed to it, but he did not take it.” (More Toasts, Gertrude Stein)

Gehazi is synonymous with disobedience, dishonesty, discontent and dissatisfaction. The phrase “GO in peace,” with “go” in the imperative mood uttered by Elsiha, would have settled and sealed the story of Naaman in the most beautiful way, but not to the discontented and displeased servant Gehazi. The same imperatival usage was formerly given as a blessing and a benediction from a father-in-law (Ex 4:18, Jethro to Moses), from a priest (Judg 18:6), from a judge (1 Sam 1:17, Eli), from a friend (1 Sam 20:42, Jonathan), and from a king (1 Sam 29:7). It was a perfect end to an exhausting, encouraging and excellent day. However, there was no peace in Gehazi, who spoke to himself (v 20), ran after Gehazi (v 20) and took his share. The benediction and blessing “GO in peace” was the definitive, direct and decisive and departing and demanding way to close, celebrate and commend the case.

The first thing we know about Gehazi was his status. He was introduced in the Bible six times as “servant” – twice as “Gehazi his servant” (2 Kings 4:12, 25), and once for “servant of Elisha the man of God” (2 Kings 5:20), “thy servant” (2 Kings 5:25), “servant of the man of God” (2 Kings 6:15), and “Gehazi the servant of the man of God” (2 Kings 8:4). Further, Gehazi addressed Elisha as “my master” twice (vv 20, 22) and Elisha was called “his master” once (2 Kings 5:25). As servant he was not in the position to change, correct, challenge or confront his master. His job was to act as go-between, carry out orders, get things done, please his master and lighten his load.

When the healed, humbled and happy Naaman left, Gehazi had a heavy dose of remorse. The verb “too easy/spare” (v 20) is translated elsewhere in the KJV as withheld (Gen 20:6), kept back (Gen 39:9), held back (2 Sam 18:16), spare (2 Kings 5:20), refrain (Job 7:11), assuage (Job 16:5), reserved

(Job 21:30), forbear (Prov 24:11), hinder (Isa 14:6). He felt that Naaman was let off the hook too lightly, without rhyme, reason or remuneration. Some sort of repayment, reward and reimbursement were justified. Not only could Naaman could afford to pay, he was a Gentile, a captain and an invader who departed too easy, scot-free with no cost attached.

Gehazi’s disrespectful and disparaging phrase “Naaman this Aramean” (v 20) was a departure from Naaman’s lofty and lowly status, lofty by man’s standards as previously he was “Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria” (2 Kings 5:1, and lowly because the king called him “Naaman my servant” (2 Kings 5:6), but Naaman was never previously discriminated or despised.

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