Summary: I wonder what Naaman felt after he had dipped himself for the 6th time in the Jordan and nothing had happened
The story of the healing of Naaman - 2 Kings 5: 1-19
My old Chaplain in Basle, Tom Roberts used to say that when you are stumped for a Bible passage to preach on use the story of Naaman. So for once, I’m doing as I am told!
1. Naaman was the commander in chief of the King of Aram’s army. He was a very successful man but he had a serious problem - he was a leper. One of the little girls that had been taken captive was serving Naaman’s wife and told Naaman’s wife that the prophet in Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel could cure him of his disease.
So Naaman asked permission of the King of Aram to go and consult with the Prophet. However the King of Aram sent Naaman to the wrong person, King of Israel, for healing and not the prophet. The King of Israel (being the weaker king) was terrified. "How can I cure people."
Isn’t it interesting that when we have a serious problem we don’t stop to talk to God first.
When Elisha the prophet heard about it , he said to the King of Israel: "Send Naaman to me".
So Naaman sets off to find the Prophet, with all his horses and chariots. So Naaman goes to the Prophet and comes to the front door where Elisha’s servant Gehazi tells Naaman:
“Sorry, mate the Prophet won’t see you now. He says: ‘Just go and wash in the Jordan seven times and you will be healed’.”
Naaman is none too pleased to be palmed off like this and fumes: You’ve gotta be kidding, who does this bozo think he is! I expected him to come out to me and call upon the Name of His God and I would be healed.
Anyway, that filthy stream is nothing to the two mighty rivers of Aram, the Abana and Pharphar.
However his servants argued with him: “If the prophet had asked you to do something spectacular you would have done it. Well all he has said is wash in the Jordan seven times. What have you got to lose?” Naaman then goes to the Jordan and puts his foot into the water: It’s cold.
I wonder what Naaman thought as he went six times down in the water and nothing happened. But on the seventh time: Bingo: He was healed.
Naaman went back to the Prophet and said: Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. He is so grateful that he offers the offers the prophet a gift but the prophet refuses to take it: “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve I will not accept it.”
Naaman then asks to take two mule loads of earth so that he can offer sacrifice to the God of Israel and none other. He wants to start a new life serving God. However his job requires him to bow down at times to the false god Rimmon and so he asks for an exemption:
“When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also- when I bow down in the Temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.”
“Go in peace”, Elisha said.
You see when Naaman experienced the hand of God on him
IT CHANGED HIM FOREVER
1. So who was Naaman?
He was a Syrian military man, who was a very rich and successful man, he had servants and slaves. He was the Commander-in-chief of the King of Aram’s army and was probably also the Prime Minister. He was not one of God’ people Israel , yet we read in v. 1 that through him God had given victory to Aram.
2. How did Naaman find out about Elisha?
Interestingly it was a little girl to whom Naaman and his wife listened. For her, there wasn’t anything God could not do. Although there were no precedents, she really believed God would heal Naaman.
Jesus in Luke 4:27 says: And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet yet not one of them was cleansed - only Naaman the Syrian."
We as Christians can stand by faith. As Paul puts it: “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:2)
It has always struck me as strange that this powerful general would even listen to her, instead of patting her on the head and saying: "Silly little girl, what do you know about real life". Or "yes, yes dear, I’m quite sure your prophet can do it" and then conveniently have forgotten about it.
Something in her life must have made her believable. Don’t underestimate what God can do with our witness, even if we think we are insignificant in the wolrd’s eyes. We aren’t in God’s.