Summary: Naaman’s servant girl was in many ways insignificant, but she pointed Naaman to God, the one who could heal him. We are called to do the same
To some of us this morning that will be a familiar event from the Bible, but for others you may have heard it for the first time. For some of you the suggestion that God heals bodies and heals hearts will be familiar; but for some of you the idea that God heals bodies and heals hearts may be a new concept.
The heroine of this Bible event from c840 BC is a young Israeli girl; a girl who had been taken captive when raiders from the King of Aram had attacked Israel (5:2). She had been wrenched from her home and her family and was now a slave in the home of Naaman. Naaman was commander of the King of Aram’s army. He was a valiant soldier, and he suffered from leprosy, a disease affecting the skin (5:1). And it is into this situation that a person of no importance in the eyes of the world speaks. An insignificant young slave girl, whose name we do not know, speaks up and the course of history changes!
I wonder who amongst us this morning feels insignificant. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old African American woman who worked as a seamstress, boarded a Montgomery City bus to go home from work. On that bus on that day, Rosa Parks initiated a new era in the American quest for freedom and equality. She sat near the middle of the bus, just behind the 10 seats reserved for whites. Soon all of the seats in the bus were filled. When a white man entered the bus, the driver (following the standard practice of segregation) insisted that all four blacks sitting just behind the white section give up their seats so that the man could sit there. Mrs. Parks quietly refused to give up her seat. Her action was spontaneous and not pre-meditated, although her previous civil rights involvement and strong sense of justice were obvious influences. She was arrested and convicted of violating the laws of segregation. Rosa Parks appealed her conviction and thus formally challenged the legality of segregation.
When Barrack Obama was elected President some people wore T-shirts saying ‘Rosa sat so that King could walk so that Obama could run’. Rosa Parks – a black African American woman- sat on a bus, so that Martin Luther King could walk in protest marches, so that Barrack Obama could run for President.
Naaman’s servant girl – an insignificant young girl in the eyes of the world – spoke up when she said to her mistress, Namaan’s wife, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his [disease]” (5:2). So often we don’t know what happens next as a result of the times when we point people in the right direction, but can I encourage you. Rosa Parks died in 2005. She didn’t get to see the day a Black American became President. When someone in their car stops to ask us for directions we may not know for sure if they reach their destination or whether they have to ask someone else. Naaman’s servant girl played her part. We all have a part to play!
“Naaman went to his master [the King of Aram] and told him what the girl from Israel had said” (5:4); and then follows the story of how the King of Aram wrote a letter to the King of Israel asking him to cure Naaman (5:6). Earlier in 2 Kings, chapter 3 (3:1-3) we are told that the Israeli King did evil in the eyes of the Lord. He was not a believer, and when he received the letter he tore his robes, thinking that The King of Aram was seeking to pick a fight with him (5:7); but God was working his purposes out! Elisha the prophet heard what happened (5:8), asked for Naaman to visit him, and then sent a messenger to say to Naaman, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan [river], and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed” (5:10). That wasn’t the answer Naaman had wanted! He was expecting at the very least to see Elisha in person, and perhaps for Elisha to wave his hand, or speak out a prayer, or do something dramatic – some demonstration of power (5:11). Sometimes Christians can be tempted to seek out demonstrations of power.
But Elisha knew that the power belonged to God, the healing would come from God, and once healed, Naaman would need to give glory to God, and not to Elisha; because God heals. We are vessels for him to use, whoever we are. God used an insignificant servant girl to set the wheels in motion, and God used Elisha to tell Naaman what he needed to do to be healed. God wants to use you to set wheels in motion.