Summary: The story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5 is a powerful reminder that God is not limited by our expectations.
Naaman was past upset; past mad; past even furious - he was working on a complete emotional meltdown. Like a cartoon character - the steam seems to literally be pouring out of his ears. He stomps - he stammers - he shouts: "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy!" He had come all this way for a little bit of hocus pocus and all he has is a prophet’s prescription that says "Dip seven times in the Jordan and call me in the morning." "I have had it! I want to kill somebody!" The children scatter, the servants duck, the soldiers shudder. This is not good. To put it simply - things were not going as Naaman had expected. And he is none too happy about it.
But then again things had been downhill ever since he discovered that white blemish on his shoulder. At first he thought it was dry skin - the result of too many battles under the hot Syrian sun. But it didn’t go away when rubbed with lotion. And soon the diagnosis could not be avoided. He had leprosy! The most disfiguring, most debilitating of all skin diseases. He was doomed to slowly wither away - one piece of flesh at a time. At first he raged to his god Rimmon. It wasn’t fair. He was one of Syria’s greatest generals. A brave and valiant warrior. Personal favorite of the king himself. How could such an asset to Aram be dealt such a blow. Naaman began to make daily sacrifices to the gods pleading for their favor. But the gods mocked him with their stony stares. He soon lost his religion. And sank into a deep depression. The only comfort he found was in leading raiding parties against the Syrians age-old enemy - Israel. On one such raid he returned with a young girl of Israel whom he gave to his wife as a servant. But here was one slave who had a lesson to teach to the master!
Her name is not given. But the strength of her faith is found in her words to her mistress. "There is in Samaria, a prophet of God who could heal my master..." In spite of her captivity, she has grown to love Naaman and his wife. And that love has given her the boldness to speak of her God to one who has no love for the Lord. Perhaps, he is reduced to clutching at straws or the sincerity of the little girl’s faith strikes a chord - deep within - but Naaman leaps upon this hope. Dashing to his king, he craves a boon to visit the land of Israel and seek a cure for his dread condition. "Go" is the command of the king.
It is with renewed hope and great expectations, that Naaman and his band set out for the capital city of Jerusalem. Bearing a letter from the king of Aram to the King of Israel - Naaman is sure he will find his expected cure. Ushered into the throneroom - he presents the royal letter and steps back to wait the reply. His reception, however, is not quite what he expects. The king of Israel goes nuts. "Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? What can I do about this man’s leprosy? Is your king picking a fight or what?" Naaman is taken aback. Surely if anyone in this backward country can arrange his healing it would be the king. The fuse has been lit.
Fortunately, Elisha, the man of God, hears about the palace incident and sends word to the king to send Naaman his way. He will show this "Stormin’ Norman" that there is a prophet in Israel - who doesn’t by the way, work at the beck and call of the king. So off Naaman goes, back up the road from Jerusalem to Samaria. And as he goes along he begins to notice a definite downward turn in the class of neighborhoods he is passing through. Its beginning to look a bit like a ghetto. He smiles to himself. Surely this man of God will be impressed by the wealth I bring with me. I bet he cannot wait to get his hands on some real Syrian gold. At least enough to get out of this dumpy town.
Soon they pull up to the door of Elisha modest home. Now we’ll see some action, Naaman tells his men. Somebody go ring the doorbell. The bell rung, they sit and wait. And wait. And wait. The sun beats down, the dry wind blows, the hackles start to rise on Naaman’s neck. Finally the door opens and a weaselly little fellow peeks out the crack and says - "Here. The prophet sends his regards. Wash seven times in the Jordan and you will be clean." Which brings us back to where we began. Naaman’s nuclear meltdown. Beware the man who finds his expectations unmet. It can get very dangerous...