2 Kings 5:1-9
Naaman comes to Elisha.
1. (1) Naaman’s problem.
Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper.
a. Namaan, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man: Naaman was the chief military commander of a persistent enemy to both Israel and Judah. As recently as the days of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, Syria had fought and won against Israel (1 Kings 22:35-36). His position and success made him a great and honorable man, and personally he was a mighty man of valor.
i. This same title was applied to Gideon (Judges 6:12), Jephthah (Judges 11:1), David (1 Samuel 16:18), Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:28), and Eliada (2 Chronicles 17:17). It seems that this is the only specific Gentile mentioned as a mighty man of valor.
ii. According to Jewish legends, “The Rabbins tell us that it was he [Naaman] who shot the arrow wherewith Ahab was slain.” (Trapp)
b. But a leper: Naaman had a lot going for him, but what he had against him was devastating. He was a leper, which meant that he had a horrible, incurable disease that would slowly result in his death. No matter how good and successful everything else was in Naaman’s life, he was a leper.
i. “Here was a heavy tax upon his grandeur; he was afflicted with a disorder the most loathsome and the most humiliating that could possibly disgrace a human being.” (Clarke)
ii. Ancient leprosy began as small, red spots on the skin. Before too long the spots get bigger, and start to turn white, with sort of a shiny, or scaly appearance. Pretty soon the spots spread over the whole body and hair begins to fall out – first from the head, then even from the eyebrows. As things get worse, finger nails and toenails become loose; they start to rot and eventually fall off. Then the joints of fingers and toes begin to rot and fall off piece by piece. Gums begin to shrink and they can’t hold the teeth anymore, so each of them is lost. Leprosy keeps eating away at your face until literally the nose, the palate, and even the eyes rot – and the victim wastes away until death.
2. (2-3) The testimony from the servant girl.
And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.”
a. Had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel: This girl was an unwilling missionary, taken captive from Israel and now in Syria. Yet God allowed the tragedy of her captivity to accomplish a greater good.
i. The young girl illustrates the mysterious ways God works. She was probably raised in a godly home, yet taken from her family at a young age. It was an irreplaceable loss for her parents, and one they no doubt grieved over every day. Yet, she was greatly used in a simple way.
b. If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! This young girl was an outstanding example of a faithful witness in her current circumstance. She cared enough to speak up, and she had faith enough to believe that Elisha would heal him of his leprosy.
i. “And see the benefits of a religious education! Had not this little maid been brought up in the knowledge of the true God, she had not been the instrument of so great a salvation.” (Clarke)
3. (4-7) Naaman comes to the king of Israel looking for healing.
And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel.” Then the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy. And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.”
a. Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel: Considering the record of wars between Israel and Syria described in the previous chapters, it seems strange that the king of Syria would send a letter of recommendation with his General Naaman. It seems that 2 Kings is not necessarily arranged chronologically, so this probably occurred during a time of lowered tension between Israel and Syria.
i. And took with him ten talents of silver . . .: Dilday estimates that Naaman took more than $1.2 million with him to Israel. All this together shows how desperate Naaman’s condition was, and how badly the King of Syria wanted to help him.
b. I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy: When the king of Israel (Jehoram) read the letter, he was understandably upset. First, it was obviously out of his power to heal Naaman’s leprosy. Second, he had no relationship with the prophet of the God who did have the power to heal. He thought the king of Syria sought a quarrel.
i. The king of Syria assumed that the king of Israel was on a much better relationship with Elisha than he really was. It is easy for others to assume that we have a better relationship with God than we really do.
4. (8-9) Naaman comes to Elisha’s house.
So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house.
a. Why have you torn your clothes? Elisha gave a gentle rebuke to the king of Israel. “This is a crisis to you, because you have no relationship with the God who can heal lepers. But it is a needless crisis, because you could have relationship with this God.”
b. Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel: Naaman would never know there was a prophet is Israel by hanging around the royal palace. The true prophet in Israel wasn’t welcome at the palace.
© 2006 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission