Naaman Healed of Leprosy
5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”
So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”
But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Gehazi’s Greed and Punishment
Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the LORD. In this matter may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon your servant in this matter.” He said to him, “Go in peace.”
But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’” And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed. He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.
2 Kings 5 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Aram had been a neighbor to Israel for centuries but rarely was on friendly terms. Under David’s rule, they payed tribute to Israel for peace. Under the times of Elisha, Aram had gathered strength and frequently raided the land. Their goal in these raids was to bring about political confusion and mistrust of the people with their leadership as a nation. They also would carry back the booty of people who would become their slaves. It would be a slave girl who showed more faith than the king of Israel.
Leprosy was one of the most dreaded diseases in ancient times. Starting off as a small spot on the skin, it would grow sometimes rapidly and take over the body. Turning from a red sore, it would turn white like a shiny scale. There being no cure and highly contagious, this disease would ravage the body. Hair would fallout, fingernails and toenails become loose and rot. Then body parts would literally drop off piece by piece. The victim would actually waste away to death.
Naaman was a pagan. He was also the commander of the King of Aram. The day a spot of leprosy was discovered was the day his life would be forever altered. None of his accomplishments meant anything as he was looking down a horrific death that would come to him and his family.
It would be a slave girl who had been captured and lived with Naaman that spoke words of hope. There was a prophet in Israel who she believed could usher in healing. Naaman took off for Israel to inquire of this man.
And here we see 2 things. The first is a little girl who was in a situation against her will. Although living in tremendous sadness of being enslaved to another, having lost her parents and family she was greatly used. She had not lost her faith and in fact, became a tremendous vessel of hope with great salvation coming to this pagan man.
The second is Naaman’s initial response. Upon hearing of such a prophet – who would be Elisha – he sought permission from his king, loaded up money and set off to find him. He was so desperate to be healed and whole. As we will see, he had to wrestle down his own pride but his behavior is worth noting.
There are times, much like the little girl, we are in a situation that we would prefer not to be in. In fact, we may grieve and be so heavy of heart as there is no hope on the horizon of change. Yet, the beautiful aspect of this story is God used her in a tremendous way. She hadn’t lost faith in God despite where she was. Where do we need to hear this? What situation do we feel trapped or held against our will? Is there a possibility He has a place to use us exactly where we are?
There are other times we are in Naaman’s position. What we face is beyond anything short of a miracle of deliverance. For Naaman, he would have to humble himself but his search began with devastation and being desperate. How desperate are we for a movement of God in our life? How far are we willing to go in order to find it?
2 Kings 5 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Remember when King Ahab was shot by a “random arrow” in 1 Kings 22?
Now a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel in a joint of the armor. So he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and take me out of the fight; for I am severely wounded.”1 Kings 22:34 NASB
According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, that certain man was Naaman. He is not identified in the Bible as this man, but Jewish legend holds that it was Naaman who shot the arrow that killed King Ahab. Many believed that because of this superior accomplishment on the battlefield, Naaman was promoted to captain of the Syrian army.
Namaan was also described as an honorable man and a mighty man of valor. This was the same wording given to Gideon and David, and as far as I can tell, Namaan is the only Gentile to receive that kind glowing description.
The king of Israel was upset with Namaan’s offer. He thought that he was expected to do the healing. The king knew he couldn’t, so he tore his clothes in grief thinking that Syria would come to do war with Israel. Once again, we see an example of king Jehoram neglecting to seek the Lord or His prophets.
Faith Through Relationship
The big picture theme of this chapter is a mind focused on God versus a mind focused on self. There are four main characters – Naaman, Elisha, King Jehoram, and Gehazi. Naaman begins the story with a skin disease and by the end of the chapter he is healed. Gehazi begins the chapter in good health and by the end he is diseased.
All of these men play off of their relationships with God and each other. The depth of each relationship is what guides their decisions and ultimately their fate.
- Naaman does not have a deep relationship with God or anyone from Israel (except his slave girl) but he is willing to do whatever it takes to investigate and deepen those relationships.
- Elisha is the guiding force in this chapter. He trusts God but is not completely trusted by anyone except Naaman.
- King Jehoram does trust anyone. He doesn’t have a relationship with God or Elisha (as demonstrated by the tearing of his clothes) and he doesn’t trust that Naaman’s motives are pure.
- Though Gehazi seems to have a close relationship with Elisha, he demonstrates his lack of trust by betraying Elisha and going behind his back.
Naaman had gratitude. Elisha was trustworthy. King Jehoram lacked faith. Gehazi fell to compromise.
Every day, each of us has decisions to make. Regardless of our title (king, prophet, or servant), God is working among us in powerful ways. Consider, each person in this story had at least one opportunity to grow closer to God. Two of them did and two of them did not.
Naaman was a Gentile king and far from God’s power and mercy, but he came close and was healed. King Jehoram was a Jewish king and near to God’s power and mercy, but he closed his heart and decided to live for himself. Many decisions we make today will either drive us closer or further from the relationship we have with our God.
Who will you be in this story?