What do we know about Naaman? (2 Kings 5:1)
[A] He was a captain of the army of the king of Aram (Syria).
[B] He was a great man with his master, the king of Aram (Ben-hadad), and highly respected by the people (probably because of his military exploits).
[C] He had been used by the Lord to bring victory in battle to Aram.
[D] “But he was a leper.” Lepers were not excluded from society in Syria as in Israel. Naaman must have been in the earliest stages of the disease. There was no known cure for leprosy in Naaman’s day (nor is there a cure today).
Note: Naaman was plagued by the conjunction, “but.” Many people today are plagued by the same conjunction: “He is a nice person but. . .” or “She is a good housekeeper but. . .” Someone has written, “Every man has some but or other in his character, something that blemishes and diminishes him, some alloy to his grandeur, some damp to his joy.”
What influence did the “little girl from the land of Israel” have on Naaman? (2 Kings 5:2-4)
Naaman’s wife had a servant girl from Israel. This little girl had been taken captive by a band of Syrians. Her presence in Naaman’s home made her aware of her master’s plight. The little girl had both pity and piety. She expressed to her mistress her wish that Naaman were in Israel where the prophet Elisha could cure him. It is interesting to note that there is no previous record of Elisha ever having healed a leper. Naaman followed-up on the little girl’s suggestion (perhaps as a final course of action) and went to his master to secure permission to go to Israel.
Note: This little girl meets the qualifications of a witness. She was genuinely interested in the welfare of others. She was not afraid to share where others could find the cure for their disease. She took advantage of an opportunity to share her good news. God sometimes uses little voices to deliver great messages.
How did the king of Aram assist Naaman? (2 Kings 5:5)
The king assisted Naaman by providing him with a letter of introduction to the king of Israel. This letter probably demanded that whatever means available be employed to heal Naaman as indicated in the verses that follow. In addition to the letter, Naaman “took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes” (a small fortune!).
How did the king of Israel interpret (or misinterpret) the letter from the king of Aram? (2 Kings 5:6-7)
The king of Israel (probably Jehoram), interpreted the letter as an attempt by the king of Aram to pick a quarrel and declare war against Israel. The king of Israel was so distraught over the situation that he tore his clothes.
What did Elisha do when he heard about the events in the court of the king? (2 Kings 5:8-9)
When Elisha received word about the king’s despair over the situation he sent word to the king to send Naaman to him. Elisha wanted for Naaman to know that there was a true prophet in Israel. Naaman and his entire company went to the house of Elisha and “stood at the doorway.”
What brief and simple instructions did Elisha issue to Naaman? (2 Kings 5:10)
Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman instructing him to wash in the Jordan river seven times. This action, assured Elisha, would result in complete healing of the leprosy.
What was Naaman’s response to Elisha’s instructions? (2 Kings 5:11-12)
“Naaman was furious and went away.” He expected Elisha to come out and perform some kind of healing ritual. As one commentator noted, “Naaman thought there was some royal cure for a royal patient, and an honorable way to deal with such an honorable man.” In addition, if Naaman had to wash seven times he did not want to wash in the muddy Jordan. After all, there were better rivers in which to wash back home. “So he turned and went away in a rage.”
Fortunately for Naaman his servants calmed him down and urged him to obey the prophet’s simple instructions. They pointed out that if Elisha had asked him to do some great deed he would have done it. Why not then, do a simple thing? Naaman listened to his servants and washed in the Jordan according to Elisha’s instructions “and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” Naaman’s cure was complete.
Note: Notice Naaman’s response, “Behold, I thought. . .” Many people become furious and angry over situations because their expectations were not met. “But I thought you were going to. . .” or “I thought you should have. . .”
What did Naaman do after he was healed? (2 Kings 5:15-19).
[A] He returned to Elisha’s home to express his gratitude (unlike the nine ungrateful lepers in Luke 17:11-19). He offered a present to Elisha who strongly refused to accept any gift.
[B] He came to a new understanding about God and became a monotheist. He publicly acknowledged God before all the people accompanying him. In addition, he asked Elisha for “two mules’ load of earth” which he probably intended to use to build an altar. Some feel that Naaman thought that God was a local deity and therefore that he needed some Israelite soil in order to communewith Him from Syria.
[C] He asked for forgiveness for having to accompany his master into the house of Rimmon (a deity worshiped by the Syrians), which apparently was a part of his duties to the king. Elisha’s response (2 Kings 5:19) indicates that both of Naaman’s requests were granted.
What did Gehazi do after Naaman’s departure? (2 Kings 5:20-27)
[A] He plotted to take something from Naaman.
[B] He pursued Naaman and lied to him in order to “take something from him.” In lying to Naaman, Gehazi misrepresented Elisha and dishonored God. His carefully fabricated lie moved the grateful Naaman to give him the money and clothes he requested for the aid of the “two young men of the sons of the prophets.”
[C] Like Achan (see Joshua 7), Gehazi deposited the things in his home.
[D] He lied to Elisha about his absence. Someone has noted, “He who tells a lie is not sensible how great a task he undertakes; for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain one.” And another commentator has noted. “Let us be careful not to want anything beyond the reach of honesty.” Elisha rebuked Gehazi and cursed both him and his descendants with “the leprosy of Naaman” and Gehazi “went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.
Even the greatest people have problems.
Naaman was a great and respected military leader but he was a leper. No individual is exempt from problems regardless of rank, race, or riches. People must learn to take their problems to God who invites us to cast our every care upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).
We should take advantage of every opportunity to point people to God.
The little Israelite servant girl in Naaman’s household was a bold witness for God. She probably witnessed the pain in Naaman’s household and his frustration at being unable to be cured of leprosy. She had faith both in her God and in God’s servant and was not afraid to boldly proclaim that the man of God could heal her master. We should be as bold as the little servant girl in proclaiming the truth about God and in pointing people to God.
God’s instructions are simple. . .the difficulty is in obeying.
Elisha gave Naaman very simply yet specific instructions regarding how to be healed of his leprosy. God’s instructions are generally simple though specific. The problem is not with God’s instructions but with man’s unwillingness to obey those instructions.
Our preconceived notions can get us into trouble.
Naaman became furious when he received Elisha’s instructions for healing. He “thought” (2 Kings 5:11) that the matter should have been handled differently. He allowed his pride to blind him to his awful predicament and went away in a rage. Fortunately, there were some people who had better perspective than Naaman and encouraged him to obey the prophet’s instructions. After obeying, Naaman said, “Behold now, I know. …” (2 Kings 5:15). Men can never “know” the wonderful things God can do for them if they fail to obey Him according to His Word.
We should never fail to express our gratitude to God.
To Naaman’s credit, he returned to express his appreciation to the man of God. There are many who forget to express appreciation once they receive whatever blessing or benefit they hoped for. We should cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.
Paul told Timothy that “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Gehazi illustrates the truth of Paul’s words. Gehazi had no regard for his master or for God. He selfishly pursued Naaman with the intent of taking something from him. His lust for material things caused him to lie and put aside his integrity.
Lies beget lies.
“O what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” When a man lies he must fabricate even more lies in order to support his initial lie. As a man tells lies to cover lies he soon finds that he cannot remember what he has told to whom and eventually is snared by his own deceit. “He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).