By Bobby L. Graham
In 2 Kings 5 we have recorded an incident that took place during the period of the Divided Kingdom and probably in the reign of Jehoram. This miracle performed by Elisha, successor to Elijah, centers around Naaman, a man mentioned only here and in Luke 4:27, who was army commander for King Benhadad of Syria.
The record relates that Naaman was highly regarded by the king, being what many today would call “a good soldier.” Nevertheless, Naaman had the dreaded disease of leprosy, which would render him unclean for the ceremonies of the Law of Moses if he had been under that Law. Leprosy afflicted people in both light and severe forms. In view of Naaman’s capacity for his military exploits and court duties (v. 18), it is probable that his leprosy had not advanced to a severe stage.
In an earlier raid on the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Syrian forces captured a young woman who was forced into servitude for the wife of Naaman. It was this young servant that wished Naaman might visit the prophet Elisha for healing. Benhadad then intervened on Naaman’s behalf with Israel’s king, who became outraged because of what he was expected to do.
Upon hearing of the king’s rage, Elisha sent for Naaman, whom he directed to dip seven times in the Jordan River (v. 10). The details of the ensuing events form the basis for our present study.
Naaman’s Pride: “Behold, I Thought!”
The fury of this notable military leader is significantly included in the inspired account to depict the pride of presumption. Naaman thought (presumed) that ceremonious ritual would play a part in his healing (v. 11). Furthermore, he thought the rivers of Damascus superior to the Jordan (v. 12). Finally, he evidently thought he could do better elsewhere, as he left in a rage (v. 12). In all of this thinking, he thought big (v. 13). At this time of inflated ego, his servants took the wind from his sails through an appeal to his desire for cleansing.
Naaman’s Cure: Thinking God’s Thoughts
The pride of Naaman’s heart had deceived him to presume to know what was best. Such is always the course of one who thinks independently of God’s inspired direction. All who take pride in their independent thinking need to be careful that they not go beyond the thinking of God, set forth in His Word. While it is sometimes good to form one’s conclusions apart from what others have decided, God must always be included in one’s counsel. To do otherwise is to be guilty of presumptuous sin.
After the rebuke of a servant in verse 13, Naaman then accepted God’s simple solution and then enjoyed God’s profound benefit in verse 14. The cure of this malady, which man has been unable to devise even yet, was so simple when this man so accustomed to giving orders humbly accepted divine directions. The essence of Naaman’s cure was his willingness to think God’s thoughts. Only when we today have the faith to accept God’s way in every phase of life can we think God’s thoughts and be blessed by Him.
Naaman’s Gratitude: “Now I Know”
The proud presumption of an earlier moment had been transformed into reliance upon God and thankfulness to Him. Verse 15 describes his extolling of God’s power and majesty. He also offered a gift to Elisha and finally requested two loads of dirt from the land of Israel, whereon he might make sacrifice unto Jehovah.
Lessons To Learn
The New Testament says that “the things written before time were written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4). In keeping with this principle of deriving benefit from recorded sacred history, let us be sure to consider the following:
1. God’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts (Isa. 55:8,9).
2. Man must always humble himself before he can obey God.
3. God will not accept man’s substitutes.
4. Wise rebuke sometimes comes from unexpected sources.
5. Full compliance is the only obedience.
6. God’s benefits should evoke gratitude in our hearts and lives.
These lessons have definite application to people needing to complete their obedience to God in becoming Christians, as well as to the lives of all claiming to belong to Christ.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 3, pp. 65, 87
February 5, 1987