2 Kings 5:14–16, 20–22, 24–27comment (0)
January 20, 2011
By Jay T. Robertson
Related Scripture: 2 Kings 5:14–16, 20–22, 24–27
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Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
SICK OF GREED?
2 Kings 5:14–16, 20–22, 24–27
Grace Not for Sale (14–16)
Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, had leprosy. Although the term was used for a variety of illnesses and does not correspond to a modern clinical term, leprosy was an extremely serious condition. The disease was progressive and Naaman was clearly in the early stages since he could still move about in public. It was, however, terminal with no known cure. By God’s gracious providence, Naaman learned of a prophet in Israel who could cure his disease. The king of Syria sent him to Israel with a letter telling the king to cure Naaman of his leprosy. In the presence of such a demand, the unnamed king of Israel came unglued. He interpreted this letter as a pretense for war. He did not think about calling on the name of the Lord or his prophet, Elisha. He was totally out of touch with what was happening and blind to the hand of God. Elisha, however, knew God and His purposes. What the king could not do, God could. Elisha instructed the king to have Naaman come to him. Happily, the king sent Naaman to God’s prophet. When Naaman arrived at Elisha’s house, Elisha sent a messenger to him to go and wash in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman exploded with anger and stomped away. His servants came to his rescue and attacked his pride with common sense. He would do something difficult to be healed, they reasoned, so why not try this possible cure? Naaman followed their advice and was healed. Naaman did not return directly to Syria to report his healing but to Elisha to confess his faith. He declared, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel.” He then offered Elisha a present. Elisha rejected the gift. He would not accept payment or take credit for something that was God’s act of grace.
Thoughts of a Profit (20–22)
It is possible to be close to God’s work and people but to be far from God’s heart. As Elisha’s servant Gehazi watched Naaman depart, all he could see was a lost opportunity for personal enrichment. His greed stood in stark contrast to Elisha’s generosity and Naaman’s gratitude. Gehazi was determined to spell prophet “p-r-o-f-i-t.” His plan was simple and shrewd. Hurrying after Naaman, he caught him and spun a story, in Elisha’s name, of unexpected visitors and a sudden need for provisions. Gehazi’s shrewdness was evident in that his story was believable and his request was limited. Naaman graciously responded to this “need” and gave Gehazi two talents of silver and two sets of clothes for the needy guests. This sinful demonstration by a God-called man shocks us. Gehazi was driven by greed to such a degree that he could boldly lie in order to get what he wanted. We all must examine our motives, even when we attempt to help others. There are times when we help others while inwardly hoping to get something in return. How can we overcome these sinful temptations? We must look to the Spirit of Christ to transform our selfish desires into Christ-exalting desires. As we read and study Scripture, the Holy Spirit produces Christ’s character within us, which, in turn, causes us to think with Christ’s conscience and act with Christ’s conduct.
No Good From Greed (24–27)
Gehazi hid the two talents of silver and the clothes in his house before he reported back to Elisha. He thought he had committed the perfect crime, but he had underestimated God’s prophet. It was futile to try to deceive a man who was getting his information directly from God. By divine revelation, Elisha knew all that had taken place, and he made it clear to Gehazi that his disrespect for God and His word had been found out. His disobedience tarnished God’s glory. To enrich oneself by cashing in on an act of God was reprehensible. And Gehazi would pay the price. Naaman’s leprosy would cling to Gehazi and his descendants forever. As the story comes to an end, Naaman and Gehazi have traded places. The pagan soldier who humbled himself to submit to God’s word through the prophet was healed. The prophet’s servant who had disobeyed God’s word tasted the bitterness of judgment.