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2 Kings 5:116comment (0)

August 16, 2007

By Sigurd Bryan

Related Scripture: 2 Kings 5:116

Director, Samford Sundays, Samford University

2 Kings 5:1–16

Sickness Can Strike Anyone (1–5a)
This lesson zeros in on a Syrian army commander who had leprosy. The Hebrew word for leprosy here is a term for several skin diseases, but it is impossible to determine the exact nature of his disease. Leprosy was a disease that was generally feared because of the social separation involved plus the physical pain it caused.

It seems that Naaman had reached the top of his profession as a military man. He was a skillful warrior and had been successful time and time again in battle. As a result, he was highly honored by his king and looked upon by his countrymen as a “great man.” But this great man was now suffering from leprosy. How he contracted it we are not told. But he wanted to get rid of it.

At this point in the story, a minor character enters the scene and plays a major role. On one of the Syrian raids into Israel, a young Israelite girl was captured and given to Naaman’s wife as a servant. One day, she ventured to tell her mistress about the prophet in Samaria who could cure Naaman of his leprosy. Naaman’s wife told Naaman and Naaman told the king about the prophet. Then the king of Syria (Aram) told Naaman to go to Israel with a letter from the king to the king of Israel commanding him to cure Naaman of his leprosy. (This seems to indicate at this time that Israel was subject to Syria.)

God’s Ways Not Always Understood (5b–12)
The present that the king of Syria sent by Naaman to the king of Israel was large — about $80,000 in cash plus 10 changes of clothing. The letter was delivered to the king of Israel. When read by the king, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God to give death or life that this man sends me word to cure a man of leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”

When Elisha heard of this, he sent a message to the king saying, “Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” When Naaman with his horses and chariots arrived at the entrance of Elisha’s house, the prophet did not come out to meet Naaman and perform some spectacular ritual of healing. Instead he simply 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.”

Naaman apparently had his own idea of how the healing should take place. The remedy of Elisha was too simple and not dramatic enough to suit the army commander who was accustomed to giving orders to others. And further the Jordan River was far less attractive than the rivers of Damascus. He wondered why he could not wash in them and be clean. So “he turned and went away in rage.”

God’s Grace Available (13–16)
Again servants of Naaman make a great contribution. They encouraged him not to stumble over the simple remedy, and Naaman went to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times in the water. Having done that, his healing took place and “his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child.”

Following his healing, Naaman returned to Elisha and made a confession of faith in the God of Israel. Then he offered Elisha the present the king of Syria had sent — the money and the clothes. Elisha refused it. After all, he had done this good deed to Naaman that he might learn that there was a prophet in Israel.

We may not always understand God’s ways of working, but by humbly obeying, we will receive His blessings. Money can do much yet it cannot purchase what only God can give — redemption from sin and healing the body. God is still the Great Physician.

James, the half brother of Jesus, said: “Are any among you suffering? They should pray. … Are any among you sick? The prayer of faith will save the sick … pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (James 5:13a, 14a, 15a, 16b, c).
When sickness strikes, pray first of all. Then utilize other available resources.

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