Naaman

Naaman

2 Kings 5:1, 9-18
1 Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper.

9 Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’  
12 Are not the Abanah and the 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. 13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”  14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. 17 So Naaman said, “Then, if not, please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; for your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the LORD. 18 Yet in this thing may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon-when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD please pardon your servant in this thing.”   NKJV

Naaman was the commander of the Syrian army. He was a pagan general. So why on earth would he be considered an unsung hero? Because he’s a picture of the pride-filled, self-sufficient man who thinks he’s above everyone else, yet when Naaman has an encounter with the God of Israel, we see an incredibly radical, life-changing transformation take place in him. It’s a lesson to all of us.

Here is a mighty man who commanded the respect of all those around him, including his soldiers, the citizens of Syria, and even the king. But all the respect in the world could not save him from the unfortunate event of having contracted leprosy. This was a death sentence for him except for a miracle, and the Syrian gods weren’t providing any of those. But in this hopeless situation we discover a young, Israeli slave girl who has the courage to inform others that there is a prophet in Samaria who could heal him.

After a series of events, the King of Syria communicates with the King of Israel requesting that Naaman be given an audience with Elisha the Prophet. The request is granted and Naaman and his escorts travel to Samaria to Elisha’s home.  But when Naaman arrives, Elisha will not even give this great general the time-of-day. Instead he sends his servant out to him. To a general and a nobleman, this was an insult and highly disrespectful. And then to add insult to injury, Naaman is told to go dip seven times in the dirty Jordan River. He refuses. He is not a happy camper. Rather than suffer any more indignities and blows to his pride, he decides to leave and go back to Syria as a leper still…until a very brave servant confronts him to his face and asks him a very simple question. “Why not?”

Naaman’s heart is pierced through that confrontation, and right there in front of his servants and soldiers, this great general humbles himself. He displaces his pride with humility, and chooses to obey the word of the Lord. He goes down to the dirty old Jordan and dips seven times. And when he does, God healed him.

But he did not just receive a physical healing; he also received a heart transformation. He had had an encounter with the Living God. And when Naaman returned to Syria, he was no longer the same man. He was a believer in the God of Israel. He brought soil back from Samaria so that when he was required to accompany the king of Syria into the temple to worship their false gods, when he bowed down, it was on the soil of Samaria. His body may have been in the Syrian temple of a false god, but his heart was set on the God of Israel. And all those around him understood what he was doing. Naaman was unafraid and unashamed to make known that his life had been changed. And he would not deny it. What a story and what inspiration.

Has Christ made an impact on our lives like that? Where our pride or fear of representing Christ may cost us, but we no longer care? Where our pride or fear is overcome by a heart of gratitude, overwhelmed by His kindness towards us. Where our pride or fear begins to take a back seat in our lives, regardless of from whom it may separate us? Men…may we have the heart of the psalmist who declares these words:

Psalm 119:46
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, NIV

Blessings,
Gene Pietrini

“Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.”
– Augustine

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