While the books of Kings chronicle the history of kingdom of Israel, we see here a glimmer of an ‘outsider’ who comes into the fold of God’s chosen people, chosen to be recipient of His grace.
2 Kings 5:1-18
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.”9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord.18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.”
Naaman comes across as a decent chap. He is trusted and respected at work and home, carries out his duties well and commands the love and trust of his family and servants. But he lives under two shadows, that of leprosy, and that of not knowing the one true God.
Without realising it, Naaman has already been an instrument of God, who had permitted the nation of Aram to have victory over Israel.
Israel would not have felt very much like they were receiving God’s grace after losing a battle; it is not fun being the loser. But by this stage, Israel and its kings needed a lesson. It was still God’s grace trying to draw them back to Him, rather than let them go their own way, further and further away. Perhaps in their captivity, they would turn back to Him.
One young girl remembers God and His prophet back in Samaria, Elisha. This little girl becomes the instrument of God’s grace when she lets Naaman’s wife know that there is a cure for his leprosy.
The king of Israel, on the other hand, has forgotten about Elisha and reacts in a petulant, ungracious way to the request from Aram. Instead of seeking wisdom from God, he figures that he has to deal with this in his own way and, being unable to cure Naaman, figures this must be an incitement for a quarrel.
Thankfully, Elisha sorts him out, and so we find Naaman and his retinue at Elisha’s front door. For him, it would be the doorway to a new life and a new faith.
Naaman’s initial response is often the response to God’s grace today. Can it really be that simple? Shouldn’t there be something more? Something hard I have to do to earn redemption? Shouldn’t there be some great earth shattering thing happen so that I can see the hand of God in this?
The fact is that something more has already happened. Many years later, this same river, the Jordan, would witness the convergence of the three persons of God: Father, Son, and Spirit at the baptism of Jesus, who would catapult God’s grace across the world.
Some great earth shattering thing happened that didn’t just cure the world of its leprosy, but of that second shadow of being under a false god.
At the cross, Jesus’s blood and the grace of God flowed out to all the Earth. And just as Naaman wanted a piece of earth from Israel that he could stand on in his newfound faith, Jesus himself becomes the cornerstone of grace that we can set our lives upon.
Head: Are there any things God has asked me to do that seem too simple? Do I think I have better solutions?
Heart: When those around me are bowing to other gods, how can I remember God’s grace in my heart and stand for Him?
Hands: The maid in Naaman’s wife’s employ was going about her job but found an opportunity to talk about God’s grace. Can I look for a chance this week to talk about God’s grace in my day to day activities?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for being the best cure for my life, for showing me Your Grace in your salvation and sacrifice on my behalf. Thank you for doing that immensely hard and difficult thing so that all I have to do is simply trust in You. Amen
A song to listen to: Our Saviour and Our King
Nicole Davenport- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina