Introduction - where are we?
First lesson in 2 Kings, which is really just just a continuation of 1 Kings
Kings tells the story of both kingdoms (northern & southern); Chronicles primarily deals with southern kingdom from a priestly perspective
Our story this morning deals with the healing of Naaman, a well-known story. But sometimes we can learn the most from stores with which we are already familiar
1 Naaman, commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a man important to his master and highly regarded because through him, the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was a valiant warrior, but he had a skin disease. 2 Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.” 4 So Naaman went and told his master what the girl from the land of Israel had said. 5 Therefore, the king of Aram said, “Go, and I will send a letter with you to the king of Israel.” So he went and took with him 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing. 6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel, and it read: When this letter comes to you, note that I have sent you my servant Naaman for you to cure him of his skin disease.
v. 1 Naaman - a high ranking figure, whose military work allows Syria to dominate the region
Aram (Arameans) - the residents of Syria during the divided kingdom
“The Lord had given victory to Aram” - God sovereignly rules over all nations and all peoples
“a skin disease”
this was *not* a technical term for leprosy
it may well have been leprosy, or psoriasis, or skin cancer, or any number of specific diseases
in Syria, Naaman could still function; in Israel he would have been quarantined
v. 2 In God’s providence this girl was stolen from her family (were they even still alive?)
v. 3 “if only...” - the faith of a slave girl
She demonstrated faith but also concern for her master; what does that say about his character?
childlike faith as in Matt 18 1-5
“1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,”
v. 5 Naaman had access to the king!
v. 6 The king writes a letter
He does not know that true prophets do not work for money, nor are they paid by the king, nor does the king have authority over them. Thus, sending Naaman to Israel’s king does Naaman no good.
7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and asked, “Am I God, killing and giving life, that this man expects me to cure a man of his skin disease? Recognize that he is only picking a fight with me.” 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king: “Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, “Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your skin will be restored and you will be clean.”
v. 7 O ye of little faith! The king (Jehoram?) didn’t even ask Elisha if this was something he could do.
This reminds me of the account where Isaiah asks the king of Judah (Ahaz) - what sign can I give you, and Ahaz refuses to give an answer
v. 8 “he will know there is a prophet in Israel” - maybe Israel’s king will know too!
v. 9 - a royal procession arrives at the home of Elisha
v. 10 “Elisha sent him a messenger”
11 But Naaman got angry and left, saying, “I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the skin disease. 12 Aren’t Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and left in a rage.
Disappointed (“angry”) because...
No audience with the prophet
Told to wash in a muddy river inferior to rivers in his own country
a trip to Jordan - about 40 miles
A common response from unbelievers: why doesn’t God provide salvation in *this* way? God is not fair because...
They want to sit in judgment on God, rather than accept God’s judgment of them
13 But his servants approached and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more should you do it when he only tells you, ‘Wash and be clean’?” 14 So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the command of the man of God. Then his skin was restored and became like the skin of a small boy, and he was clean.
v. 13 - his servants and the voice of reason:
this really isn’t a hard request that is being asked of you
v. 14 “according to the command of the man of god”; why was Naaman healed? because he acted in faith on God’s word
Was Naaman more than just healed?
v. 15 “I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel”
Putting our circumstances in perspective
William Cowper (There is a fountain filled with blood)
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.
The little slave girl faced such a frowning providence
The faith of the pagan Naaman puts to shame the Israelite “actors” in this story - Jehoram, Gehazi
Naaman expresses regret that his job responsibilities require him to appear to worship in a pagan temple; Jehoram is ignoring Elisha and actively pursing false worship
We must approach the Lord in true humility
God has the power to heal, as well as to save