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2Ki 5:1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, [but he was] a leper.
Ver. 1. Because by him the Lord had given deliverance. ] At that time, probably, when Ahab and Jehoshaphat came against Ramothgilead, 1Ki 22:29 Naaman was commander-in-chief of the Syrian’s army; and the Rabbis tell us that it was he who shot the arrow wherewith Ahab was slain. Hence he is said to have saved Syria, like as afterwards Marius saved Italy, Flaminius Greece, Fabius Rome, Hunniades Hungary, &c.
But he was a leper. ] Not from his birth, nor yet to his death. Hence a learned writer of ours fitly compareth the whole Church of Christ in all her ages to this Naaman the Syrian. He was first pure and sound, and did many honourable acts, and thereby represented the primitive Church, pure and clean, without spot or disease appearing; howbeit, there might be some secret seeds of diseases unperceived, which in continuance of time grew to a visible leprosy. In his middle time he became leprous, diseased, and deformed, foully infected in himself, and infecting others; and thereby represented the latter Church of Rome. Afterwards, by the prophet’s direction, he was washed and cleansed from his leprosy, and his flesh restored to become pure and perfect, like the flesh of a young child; and thereby represented our Reformed Churches. a And as Naaman in all these three estates was the same person, and not a new, diverse, or several man; so our Church is not a new Church, but the old Church reformed from errors and corruptions, and restored to her ancient purity and soundness.
a Cade, Of the Church.
2Ki 5:2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.
Ver. 2. A little maid; and she waited on Naaman’ s wife.] The captivity of this poor Hebrew girl is a means to make Naaman, the greatest lord of Syria, a subject to God. a It is good to acquaint our children with the works of God, with the praises of his prophets. Little do we know how they may improve the knowledge, and whither they may carry it; perhaps the remotest nations may light their candle at their coal. Nicephorus tells b of a Christian maid carried captive into Spain, that by her piety and prayers she gained many there to Christ. Paul showeth that the very report of his bonds did a great deal of good in Caesar’s house. Mr Fox writeth c that by reading of Chaucer some were brought to the knowledge of the truth, &c.
a Bp. Hall.
b Nicep., lib. viii. cap. 34.
c Fol. 767.
2Ki 5:3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord [were] with the prophet that [is] in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
Ver. 3. For he would recover him of his leprosy. ] Few in Israel believed thus much. Luk 4:27 This poor girl was confident that the prophet, famous in her country for so many miracles, both could and would cure her master, if duly sought unto; and her words found credit, to the great honour of the true God.
2Ki 5:4 And [one] went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that [is] of the land of Israel.
Ver. 4. And one went and told his lord. ] Told the king of Syria, who thereupon sent to the king of Israel, out of his love to Naaman, whom he slighted not, though a leper; nor the wench’s words, though a captive.
2Ki 5:5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand [pieces] of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
Ver. 5. And took with him ten talents of silver, &c. ] Very great sums he took - ten or eleven thousand pounds sterling, - partly for expenses in so long a journey, but principally for presents to the king and courtiers; but especially to the prophet, for he thought that, as among the heathen,
“ Aνευθε χαλκου φοιβος ου μαντευεται .”
Gifts make room for a man, and bringeth him before great ones. Pro 18:16 Their priests also were δωροφαγοι , and "with shame loved, Give ye." Hos 4:18 Now he knew not but Elisha might be of the same strain.
2Ki 5:6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have [therewith] sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
Ver. 6. That thou mayest recover him of his leprosy, ] sc., By commending him to thy prophet, so famous for his miracles; and by commanding him to cure him.
2Ki 5:7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, [Am] I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
Ver. 7. He rent his clothes. ] As apprehending it to be blasphemy, and deeply detesting such an impiety. Meanwhile he never thought of Elisha, who was better known and more regarded abroad than at home.
See how he seeketh a quarrel. ] This troubled Jehoram more than the blasphemy, whatever he pretended. This Benhadad who wrote the letter, was he who slew Ahab at Ramothgilead, 1 Kings 22:35 ; 1Ki 22:37 who besieging Samaria, brought it to that extreme famine, 2Ki 6:24-25 and afterwards at Ramothgilead wounded this Jehoram. 2Ki 8:28-29
2Ki 5:8 And it was [so], when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
Ver. 8. Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? ] Knowest thou not that God doth both kill and make alive at the prayer of the faithful? Hoc peto et volo, et fiat voluntas mea, said Luther, praying for Miconius, a godly minister far gone in a deep consumption; and he recovered.
And he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel. ] Though thou and thy courtiers will take little knowledge of me: nor so much as consult with me in this great affair.
2Ki 5:9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
Ver. 9. And stood at the door. ] Where the prophet held him; not out of pride, - as that Pope did the emperor whom he made to wait three days at his gate in the depth of winter ere he would admit him, - but humility rather: that God might have the whole glory of all the cure. Hereby also Naaman’s pride was pulled down, and he the better prepared for such a miraculous mercy.
2Ki 5:10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
Ver. 10. Go and wash in Jordan seven times. ] This was the prophet’s oracle, which he construeth for a contempt, and thereupon blustereth. 2Ki 5:11-12 The simplicity of Christ is still much mistaken by the mad world, ever besides itself in point of salvation.
2Ki 5:11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
Ver. 11. Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me. ] Here we have a lively picture of pure, or rather impure, nature, a true pattern of her disposition; how she is altogether led by sense and reason, sticks to her own principles, misconstrues God’s intentions, overweens her own, &c.
2 Kings 5:12 [Are] not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
Ver. 12. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus ] Benjamin in his "Itinerary" saith, there is not so fruitful and sweet a city in all the world as Damascus, by reason of these two rivers Abana and Pharpar, called by historiographers Adonis and Orontes, falling from mount Hermon. For which cause also, saith another writer, the impostor Mohammed would never enter in this city, fearing - as himself used to say - lest, being ravished with the ineffable pleasures of the place, he should forget the business whereabout he was sent, and make this town his paradise.
Better than all the waters of Israel? ] Why, yes, they may so seem, so long as you look upon them with Syrian eyes. Thus carnal people despise the "foolishness of preaching," the simplicity of sacraments, the seeming inefficacy of censures, &c.
2Ki 5:13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, [if] the prophet had bid thee [do some] great thing, wouldest thou not have done [it]? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Ver. 13. And his servants came near, &c. ] These were faithful servants indeed; not such Aiones and Negones as great men are now-a-days set up with, that - right or wrong - will say as they say, soothing them up in their sinful practices. It is a great happiness for a man to be attended with wise and faithful followers. Many a one hath had better counsel from his heels than from his elbows.
2Ki 5:14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Ver. 14. Then went he down, &c. ] He was not so morose or self-willed, though now in a great pelt, but that he would hearken to reason, though it came from servants.
According to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh, &c.] Long enough might Naaman have washed there in vain, if Elisha had not sent him, and said to him, Go, wash in Jordan seven times, &c. It is the word, the ordinance of the Almighty, which putteth efficacy into those means which by themselves are both impotent and improbable. What can water in baptism do of itself to the washing away of sin? Some tell us that by that water Constantine the Great was cured of a leprosy; but that was not, saith mine author, by the efficacy of the water, nor yet by the efficacy of baptism precisely and properly - since it was instituted for another purpose, - but because the baptismal water was to him divinae voluntatis et propheticae iussionis instrumentum, as Ambrose hath it of Jordan’s water to Naaman, a means to convey good to him both for body and soul.
2Ki 5:15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that [there is] no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
Ver. 15. And he returned to the man of God. ] Like the tenth leper. Luk 17:15 Many men are, that they may receive benefits, importunate; till they have received them, unquiet; when they have received them, unthankful. Naaman was none such.
Behold, now I know. ] Hereby it appeareth that Naaman was cured on both sides, and became a pledge of the Gentiles’ conversion. Luk 4:27
2Ki 5:16 But he said, [As] the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take [it]; but he refused.
Ver. 16. Before whom I stand. ] As his menial servant, being θεοφορος , i.e., carrying God in him, as Isidor Pelusiot was called, full of God. Particeps Dei est vir sapiens, saith a philosopher, a wise man is a partaker of God, and therefore holds everything else worthless: as Abraham, when once assured that God, "the possessor of heaven and earth," was his "shield and exceeding great reward," would not take of the king of Sodom anything, to a shoelatchet. Genesis 14:23 ; Gen 15:1
I will receive none. ] Lest I should seem covetous, or to be thy beneficiary, or pensioner engaged. This made also Abraham so resolute. Gen 14:22-23 Epaminondas, the famous Theban, though very poor, would by no means accept of a great mass of money sent him by the king of Persia; et ut mea fert sententia, magnificentior fuit is qui non aurum accepit, quam qui donavit, a saith Aelian, and it was very bravely done of him. It was God’s glory that the prophet in this refusal aimed at, and Naaman’s soul’s good: that he might give all the honour of his cure to God alone; and learn to set light by earthly property, and pomp of the world.
a Var., Hist., lib. v.
2Ki 5:17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD.
Ver. 17. Two mules’ burden of earth.] Not to put under his feet when he stood in the house of Rimmon, as some have fondly conceited, but for an altar whereon to offer sacrifice, as himself showeth, and therewithal his zeal without knowledge, which is ordinary in new converts. As nature, so grace riseth by many degrees to perfection. Naaman’s leprosy was cured at once: not so his corruption.
2Ki 5:18 In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, [that] when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.
Ver. 18. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant. ] He held it a sin then, and would have a dispensation for it, as it may seem. Young carpenters make many chips; so do young converts many faults, which God imputeth not. Let none by Naaman’s example plead an upright soul in a prostrate body, pretend Nathanael in the skin of a Nicodemus. The words may be taken of the time past, and so some read, The Lord be merciful unto me, for I have gone into the house of Rimmon. So the word is used in Psalms 51:1 ; Psalms 52:1 ; Psalms 54:1 .
2Ki 5:19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.
Ver. 19. Go in peace. ] A friendly dismission, or as some will have it, a dilatory answer - q.d., Go thy way, trouble not thyself with points of this nature, the resolution whereof thou, being a babe as yet, art uncapable of. Content thyself with the benefit which thou hast already received. I hope the Lord will so direct thee that thou shalt not offend him in any such way. Valentinian would not attend upon Julian the emperor into the idol temple, and smote the priest that sprinkled him with holy water. So the Duke of Saxony and the other Protestant princes are much commended for this, that at the Imperial Diet, about religion, they went only to the church door with Charles V, Emperor, going to mass, but would not enter in with him.
2Ki 5:20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, [as] the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
Ver. 20. But Gehazi … said, Behold, my master, &c.] Ubi observa λογισμον hominis avarissimi. Covetousness is a complexive evil, the root of all evil, saith St Paul. David maketh it a violation of all the commandments. Psa 119:36 See how fast this covetous captive in the text breaketh them: (1.) He accuseth his holy master of prodigality, "Behold, my master hath spared"; (2.) He speaks contemptuously of so noble a convert, calling him "Naaman this Syrian," this ethnic, this enemy; (3.) He sweareth a great oath, and therewith bindeth his wicked purpose; (4.) He telleth various loud lies - [1.] to Naaman, [2.] to Elisha; (5.) He playeth the thief, hiding the money, and interverting it to his own use. Take heed, therefore, and beware of covetousness:
“ H φιλοχρημοσυνη μητηρ κακοτητος απασης .”
There is a mint of mischief in a worldly heart.
2Ki 5:21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw [him] running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, [Is] all well?
Ver. 2l. So Gehazi followed. ] Being acted and agitated by the devil of discontent, Judas-like.
2Ki 5:22 And he said, All [is] well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.
Ver. 22. My master hath sent me. ] This was all false and forged. Little conscience is made of lying by covetous cormorants, so they may get by it.
2Ki 5:23 And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid [them] upon two of his servants; and they bare [them] before him.
Ver. 23. Be content, take two talents. ] Which amount to seven hundred and fifty pounds sterling. God saith as much in effect to his suitors, pressing and heaping mercies upon them. Joh 16:24
2Ki 5:24 And when he came to the tower, he took [them] from their hand, and bestowed [them] in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.
Ver. 24: He took them from their hand.] A cunning thief; but his cunning deceived him, as familiars do witches, at the last, when they are in hold.
And they departed. ] Quietly and quickly: sed Nemesis in tergo. Conscience and vengeance stuck to him.
2Ki 5:25 But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence [comest thou], Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.
Ver. 25. Thy servant went no whither. ] Another flat lie; sic mendaciuui mendacio assuit; but with ill success. Our false hearts will answer us in like sort, when they have been ranging and roving in hell’s ways.
2Ki 5:26 And he said unto him, Went not mine heart [with thee], when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? [Is it] a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?
Ver. 26. Went not mine heart with thee? ] Was not all the transaction revealed as really and clearly unto me, as if I had been there bodily present?
Is it a time to receive money? ] Giving is kind, and taking is courteous: and both may at some times and in some cases be done without sin. There is much use of godly discretion, doubtless, in directing us when to open, when to shut our hands.
And oliveyards and vineyards? ] The purchase of all which Gehazi was now busily meditating with his two talents.
2Ki 5:27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper [as white] as snow.
Ver. 27. The leprosy therefore of Naaman. ] As thou hast his money, so take his leprosy, a filthy disease for thy filthy lucre; a sad bequeath to thy children whom thou thoughtest to have raised for ever. Gain got by a lie will burn our fingers, burn in our purses, rot our estates, root out our posterity: it is like a bundle of plague clothes, &c.
A leper as white as snow. ] How much better to Gehazi had been a light purse and a homely coat, with a sound body and a clear soul! Peter Martyr compareth the Pope to Gehazi.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany