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The Testimony of the Slave Girl
v. 1. Now, Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, the commander-in-chief of the Syrian forces, was a great man with his master, he occupied an influential position in the king's service, and honorable, highly respected, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria, in gaining the victory over Ahab and his forces, 1 Kings 22:35-36. He was also a mighty man in valor, an excellent military chief; but he was a leper, a fact which made him unfit for the fulfillment of many of his duties.
v. 2. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, on expeditions for the purpose of making plunder, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid, a young girl; and she waited on Naaman's wife, performing the work of a house-slave.
v. 3. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord, Naaman, were with the prophet that is in Samaria, for Elisha had his home there, for he would recover him of his leprosy, so that be would be healed and could perform his duties as of old.
v. 4. And one, that is, Naaman, went in and told his lord, the king, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. He placed the proposition before the king for his approval or disapproval.
v. 5. And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. He was very anxious to have Naaman restored to his former health and vigor. And he, Naaman, departed, and took with him ten talents of silver (almost $20,000) and six thousand pieces of gold (estimated at between $36,000 and $44,000) and ten changes of raiment, special festival dresses.
v. 6. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, who since Ahab's defeat was in a certain state of dependence upon the Syrian king, 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. The king of Syria held the king of Israel responsible for this healing, since he probably thought that he had but to summon the prophet and command him to perform the miracle.
v. 7. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, out of fright and sadness, 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? He demanded something which only God could do, and therefore plainly made the matter an issue. Wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. Note that the little slave-girl took the opportunity of testifying to Jehovah's prophet, thus becoming instrumental in leading Naaman to find the truth a fine example for people in our days.
The Healing of Naaman
v. 8. And it was so, when Elisha, the man of God, had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, being in despair on account of the apparently impossible feat which was expected of him, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? in his opinion an act of foolish fear. Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel, a servant of the true and almighty God.
v. 9. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, with his entire retinue, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha, too proud, as it seems, to enter the poor hut, but expecting the prophet to deal with him in a manner befitting his rank.
v. 10. And Elisha, utterly unimpressed by the show of wealth and power, sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, return to the former state of firmness and health, and thou shalt be clean. From this Naaman was to learn that his healing would not be a matter of magic nor dependent upon the person of Elisha, but that it was a free gift of the God of Israel.
v. 11. But Naaman was wroth, which shows in what state of mind he had come to Samaria, as the proud general demanding aid, not as a suppliant pleading for help, 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, moving it back and forth over the infected spot with a gesture of conjuring, and recover the leper. He thought such religious ceremonies, together with some application of magic, were essential, especially in his case.
v. 12. Are not Abana (or Amana) and Pharpar, mountain streams with clear, fresh water, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and be clean? He thought the cure consisted in the removal of the filth in the flesh by the outward application of water. So he turned and went away in a rage.
v. 13. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, an address at the same time intimate and respectful, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, something particularly difficult to perform, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather, then, when he saith to thee, Wash and be clean?
v. 14. Then went he down, from the hill on which Samaria was situated, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God, the number seven being the signature of the works of God; and his flesh came again, it was restored to its full healthy condition, like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
v. 15. And he returned to the man of God, to Samaria, he and all his company, and came and stood before him. And he said, in the conviction which had been forced upon him by his recent experiences, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel, faith in the true God had been wrought in his heart. Now, therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant, in the form of a rich present.
v. 16. But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, as His humble and devoted servant, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused, not wishing to have even the suspicion of selfishness and of seeking personal gain resting upon him.
v. 17. And Naaman said, in a humble tone, which contrasted strangely with his former overbearing behavior, 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. He did not ascribe magical powers to the soil of Israel, but wanted his act of building an altar from this earth to he a confession of his faith in Jehovah.
v. 18. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon, the chief idol of Syria, to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, namely, while assisting the king in his act of worship: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, not in personal worship, but in serving his master, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing. He freely confessed this scruple of a tender conscience, in order not to have it appear that he was denying the Lord whom he now had so openly accepted.
v. 19. a. And he, Elisha, said unto him, Go in peace. We see from this entire story, first, that the Lord demands simple and absolute obedience to His Word; secondly, that He had mercy. also upon the poor heathen; and finally, that He expects us to watch very carefully lest we become partakers of other men's sins.
v. 19. b. So he departed from him a little way. Naaman started out on his return journey to Damascus.
v. 20. But Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, said, thinking in his own heart, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman, this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought, the rich presents having aroused the covetousness of Gehazi; but, as the Lord liveth, a blasphemous oath in this connection, I will run after him and take somewhat of him, in order to become possessed of at least some of that wealth.
v. 21. So Gehazi followed after Naaman, running quickly to overtake him. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, a mark of respect; for he honored the master in the servant, and said, Is all well? The evident excitement of Gehazi made it appear as though something had happened.
v. 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, this statement, of course, being a deliberate falsehood; give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver (almost $2,000) and two changes of garments.
v. 23. And Naaman said, Be content, let yourself be persuaded, be pleased to accept, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, probably basket-like sacks, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants, a pretty heavy burden; and they bare them before him.
v. 24. And when he came to the tower, the hill before the city, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house, keeping them in a safe place. And he let the men go, and they departed.
v. 25. But he went in and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, again lying, Thy servant went nowhither, literally neither hither nor thither," protesting that he did not so much as leave the premises.
v. 26. And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, his body, indeed, not being present, but his spirit, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive-yards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and men-servants, and maid-servants? For all of these might be purchased with the money obtained by Gehazi, after the manner of the false prophets, with whom the true servants of the Lord would surely never be identified, neither at that time nor ever.
v. 27. The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee and unto thy seed forever. That was God's punishment for his deceit and his avarice. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow. Men among the servants of the Lord who have denied faith and a good conscience and have placed their affection upon the things of this world will receive their punishment by the hand of God, if not now, then surely hereafter.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 5". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany