Naaman was an unlikely candidate for healing by a prophet from Israel. After all, he commanded the army of Aram (moder-day Syria), who considered Israel an enemy.
Naaman was a brave man… a man of valor… but that did not protect him from one of the most shameful diseases the world knew in that day: leprosy. And, ironically, it was a prisoner of war who pointed the way to his eventual cure – a young Jewish servant girl suggested he visit the prophet, Elisha.
Naaman sought the blessing of his superior, the king of Aram, who sent a hefty payment to Israel’s king to buy the services of Elisha. Naaman and his master seemed unaware that Israel’s prophets did not answer to a human authority… but to God alone. At first, the bribe had the opposite effect, alarming the Israelite king, who suspected the Arameans were simply trying to pick another fight with Israel. But, Elisha intervened… sensing an opportunity to show the superiority of the One True God – both to Naaman and to Israel’s own unbelieving king.
Elisha staged his encounter with Naaman to leave no doubt as to who was responsible for the miraculous healing that took place. By refusing to meet Naaman face-to-face, Elisha made him realize that true healing comes from God, not from some superstitious spell cast by a human prophet (2 Ki. 5:11). By demanding that Naaman wash in the Jordan River – instead of allowing him to wash in waters belonging to Aram or to Aramean gods – Elisha asserted the supremacy of Israel’s God over Aramean gods.
This carefully orchestrated event left its mark on Naaman; afterward, he would say, “Now I know there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (2Ki. 5:15).
There is irony there… a pagan warrior’s eyes recognized what so many in Israel refused to see.
Elisha wanted to make sure Naaman’s eyes were drawn to God, not Elisha.
We should be careful, when ding a Godly act, that we are pointing others to God in the process.
Naaman evidently thought Elisha should be impressed to have such a celebrity as a patient. But, Elisha simply prescribed a menial cure that Naaman thought was beneath him. In fact, Naaman was ready to turn around and go back home… until the cooler heads of his devoted servants convinced him to do what Elisha had instructed. His submission to this simple treatment led to the healing of his disease, and its wounds and scars.
As God did with Naaman, He will meet our needs… but not on our terms. God is not impressed by our pride… or intimidated by our demands.
God’s prescription is consistently simple: repentance, followed by whole-hearted acceptance of His free gift of salvation.
Is your pride standing in the way of a closer relationship with God? Or with someone else? Confess your sin… and make things right today!
* Pride is often the last barrier between us and God’s gifts.
You can read Naaman’s story in 2Kings 5:1-27.