Naaman the Leper
(2 Kings 5:1-27)

Rev. Jim Bogle, given March 4, 2007

Rhea F. Miller wrote, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; Id rather be His than have riches untold...I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.”

How about you this morning? What is more important to you this morning than your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?

2 Kings 5:1-5

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.

Naaman was an honorable man.  God recognized that trait! Even though an enemy of Israel, he was nonetheless a man of honor and integrity.

In spite of all the honor and applause that Naaman had received from his king and the people of the nation, he was a man with a dark cloud hanging over his head. He was a man dieing of the dreaded disease of leprosy. There was no cure, and in Naaman’s mind, there was no hope for the future.

But God speaks to him through a still small voice...

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.

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.

Paraphrase: “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

This little maid has now become a servant girl in the home of strangers. She’s a mother’s sweet little daughter, and she’s away from home, in a new and strange land.

But note three things about this little Jewish maiden

1.       She has not forgotten the LORD!

Many forget the Lord when they visit other countries. The old saying goes “When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do.” They somehow forget that the Lord of their homeland is also the Lord of all lands.

The little maiden girl had not forgotten her LORD!

Many forget the Lord the moment they’re out of town. They feel a certain freedom to explore those forbidden areas that they otherwise wouldn’t explore at all if they were at home.

Still others forget the Lord the moment they’re out of church. On Sunday morning they pray, “Our Father...,” and yet the rest of the week they act like orphans.

This little Jewish maiden girl had not forgotten the Lord.

2.       This little maiden refuses to render evil for evil.

In whatever way she could help her master, she was willing to try! 

3.       She was bold and courageous in sharing her faith.

Even to suggest to a Syrian, who worshipped many gods, the God of Israel was more powerful, could have cost her life...but not so with Naaman.

4: And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.

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.

The world’s attitude is that the Christian’s God blesses at a PRICE!

If you want to be blessed by the Christian’s God – go to church.

If you want to be blessed by the Christian’s God – give money.

If you want to be blessed by the Christian’s God – be good and kind to others.

So the world believes that God blesses for a price! But the truth of the matter is that the human heart can own the whole world and still not have enough to purchase, or to deserve, one blessing from the hand of God. The price for every prayer answered, and every blessing received from God’s hand to the heart of man came by way of the shed blood of Calvary. There is not enough money in the known Universe to purchase one blessing from God.

Jacob understood only too well the priceless and marvelous grace, truth, and mercy of God when he said…

Genesis 32:10

I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant;

And so the king of Syria, not understanding the marvelous grace of God, provides his beloved General with a letter and a handsome reward to be delivered to the one who is able to cure General Naaman of his leprosy.

2 Kings 5:6-7

6: And he [Naaman] 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.

7: And it came to pass, when the king of Israel [Jehoram, the youngest son of Ahab and Jezebel] 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.

The king doesn’t intercede with the Lord on behalf of Naaman because he doesn’t know how.  The king of Israel is out of touch with the God of Israel. He rends his clothes and falls to the ground crying in fear that Naaman has come to destroy him.

Consider this contrast: The little maid girl, living in captivity, had faith in God, and she had the love of God and the peace of God reigning in her heart. She sent Naaman to see the great prophet Elisha.

But the king, the very ruler of God’s people, had no faith, was paranoid, living daily in fear and doubt! He didn’t know the first thing about the PEACE of God.

Isaiah 26:3

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:

The king of Israel considers the letter an attempt by the king of Syria to come against him.

2 Kings 5:8-12

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.

9: So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.

Here is Naaman, now at the door of the Prophet Elisha. He expects at any moment the Prophet will come out and bow before him and entreat him as Syrian custom demands entreatment.

But God is not going to cure Syrian custom, or Syrian authority, or Syrian PRIDE! Nor is God going to cure the GENERAL. God is going to cure the MAN, Naaman. 

And in order for this to happen, Naaman is going to have to be the one to acknowledge the higher power. Naaman is going to have to show humility. And Naaman is going to have to demonstrate faith and obedience to the Word of God!

10: And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.

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.

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.

Naaman expected a great show! He expected some great miracle to be called down from heaven by the prophet, and his leprosy would be instantly cleansed and cured.

Naaman’s leprosy was an enemy to his future happiness, but he had a far worse enemy in his own heart...the enemy of PRIDE!

James 4:6

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

1 Peter 5:5 clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

God is not going to work a miracle in the life of the man that thinks he deserves it!

Naaman’s pride was standing in the way of LIFE! And his servants had the courage to tell him so...

1 Kings 5:13-19

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?

It’s a simple thing that the Prophet commands! It is a simple thing that the LORD asks of any man. Believe My Word and act upon My Word.

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.  (and might I add that he was also ecstatic!)

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 earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.

Might I suggest to you that this is not a payment that Naaman feels is necessary, but a gift that he desires to give because of his great joy! But still, Elisha knows that such blessings from God are not to be enriched upon by the Prophet. These are gifts of God’s grace!

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.

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.

The Pulpit Commentary says:

“Some suppose that Naaman intended to make the earth into an altar upon which he might offer his sacrifices:  But the more general opinion is that he wished to spread the earth over a piece of Syrian ground, and thereby to hallow the ground for the purposes of worship.”

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.

19: And he said unto him, Go in peace.  So he departed from him a little way.

Naaman has been in touch with the true God of all Creation, and his life has been changed forever. He will not worship any other God, but the God of Israel. And he asks pardon of Elisha for the times when it will be necessary for him to go into the pagan temples with his king to assist him in his worship, but he himself would not worship the pagan gods of Syria any longer.

A WONDERFUL WORK HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED IN THE LIFE OF THIS MAN, Naaman.  And it all started with the testimony of a little Jewish maiden, who had the faith to believe that God would work a miracle for her master.

If you’re here this morning and you’ve never made a personal commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ you, too, are dying of a terminal illness called sin.

The Bible says,

Romans 6:23

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD.

But in every good work of Christ, there is the destructive work of the devil. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, just could not see turning away all of the wonderful gifts offered by Naaman.

Luke 12:15

Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

Paul told young Timothy,

1 Timothy 6:9-10

9: But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

To Gehazi, Elisha was a fool for rejecting such wonderful goods from Naaman. And he took off after him.

2 Kings 5:20-27

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.

The devil hurries every day to destroy the GRACE of God and the testimony of His people.

Gehazi cared nothing about God’s compassion, mercy, and grace.

Gehazi cared nothing about the honor of his master, Elisha.

And he cared nothing for the good done to Naaman.

His heart is only set upon the goods and riches of this world, and he runs after Naaman.

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?

Note Naaman’s respect for even Elisha’s servant. He lights down from his chariot to meet him.

And Gehazi begins to weave his own web of destruction, by lying to Naaman.

22: And he said, All is well.  My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now here 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.

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.

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.

Gehazi has now been enriched at the expense of Elisha’s reputation. He has great plans for his new found wealth. Tomorrow will be a better day because he has Naaman’s riches!

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.

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?

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.

There are some things that riches cannot accomplish! Riches can’t keep sickness from the door. Riches cannot purchase the pardon of sin, or obtain for a single soul admission into heaven.

The little maiden girl no doubt rejoiced when her prayer was answered! Naaman rejoiced over his new-found strength. But Gehazi went out from his master a leper.

Rhea F. Miller wrote, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I'd rather be His than have riches untold...I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.”

How about you this morning? What is more important to you than your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?

The little Hebrew maid's testimony became a great blessing to her master. Naaman found life in obedience to the Word of God. Gehazi's disobedience won for him the very leprosy that had once bound Naaman.