Naaman, the Foreigner Who was Healed by the Lord of Hosts (2 Kings 5:1-14)

Naaman, the Foreigner Who was Healed by the Lord of Hosts (2 Kings 5:1-14)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on October 13, 2019

Robert Chesebrough believed in his product. He’s the fellow who invented Vaseline, a petroleum jelly refined from rod wax, the ooze that forms on shafts of oil rigs. He so believed in the healing properties of his product that he became his own guinea pig. He burned himself with acid and flame; he cut and scratched himself so often and so deeply that he bore the scars of his tests the rest of his life. But he proved his product worked. People had only to look at his wounds, now healed, to see the value of his work–and the extent of his belief.[1]

We are going to look at a passage dealing with faith. We are going to look at a man who had to trust that he could be healed by a prophet of God.

My theme: Naaman, the Foreigner Who was Healed by the Lord of Hosts (2 Kings 5:1-14)

Let’s read 2 Kings 5:1-14:

Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.” Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” He departed and took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes.

He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.”

It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”11 But Naaman was furious 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 wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ 12 Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.

  1. In verse 1: Naaman’s disease
    1. Naaman is introduced in this first verse. He is captain of the army of the king of Aram. He is a very high court official as we will see in a little bit.
    2. About Aram I read: The land of Aram, north of the land of Israel, was known by the Greeks as Syria. Current evidence suggests that the Arameans inhabited the upper Euphrates throughout the second millennium, first as villagers and pastoralists, then as a political, national coalition. During this period they are alternately allies and the most troublesome foes of Israel.[2]
    3. He is a great man, meaning highly respected.
    4. Interesting it says that “by him the Lord had given victory to Aram.” One source shares: The author states that the Lord gave Naaman his victories. At first this claim may seem startling because Naaman is not an Israelite. However, 1, 2 Kings emphasize repeatedly God’s sovereignty over all nations and all people. The Lord has already laid claim to ownership of Syria’s political future (1 Kgs 19:15). Surely he can work on behalf of a Syrian, if only to discipline Israel for idolatry (cf. 2 Kgs 13:3). The Lord also has sent the prophets earlier to non-Israelites (1 Kgs 17:7–24), so it is not surprising for him to deal with Naaman here.[3]
    5. He is a valiant warrior, but he is a leper.
    6. That is a major statement in that day and age.
    7. Leper just means a skin disease that can take various forms. I read: There is an allusion here to the difference between the Syrians and the Israelites in their views of leprosy. Whereas in Israel lepers were excluded from human society (see at Lev. 13 and 14), in Syria a man afflicted with leprosy could hold a very high state-office in the closest association with the king.[4]
    8. In Luke 4:27 Jesus referenced this account: And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, yet none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.[5]
  2. In verses 2-5: Naaman’s determination
    1. Verse 2 is sad to me. There is a little girl who was taken captive during a raid. This is very sad. This was an Aramean raid on probably Israel. My heart breaks when I read this. I think of my daughters being taken captive because of some war. Then, at a young age they are forced to be slaves. Unfortunately, this still happens. This happens even in the U.S. with sex trafficking.
    2. This little girls is a servant of Naaman.
    3. In verse 3 she talks to her mistress, this seems to be a wife of Naaman or one of his wives or a woman who leads the servants. This little girl wants Naaman to get help from a prophet in Samaria. Samaria was the capitol of the northern kingdom of Israel. Elisha was a prophet in the northern kingdom. She says that this prophet could cure him.
    4. Interesting that apparently she cares. Even though she is a prisoner of war, she cares. This could be Stockholm syndrome: this means that a captive starts to identify with his or her captors. Or, maybe she thought she would get better treatment if she helps him. Or, maybe they were just really nice to her. I hope the latter. It seems that she may be like Daniel, Mordecai, Ezra, Nehemiah and others who would be exiled but good servants to their pagan country.
    5. In verse 4 Naaman goes in to tell his master what the girl said. Who was his master? It seems by context, looking at the next verse that his master was the local king.
    6. In verse 5 we see that this does get back to the king of Aram and the king of Aram sends a letter to the king of Israel. They were going to pay the king of Israel for this:
      1. Ten talents of silver,
      2. Six thousand shekels of gold,
  • Ten changes of clothes.
  1. About this gift I read: The gift accompanying Naaman is exorbitant—a king’s ransom. Ten talents equals thirty thousand shekels, about seven hundred fifty pounds of silver. The six thousand shekels of gold equals about one hundred fifty pounds (one gold shekel equaled fifteen silver shekels). Converted to today’s buying power, it would be in the vicinity of three-quarters of a billion dollars. One can get an idea of the proportions by understanding that a typical wage would have been ten silver shekels per year, and one gold shekel would purchase one ton of grain.[6]
  • In verses 6-8: Naaman’s determination and the king of Aram to the king of Israel followed by Elisha’s response
    1. Now, the king of Israel is receiving this letter.
    2. I read: A number of examples exist of kings sending to other kings for help in the area of healing sickness. Babylonian exorcists were prized by the Hittites, and Egyptian doctors were famed for their healing skills, especially in their treatment of eye diseases.[7]
    3. The letter is coming but so is Naaman.
    4. Verse 7 shows that the king of Israel reacted in outrage; He tore his clothes. The tearing of robes, especially royal robes, was a sign of mourning. This would have signaled a national crisis or tragedy. We are never told which king of Israel this is, though much of Elisha’s interaction is with Jehoram.[8]
      1. He actually thinks that the king of Aram is seeking a quarrel. However, one source notes the Syrian king imagining, according to his heathen notions of priests and goëtes,[9]that Joram could do what he liked with his prophets and their miraculous powers. There was no ground, therefore, for the suspicion which Joram expressed.[10]
      2. I wonder if he thought it was a test. You cannot heal Naaman so we go to war.
    5. In verse 8, Elisha hears about this. Elisha pretty much acts like: why did you tear your clothes, why not send them to me? Elisha says, send them to me and let them know that there is a prophet in Israel.
    6. It seems as though Elisha is saying that they may not have prophets, but we do!
  1. In verses 9-13: Naaman and Elisha
    1. Now, Naaman comes to Elisha.
    2. Notice that Naaman comes with horses and chariots. He comes right to Elisha’s doorway.
    3. Elisha was ready. Elisha gives him a simple message.
    4. “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean.”
    5. In verse 11 Naaman is upset, he was not just upset, he was furious. He wanted something dramatic.
      1. Do I want instant gratification?
      2. It seems that Naaman wanted the McDonald’s way.
  • It seems likely that he is advanced in the military and he was used to having things his way. It does not work that way in God’s Kingdom. We pray and we wait and we seek the Lord.
  1. God has a plan.
  1. Naaman continues in verse 12. He is basically asking why the rivers of Damascus are not good enough. He thinks the rivers of Damascus are better. The waters in those rivers are beautiful and clear whereas the waters in the Jordan are muddy. Why the Jordan River?
  2. He goes away in a rage.
  3. Swindoll shares: Naaman was furious.” Of the six primary Hebrew words referring to anger, this is perhaps the strongest. It usually describes God’s righteous wrath toward sin. Naaman was angry because his encounter with God met with none of his personal expectations. (That still happens.)
  4. He expected to be taken seriously by the prophet. Naaman was a man who commanded armies. When he spoke, people jumped to action. His mere presence brought others to their knees. He was important and probably thought that the prophet ought to be impressed to think a man of his rank and authority would even show up at his obscure little village.[11]
    1. How do we react when things do not turn out our way?
    2. Do we go away in a rage?
  • Do we go away in tears?
  1. How do we handle disappointment?
  2. Pr 14:17 A person who has a quick temper does foolish things, and a person with crafty schemes is hated.
  3. Pr 16:32 Better to be slow to anger than to be a mighty warrior, and one who controls his temper is better than one who captures a city.
  • Pr 19:11 A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
  1. In verse 13 we see the servants speak to him. They speak respectably, addressing him as “my father…” basically, they say that this is so simple, why not try it. If the prophet asked something else would you have done it?
  2. The obvious answer is yes.
  3. The funny thing is that Naaman came close to not being healed because it was too simple. This happens today.
  4. The Gospel is simple. Our eternal life is free. My dad often tells me that I am in sales too, but what I sell is free. That is true, but I wonder if people would take the Gospel more seriously if it costs money.
  1. Verse 14: Naamon obeys Elisha and is healed.
    1. Naaman now obeys.
    2. He is restored, but not just a little bit, his flesh is now like the flesh of a child.
    3. He was clean, certain skin diseases make one unclean.
  2. Some applications (a few of these come from Swindoll’s Book, Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives)[12]
    1. Only when we acknowledge our own sin-sick state will we seek cleansing. We, as Christians must understand that we are sinners in need of a Savior and our spiritual healing is free.
    2. Our spiritual healing is simple too.
    3. Only when we hear the truth will we discover the path to cleansing. We need to hear the truth just like Naaman did. The truth is in the Gospel and in the Word of God.
    4. Only when we reach the end of our own way will we be ready to follow the Lord’s. Some of us need to reach the bottom before we realize we need God’s help. You have all most likely been there. Has there been a time when you kept trying to work something out on your own, but eventually you realized you needed help?
    5. Fourth, only when we do as God requires will we receive His cleansing.
    6. Are you being obedient to the Lord? Some of us may be wanting God’s help but still living in the flesh. Some of us want God’s favor but will not surrender to Him. Are you surrendered to the Lord? Are you seeking the Lord?
    7. I notice Naaman’s rage in verses 11-12, we must watch our anger and get rid of it. Instead of being angry seek the Lord, pray about things, get help, write in a journal, go for a walk.

The powerful, pleading words of a Scottish preacher provide a fitting conclusion: 

I advise you to get over your temper, and to try that very way that you have up till now been so hot and so loud against. It will humble you to do it, and you are not a humble man; but if you ever come back from Jordan with your flesh like the flesh of a little child, you’ll be the foremost to confess that you had almost been lost through your pride, and your prejudice, and your ill-nature. . . .

You all know, surely, what the true leprosy is. You all know what the leprosy of your own soul is. It is sin; yes, it is sin . . . it is yourself. . . . O leper! leper! go out with thy loathsome and deadly heart . . . Go wash in Jordan. Go in God’s name. Go in God’s strength. Go in God’s pity, and patience, and mercy. . . . Go this moment. 

Do you know Jesus?

Luke 9:23:

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

[1] Ralph Walker, Concord, North Carolina. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 1.

[2] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:1.

[3] Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 271.

[4] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 224.

[5] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), Lk 4:27.

[6] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:5.

[7] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:6.

[8] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 5:7.

[9] The term góētes (γόητες), RV “impostors,” AV “seducers,” is used of a class of magicians who uttered certain magical formulae in a deep, low voice (cf the vb. goáō[γοάω], which = “to sigh,” “to utter low moaning tones”). Herodotus (ii.33) says that there were persons of the kind in Egypt, and they are mentioned also by Euripides and Plato.[9]

[10] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 224.

[11] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

[12] Excerpt From: Charles R. Swindoll. “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/fascinating-stories-of-forgotten-lives/id614832271

 

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