II Kings 5 introduces us to Naaman, a Syrian, who was “great,” “honorable,” a “mighty man of valor.”
But Naaman was also a leper.
The Syrians had “gone out by companies” and taken captive a little maid from Israel, who served Naaman’s wife.
In modern America, the media and politicians would likely call such military companies “terrorists.” Especially groups that would kidnap and enslave young children.
What was this kidnapped girl’s attitude towards those who had torn her away from everything near and dear to her?
These few words give us insight.
Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
This girl knew that Naaman’s strength was key to the Syrian’s military victories, indeed, part of the reason she was a slave in a foreign country.
If Naaman were healed of leprosy, it could lead to more successes and captures of Israelites.
But she knew that God makes His sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sends His rain on the just and the unjust. Therefore, she recommended—prayed, even, with the “Would God!”—that her slave-master go to Elisha the prophet to be healed of leprosy.
The king of Syria was informed of the girl’s recommendation, and he sent a letter, along with silver, gold, and raiment, to the king of Israel, asking him to heal Naaman of this leprosy.
The king of Israel rent his clothes, suspecting a motive of conflict: “[S]ee how he seeketh a quarrel against me.” But Elisha heard of it, and sent to the king, and told them to send Naaman over.
When Naaman arrived, with his chariots and his military companions, he was instructed to wash in the Jordan seven times.
Naaman went away in a rage. He had expected Elisha to come out to him and strike his hand over him to end the leprosy. But his servants reasoned with him, and Naaman calmed down, dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, and was healed.
He made a committed confession of faith before Elisha, and before all the Syrians accompanying him (v. 15c):
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.
Naaman pressed him, but Elisha still refused.
Elisha knew that spiritual reward in Heaven was more valuable than any tax-payer funded military perk that Naaman might have to offer him.
Furthermore, the healing of God is not something that can be bought or sold. As Jesus would articulate it to His disciples, “Freely ye have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8).”
Naaman proved the commitment of his confession of faith as he went on (vv. 17b & 18),
“[T]hy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. 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.”
“Go in peace,” Elisha responded.
Peace—this carries spiritual and military meaning. Words were not cheap with the prophet of God.
(Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, decided to run after Naaman, and lie to him in order to get himself some money and changes of garment.
When Gehazi came back from this mission of greed, Elisha knew what he had done, and scolded him:
“Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee...”
Gehazi is not alone in this folly: many souls desire the temporal, tax-payer funded treasures of other men more than spiritual, everlasting treasures from God.)
It is unlikely that the Israelite maid was freed from slavery, much less allowed to return to her home. But she had a power far greater than economic power: she had spiritual power, to love and forgive. This power had come to her from God. And that powerful, selfless love conquered the soul of her earthly master.