2 Kings 5:1-14 Now, Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a might man of valor, but a leper. And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” An Naaman went in and told his master saying, “Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel:. Then the king of Syria said, “Go now and I will send a letter to the king of Israel” So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, ” Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.” And it happened when the king of Israel read the letter that he tore his clothes and said, “Am I god, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore, please consider and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.” So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying “Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him saying,”Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean”. But Naaman became furious and went away and said,”Indeed I said to myself, ‘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 heal the leprosy. Are not Abanah and the 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 and servants came near and spoke to him and said,”My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash and be clean?” So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he as clean.
I know it’s long, but it resonates with myself and many people around me. Probably you too. This is a story that describes to me the contrast between pride and humility. There are two types of people here.
First, we have Naaman, who is a mighty warrior, most respected by his master, the king of Syria, but is stricken with a deadly disease that keeps him from enjoying his success with his nation. You know the rules of leprosy. Basically, if you have it, you are an outcast and cannot come near the rest of the population for fear of infecting everyone. You would think he would be humbled considering what he must endure with the stigma of leprosy. Bear with me, here. We also have the king of Syria, who believes his word will influence other kings to do his bidding. Both of these guys seem to be full of pride and thirst for power and control.
Second, we have the girl who was captured from Israel. You’d think she would hate Naaman and wish him dead. Secretly gloating that he is stricken with this horrible disease. She doesn’t. She tells his wife about the prophet of God in Samaria who can heal him instead. Then, we have the king of Israel who, when he read the letter from the king of Syria, was so upset that he tore his clothes (a sign of anguish and mourning). He immediately renounced the letter when he said, “Am I God?” I take this to mean that he is demonstrating to God personally that he does not want anyone to view him as being higher that God. He acknowledges his lack of power and God’s almighty power. Both of these characters are full of humility, not caring how the rest of the world views them, only how God sees them.
When Elisha sent word to the king of Israel to send Naaman to him, I believe Naaman should have gotten a clue right then that he was dealing with something completely new to him. After all, the king did what Elisah told him to do. While we know it’s because the king recognized God as being Almighty, and knew that Elisha was His prophet, Naaman had not idea the power he was facing. If Naaman had any humility in him, he would have seen this and stopped to think before he whined about how Elisha didn’t physically come out to do any theatrics to heal him. It was Naaman’s servants who had to point out to him the significance of the different instructions he received versus the instructions he expected.
What’s my point? I believe we all have more Naaman in us than we have the captive girl. We look for revenge rather than showing God’s love. We want to dictate our success rather than give God all the glory for every good thing we have in our lives. We expect God to answer our prayers within a certain time period and with great miraculous theatrics rather than trusting completely that God is wiser than us all. I think it’s time we get back to understanding what scope of power we are really confronting when we are speaking to God and know that we are only instruments used at His discretion. I think we are all infected with this disease called pride and it would do us a lot of good to go and wash in the Jordan seven times to show God our willingness to be cleansed His Way and not our own.