Upcoming: Old Testament for 2.12.06
Naaman, leprosy, humility …
Used to be an old gospel song about this story – anyone remember the name of it or have a copy? I found for a fictionalized view that makes a number of the cultural implications clearer at In Touch (you can click on names like that – they’re linked – to read the things mentioned. Then click “back” to come – you guessed it – back.)
2 Kings 5:1-14
1Naaman was general of the army under the king of Aram. He was important to his master, who held him in the highest esteem because it was by him that GOD had given victory to Aram: a truly great man, but afflicted with a grievous skin disease. 2It so happened that Aram, on one of its raiding expeditions against Israel, captured a young girl who became a maid to Naaman’s wife. 3One day she said to her mistress, “Oh, if only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease.”
4Naaman went straight to his master and reported what the girl from Israel had said.
5″Well then, go,” said the king of Aram. “And I’ll send a letter of introduction to the king of Israel.”
So he went off, taking with him about 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothes. 6Naaman delivered the letter to the king of Israel. The letter read, “When you get this letter, you’ll know that I’ve personally sent my servant Naaman to you; heal him of his skin disease.”
[Wait a minute – how come N. got sent to the king? That’s not who the girl recommended!]
7When the king of Israel read the letter, he was terribly upset, ripping his robe to pieces. He said, “Am I a god with the power to bring death or life that I get orders to heal this man from his disease? What’s going on here? That king’s trying to pick a fight, that’s what!”
[Apparently he thinks Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, has sent Naaman on an impossible errand in order to give an excuse for war]
8Elisha the man of God heard what had happened, that the king of Israel was so distressed that he’d ripped his robe to shreds. He sent word to the king, “Why are you so upset, ripping your robe like this? Send him to me so he’ll learn that there’s a prophet in Israel.”
9So Naaman with his horses and chariots arrived in style and stopped at Elisha’s door.
10Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”
[Black limos roll up to the preacher’s house!
What’s God up to, here? First, N. hears about this via a servant girl. Second, it isn’t the king’s medical staff to whom he’s sent. Third, the prophet – with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on his doorstep – doesn’t even come to the door! Doesn’t send him to Walter Reed. Sends a message: “Go wash in the crick.”]
11Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of GOD, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. 12The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean.” He stomped off, mad as a hornet.
[Eyuh, that’ll fix that prophet, alright.]
13But his servants caught up with him and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple “wash and be clean’?”
[Zow – how often I’ve dreamed of being a hero, rather than just doing what God asked. Is this about trust and grace – like accepting God’s gifts rather than earning them?]
14So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new.
The Message © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson