Study 8 THE CLEANSING OF NAAMAN
Studies in the Life of Elisha
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 2 Kings 5: 1-15)
Of all the incidents connected with Elisha’s ministry the story of the cleansing of Naaman is probably the best known. In 15 verses we read of his discovery that he was a leper, then a ray of hope, and finally his miraculous healing. The story appeals to us because it finds a parallel in our own experience. As we read of Naaman we put ourselves in the picture. Instead of Naaman, it is our name; in place of leprosy, it is sin; and instead of the River Jordan, we stand in awe at “the place which is called Calvary” (Luke 23:33), where “the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The story divides naturally into five chapters.
1. NAAMAN WAS A GREAT MAN
Some people live and die without achieving anything of importance, whereas others rise to fame and make a name for themselves. Such was Naaman (verse 1). Wherever he went he was acclaimed. He was “a commander…a great man…highly regarded…”; by him the Lord had accomplished much, and he was “a valiant soldier”. A great man indeed – courageous, popular, dependable! But:-
2. NAAMAN HAD A SERIOUS DISEASE
The last five words in verse 1 tell us that beneath his splendid uniform was the loathsome disease of leprosy. Do you know anyone like that? Success? Yes, but beneath it tragedy and sorrow. “A great man…but he had leprosy”. Is that your story? Only God and you know the leprosy, the sin, in your heart; it is hidden from others, but God sees it (1 Samuel 16:7). This is a picture of tens of thousands of our fellow-men – decent, moral, kind, but they have sinful hearts. They are unbelievers and are therefore spiritually diseased, and they never go to worship God. What chance have they of entering into the kingdom of God?
3. NAAMAN HAD A GENTLE MAID IN HIS HOUSEHOLD
Verses 2 – 4 tell us that this little girl had been captured and brought away from her home and loved-ones. In that home she had learned to trust in the living God, and now she was not only a believer but a witnessing believer. When she discovered her master was a leper she was filled with compassion for him, and she felt she must witness to God’s power, ability and willingness to cure Commander Naaman. The Naamans had entertained an angel unawares – look up Isaiah 11:6. The wonderful thing is that Naaman was not too proud to listen to the testimony of the little girl! In verse 5 we are told that the King of Syria arranged for Naaman to go to the land of Israel to get the cure he so much needed. If only sin-sick souls would just try the Great Physician! Naaman did this, but notice that:-
4. NAAMAN MADE THREE GRAVE MISTAKES.
He was wise in listening to the little girl, but foolish in not following her advice. What were his mistakes?
- 1. First, he thought he could BUY the cure. Verse 5 says that he took with him a very great deal of money. One talent of silver required two bags to be carried, see v 23, and in addition to this he took “six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of clothing”! What a gift! But all the money in the world cannot cure a man of spiritual leprosy…of sin…see 1 Peter 1:18-19. Many people think they can earn their salvation, but God’s Word clearly states that salvation is a gift that has to be received, and we can do nothing to earn it – look up Romans 3:20; Titus 3:5.
- 2. Second, he went to the WRONG PLACE to be cured. He went to the king instead of to Elisha (verse 6). Many today are knocking at the wrong door for salvation: for example, at the door of confession to a priest (1 Timothy 2:5); at the door of Spiritism or some other false cult; at the door of respectability or of church affiliation. There is only one door – John 10:9; there is only one place where the leprosy of sin can be dealt with, and that is at the feet of Jesus –
Luke 7:37-38, 48-50.
- 3. Third, he wanted to be cured IN HIS OWN WAY, and not in God’s way. God’s way is outlined in verse 10, and verses 11-12 tell us of Naaman’s reaction when he learned of God’s method of cleansing. Many people want their way and not God’s, and how different their way is from God’s – look up Isaiah 55:8-9! But look at verse 13. God’s way is simple and effective: for example, we are saved by turning (Isaiah 45:22); by calling (Romans 10:13); by coming (Matthew 11:28); by welcoming (Revelation 3:20); by entering (John 10:9); by touching (Matthew 14:36); by receiving (John 1:12). If you have never done so, will you try it? – look at verse 13 again!
5. NAAMAN WAS CURED BY A GLORIOUS MIRACLE
Notice several things that need emphasising in verse 14:-
- 1. There was A GREAT HUMBLING. We read that Naaman “went down”. His pride had to go and in front of all his officers and servants this mighty man had to go down, down, down… Whenever men and women are determined to be saved they will do anything rather than miss the blessing.
- 2. There was PERFECT OBEDIENCE. In verse 10 the prophet said “seven times”, and thus “seven times” Naaman dipped himself beneath the water. Can you hear the watchers counting, “One…two…three…” as he goes down? After six dippings Naaman was still a leper, and only when he perfected his obedience by dipping the seventh time did the miracle take place. When anyone takes God at His word He always performs the miracle for them – look up Romans 10:9-10.
- 3. There was A COMPLETE CURE. The last part of verse 14 tells us this – and compare 2 Corinthians 5:17.
There is still one very beautiful thing to notice in this story which is more wonderful and more to be desired than physical healing, even than being cleansed from our sin. Look at verse 15. Naaman was now absolutely convinced that there was a God in Heaven, and from now on he was determined to make this God his God, to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him and to make Him known to others!
Closing Thought: Isaiah 1:18 and Luke 5:31.