LESSONS FROM NAAMAN
II Kings 5:1-14 tells us about one of the more well known cases of healing in the Old Testament. This story tells of a man named Naaman who was healed of leprosy by God. In this article, we will discuss the story of Naaman and then draw some important lessons.
Naaman was a captain in the Syrian army. He was highly esteemed, honored, and was considered a “mighty man in valor.” However, he had one very large problem—he was a leper. Leprosy was a very dreaded disease in Naaman’s day. It was usually incurable and would generally bring a very slow but sure death. There were some lighter degrees which would not incapacitate a man for military service, and this was apparently the type of leprosy Naaman had. There was, however, always the chance that a lighter degree would develop into a more severe form.
The Syrian army had apparently captured some slaves in one of their wars with Israel. Among them was a young girl who had become an attendant for Naaman’s wife. The young maid told her of a prophet in Samaria who could heal Naaman of his disease. Naaman, upon learning of this prophet, went to Israel bringing gifts and carrying a letter from his king to the King of Israel.
The King of Israel was dismayed when he read the letter. The letter said, “I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.” It seems as if the King of Israel did not know about Elisha and felt Syria was trying to start a war (vs. 7). The King of Syria thought this impossible request would be used as an excuse for one. Amidst all of this turmoil, Elisha heard about what had happened and sent for Naaman. When Naaman got to Elisha’s house, Elisha sent a messenger to him and told him to go and wash in the Jordan River seven times, and he would be healed. Naaman was greatly upset with this request. He felt Elisha should come out with some majestic scene and strike the leprosy from him. He did not follow Elisha’s instruction at first, but finally he was persuaded by his servants to do so. He dipped as he was told and was healed of his disease. Verse 14 says, “. . . and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
Naaman is described in verse one as “Captain of the host of the king of Syria,” “a great man with his master,” “honorable,” and “a mighty man in valor.” He would have been in a very excellent position in the eyes of the people of his day. However, he had one large drawback. He was a leper. Leprosy was such a dreaded disease that it would have probably kept most of the men who served under Naaman from ever wanting to change places with him.
Today there are many people who are in an excellent position in the eyes of men. They might, for example, have a nice home, a fine family, a good job, and perhaps be a respected civic leader. However, such individuals might also have one large drawback. They could be without Christ and in a lost condition. Their drawback would be much greater than Naaman’s. These should get rid of their drawback by obeying Christ.
Matthew 16:26 says, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul” or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” From a physical standpoint, one can be doing well. However, if he has the one big drawback of being without God, then he has nothing.
Naaman Was Prejudice
Elisha sent out a messenger and told Naaman to dip in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman was angry about this request. He said, “Behold, I thought, he will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.” (Vs. 11) He had already decided how God, through Elisha, should cure him. When it turned out to be a different method, he became angry and at first would not obey.
Many are like Naaman in this respect concerning God’s Will today. They already have their minds made up about what they believe. When someone points out to them what the Bible actually teaches, they get angry and refuse to accept what is taught. The Bible does not fit their preconceived ideas so they refuse to accept it. We certainly need to approach God’s Word with an open mind and be willing to accept what it says (James 1:21). Our soul depends on it.
Simple Command Led to The Cure
Naaman must have felt Elisha’s cure was too simple. He could not see that the water had anything to do with his cure. Using human reasoning, he felt even if a body of water was going to be used, the rivers of Damascus would be much better than the dirty Jordan.
Often, we present teaching to people on the subject of baptism. It is pointed out that Acts 22:16 teaches baptism washes away sins, and Mark 16:16 teaches it is necessary to be baptized to be saved. Some, upon hearing the teaching from these passages say, “How could baptism have anything to do with salvation, why that’s ‘water salvation’ for sure?”
What did the water have to do with Naaman’s cure? It is obvious the water had no medicinal value. Instead, Naaman’s act was simply an act of obedience. It was what God told Naaman to do. It was a condition he had to meet to receive the cure, and it was not really a “water cure.”
Similarly, the water used in baptism today is a condition which God has given us which is necessary for salvation, and we must comply with this condition. As Naaman’s cure was not a “water cure,” our salvation is not “water salvation.” The water may seem insignificant, but if it is a condition given by God, then it is significant.
When a physician gives us a remedy, we don’t usually spend all day discussing it—we simply take it. The same is true of baptism. We ought to be willing to accept what the Scriptures say on this subject and be willing to obey.