His work: Naaman was the commander of Syria's army.
His character: A brave man lauded for his military victories, his position would have guaranteed considerable respect in both Syria (known as Aram) and Israel. He would have been accustomed to getting his way, especially with social inferiors, which is what he may have considered Elisha and most everyone else in Israel. His no-nonsense approach made it difficult for him to follow Elisha's instructions.
His sorrow: Naaman suffered from leprosy, not the illness we call Hansen's Disease, but a skin disorder so serious that he left his country to seek healing in Israel.
His triumph: To have received not only the healing he asked for, but a relationship with the one true God.
Key Scriptures:2 Kings 5; Luke 4:27
A Look at the Man
Naaman, a man whose success as a military commander placed him close to the king of Syria, was faced with a choice. Listen to his wife's servant girl, to the lowly messenger of a prophet, and to one of his own servants, and obey. Or return home with his dignity intact but without the healing he longed for. It wasn't an easy choice for a proud man to make. Give up your sense of how things should go, of how people should treat you, of how you should conduct yourself for the chance—not the certainty—of being healed.
Naaman nearly made the mistake of cherishing his pride at the cost of the miracle he desired. Yet something inside him asserted itself, some hope that perhaps the prophet's crazy instructions were not as crazy as they seemed. So he took a chance, deciding to let go of his own ideas of how his healing should be accomplished, deciding to let go of his own perceptions of how the universe should be ordered.
Naaman's obedience would have felt uncomfortable. How much easier it would have been to play it safe and do what came naturally—to nurse his anger and preserve his dignity. Instead, Naaman did exactly as he was told, and his obedience opened his heart to a greater miracle than the one for which he longed. Instead of a proud man, he became a humble one. Instead of a man incapable of knowing God, he became a man who knew and celebrated the fact that in all the earth there is only one God, the God who loved him and made him whole.
Reflect On:2 Kings 5:15–17Praise God: For offering salvation as a free gift to all.
Offer Thanks: For God’s gift of salvation to you.
Confess: Any tendency you may have to think that God cannot or will not work in the lives of certain individuals, groups, or nations.
Ask God: To give you a heart as loving as his for those who are far from him.