Two things come to mind in reading the story of Naaman, the great Syrian military officer who suffered from leprosy. One is the importance of listening to good advice that comes even from the meekest, humblest voice. The other is how easy it is to let arrogance lead to misunderstanding and anger, preventing us from living in God’s will.
Naaman’s army captured a young girl from Israel and put her to work as a servant for his wife. It was was this young girl, enslaved by strangers, far from home, who suggested to Naaman’s wife that he should seek healing from Elisha in Israel. The king of Syria sent a note to the king of Israel introducing Naaman and asking for help in healing his leprosy. The king of Israel became enraged, saying, “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.” Of course, the king of Syria was not seeking a quarrel. He was looking for help for his friend. Elisha heard of the King’s reaction and asked to send Naaman his way. When Naaman arrived at Elisha’s house, Elisha sent a messenger to tell Naaman to bathe seven times in the Jordan River and he would be healed. Naaman was furious that Elisha had not received him personally and thought it ridiculous to bathe in the Jordan when they had perfectly good rivers in Syria. But it was Naaman’s servant who basically said, “Why not give it a try? If Elisha had asked some great, brave thing of you, you would have done it. What could it hurt to bathe in the Jordan?” And so, Naaman was healed.
While the arrogance and suspiciousness of both the king of Israel and Naaman were obstacles, it was the quiet advice of two servants that brought Naaman to healing. However, lest we begin to think all servants are saints, keep reading. The story only gets more interesting!
Appointed readings for today: 2 Kings 5:1-15b, Psalm 42:1-7, Luke 4:23-30