Daily Thought for: 22nd February

GO AND WASH IN JORDAN SEVEN TIMES

2 Kings 5. 1-14

Naaman is introduced to us as he was seen by men, v. 1. We learn not only of: (a) his position - he was commander-in-chief of the Syrian army; (b) his prestige - he was ‘a great man with his mas­ter’ and highly respected, ‘honourable’; and (c) his prowess - he was a valiant warrior and through him the Lord had deliv­ered his nation from their enemies; but we learn also of (d) his problem - he was ‘leprous’, literal translation.

When Naaman’s hopes were raised by the witness of his wife’s young Israelite servant girl, he naturally thought in terms of the leverage to be exerted by power and wealth. He set out for the palace of the king of Israel equipped with large quantities of gold, silver and fine clothes, and with a personal letter of intro­duction from his own monarch. It must have been an imposing sight when, in response to Elisha’s summons, Naaman rode up in his chariot and finery to the prophet’s dwelling. But, con­trary to his expectation, there was no ‘red carpet’ treatment for him; simply a command, relayed to him through a messenger, instructing him to ‘wash in Jordan seven times’, coupled with the promise that by so doing he would be clean.

Naaman was not amused! His pride had been wounded. He had his own preconceived ideas about how his healing should take place. Having regard to the respect due to his station and authority, he fully expected Elisha to greet him personally, afford him his undivided attention, summon the aid of ‘the Lord his God’, wave his hand dramatically over the affected place, and so remove his leprosy. But Elisha knew that Naaman’s leprosy had not humbled his pride, and that, if the man’s soul was to be cleansed as well as his body, he must first be brought low. The price of healing which God demanded from Naaman was ‘the obedience of faith’. It was the very simplicity of the cure which proved the stumbling block to him - much as today, the simplic­ity of the gospel prevents many from accepting it. In the event, taking heed to the wise counsel of his servants, Naaman swal­lowed his pride, washed his body and shed his leprosy - going on to exchange the worship of his former god for the worship of the only ‘God in all the earth’, vv. 15,17.

 

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