2 Kings Chapter 5

Elisha was a man of God. He had been blessed with a double portion of the same spirit that rested upon Elijah, and he had the power and authority given by the Lord, to perform mighty miracles. He had parted the Jordan waters, healed water that was not drinkable, filled empty vessels with oil, blessed an older woman to bear a child, raised that child from the dead, made bad (poisonous) food into good food again, and he multiplied food, among other things I am sure. This chapter continues his miracles with the following:

1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.
3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.

The captain over the Syrian host was named Naaman. He was a great, honorable, and mighty man, who, through the blessings of the Lord, had led the Syrians to be delivered from enemies. At this point, Naaman was a leper. When the Syrians had taken some of the Israelites captive, there was a woman who became a maid for Naaman’s wife. She told her mistress that she wished they were near the prophet in Samaria, because he would heal Naaman. Someone who had heard this, went and told Naaman what had been said. The king told Naaman to go to the prophet and that he would send a letter to the king of Israel along with him. Naaaman left with money and clothing, as gifts I believe, and with the letter from the king of Syria. The letter told the king of Israel, that Naaman had been sent there to be healed. When the king of Israel had read it, He tore His clothes for being asked to do something he did not have the power to do. The king felt like this would give the Syrians a reason to fight the Israelites.

8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and 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.
12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Elisha heard that the king had rent his clothes and asked of him why he had done this. He told the king, to send Naaman to him, to show that there was a prophet in Israel. Naaman arrived at Elisha’s door with a chariot and horses, and a messenger was sent to him by Elisha. The messenger told him to go to the Jordan and wash seven times. If he would do this, then he would be clean from leprosy. Naaman was offended by Elisha for sending a servant to speak to him instead of going out to meet Naaman himself and also for not performing some great miracle by healing him. He said that the rivers in Damascus were better than the waters of Israel, as if it was beneath him to be told to wash in the Jordan. In anger, he left, but then his servant went to him and asked if he would have done it if he had been asked to do some greater task. Why wouldn’t he do this simple thing to be made clean? So, Naaman went to the Jordan and washed seven times, just as Elisha had told him. When he did this, a miracle occurred and his skin was as smooth as the skin of a child, and he was made clean.

15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
16 But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’
burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord.
18 In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.
19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.

Naaman went back to Elisha, honoring the Lord by recognizing He was the only God on earth. He offered a gift to Elisha, but Elisha refused the reward. Elisha was not being a prophet so that he could benefit from it. He was a true man of God. Naaman offered two mules to the servant of Elisha, or Naaman asked for two mules himself. Naaman would no longer offer sacrifice to any other god, but he asked for forgiveness for the times when he would need to go with his master into the place where his master worshipped his gods. He would expect that he would have to bow down with the command of his master. Elisha told him to go in peace. Naaman left and went from him just a little way.

20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the Lord liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well?
22 And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.
23 And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him.
24 And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.
25 But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.
26 And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?
27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

The servant of Elisha, Gehazi, was not satisfied with how the exchange between Elisha and Naaman had gone. He questioned Elisha’s choice to refuse the gift from Naaman. Gehazi decided that he would go after Naaman and take some of the gift that had been offered. Naaman saw Gehazi approaching him, and so he got down from his chariot and asked if everything was alright. Gehazi told him that everthing was indeed fine, and that he had been sent to him by Elisha to accept talents of silver and some of the garments that had been offered, to be given to two sons of the prophets that were supposedly on their way. Naaman gave freely to Gehazi and then left. Gehazi went before Elisha and was asked where he had been. Gehazi denied ever leaving, but Elisha knew this was not true. He asked him if it was the right time to receive gifts from Naaman, and knowing that Gehazi had done this thing, he cursed him and his posterity with the leprosy of Naaman. Gehazi left Elisha as a leper.

There are a couple of lessons I can think of when I read the story of Naaman. He was a man who was unwilling to do a simple task in order to receive a great blessing. I believe this was because he thought more of himself. His pride nearly caused him to live in the same state for the remainder of his days. It reminds me so much of the story of the brass serpent. In that story, the Israelites were plagued by poisonous snakes who blocked the way of travel for them. Many were dying and Moses, who was given direction by the Lord, gave them a way out. He made a serpent of brass and put it on a staff. If the Israelites would look to the serpent after being bitten, then by the power of God, they would be healed. If they chose not to look, they would die. Many thought the act of simply looking at the staff, was beneath them. Something so simple, could not save them.
Their pride caused them to die from the serpents’ bites. We live in a time of great spiritual death. Many are choosing to turn from God and separate themselves from him. In an effort to save us from this death, the Lord has given us several simple things to do that can strengthen us and keep us from turning away. Some of these simple things are prayer, scripture study, family home evenings, attending church regularly, partaking of the sacrament, and so on. If we let our pride stop us from believing in the power of something so simple as eating a bite of bread and drinking a small sip of water, we too will die in a spiritual sense. It is so important to put aside our pride and to believe that great things will come from small and simple acts.

Additionally, Naaman teaches me the lesson that I must act in faith for the miracles to happen. The Lord was not going to heal him just because he wanted to be healed, or even because he felt he should be healed. The Lord could have done this, but what would that have done for him? What would that do for us? Our physical, mortal trials and difficulties, are just that, physical and mortal. However, they are not without purpose.
They are part of this mortal existence for a reason. We came here for the opportunity to learn from experience. If the Lord simply healed us without effort on our part, we would never learn anything. We would not have opportunities to choose and to progress. Naaman needed to learn the attributes of humility and faith. The choice to act upon the direction given to him, was an act of humility and faith in words of the prophet. Naaman needed to learn for himself, that the Lord was the only true and living God able to do things that seemed impossible. He did learn that there was no other God “in all the earth”. Because he acted upon the direction with faith, even though it was very little faith, he was blessed by a great miracle. If we take even the tiniest steps of faith, we will be greatly blessed and eventually we will see the miracles of change in our own lives.

While Naaman had to experience humility and follow the words of the prophet, in order to be healed, Gehazi allowed himself to be overcome by his pride. He felt that he knew better than the prophet and took it upon himself to get what he felt was better. He added to that pride, lying and deciept, when he lied to Elisha about where he had been and hid those things which he had received from Naaman. In the end, he got what he deserved for the pride he demonstrated and he would be reminded of that every day for the rest of his life, I am sure. In this story, we can learn how much better off we will be if we put aside our pride and become a humble follower of the words of the prophets. I am grateful for this knowledge and the strong desire in me, to avoid the kind of spiritual disease that pride, lying and deceiving will bring upon me.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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