BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper” (2 Kings 5:1-2 NKJV).
The name Naaman is mainly associated with the commander of the army of Syria, though other people bore the name in the Bible (Genesis 46:21; Numbers 26:40; 1 Chronicles 8:4, 7). The name Naaman means pleasant or pleasantness. My focus in this study is Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, who was a leper and was cured by Prophet Elisha. The story is recorded in 2 Kings 5:1-19.
1 Corinthians 10:11 says, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (NKJV). We are to learn from Bible characters, and not judge them. We should draw lessons from their life stories and the events that happened to them. There are some lessons to learn from the little the Bible has told us about the life of Naaman. I have discussed ten lessons, which are not peculiar to Naaman – they cut across the entire Bible.
The ten lessons
1. God is sovereign. Ordinarily, one would have thought that God would not be concerned about the politics of Syria (Aram), but 2 Kings 5:1 says, through Naaman, God gave great victories to Syria. God had a mission to fulfill through Syria, hence the victories He gave her. Ultimately, everybody is a potential tool in the hand of God. God can use anyone to achieve His purpose.
God is king over all nations and rules in the affairs of men. Daniel 5:21 says the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. He lifts one up and brings down another. 1 Samuel 2:8 says, “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory” (NKJV).
Psalm 113:5-9 says a similar truth: “Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth? He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with princes — with the princes of His people. He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children” (NKJV).
Nobody can query God; He does as He wishes. The clay pot does not argue with the potter or question his wisdom (Isaiah 45:9-10). The LORD said of Cyrus in verse 13, “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways; he shall build My city and let My exiles go free, not for price nor reward” (NKJV).
2. Everybody needs the help of God to excel in life. If you think with your strength alone you are achieving so much, you can achieve even much more with the help of God! In 2 Kings 5:1, the Bible calls Naaman a mighty warrior, but it was not his military prowess alone that gave him these great victories; it was God walking through him.
Another great warrior, David, said it was God who trained him for warfare. “He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze” (2 Samuel 22:35; Psalm 18:34 NKJV). David further emphasized that God was his trainer. “Blessed be the LORD my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle” (Psalm 144:1 NKJV). If God is your coach, how can you lose?
In 1Samuel 17:46-47, David said to Goliath, “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands” (NKJV). The LORD did as David had said.
In another psalm, David said, “Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies” (Psalm 60:11-12 NKJV).
The psalmist says in Psalm 44:5, “Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us” (NKJV). You need the help of God no matter who you are – your wealth, achievements, and credentials. “No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength” (Psalm 33:16-17 NKJV).
Do not trust in horses or chariots, but remember the name of the LORD (Psalm 20:7). Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
God neither delights in the strength of the horse nor takes pleasure in the legs of a man; the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him and hope in His mercy (Psalm 147:10-11). The LORD says it is not by might or by power, but by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). Though the horses are prepared for battle, the victory belongs to the LORD (Proverbs 21:31). God helped Naaman; He gave Syria great victories through him and the king had great admiration for him.
3. Everybody has an issue. Everybody is battling with one issue or the other in his life. People may look at someone and say they wish they were in his shoes, but they do not know where the shoe is pitching him; they do not know the battles he is fighting; they do not know he is being bothered by some problems. Not all that glitters is gold. Life is not a bed of roses – even roses have thorns. Every strong man has his weakness.
Naaman was a mighty warrior, but he had a problem in his life – he was a leper. His leprosy was not even hidden to his housemaid (2 Kings 5:2-3), the king and, probably, the entire army he was leading, and the whole nation. What a humiliation!
In Bible days, leprosy was a dreaded contagious and incurable disease. Victims were usually quarantined – they were not allowed to live in the city. It could be possible that Naaman’s leprosy had not advanced to a serious one or was not a severe one.
You do not have to envy anybody; do not wish you were somebody else. If you know what others are going through, you will see that nobody is exempted from the challenges of life. With faith in God, make the best use of your life. It does not matter the negatives in your life; God in you will turn around everything in your life.
Nobody is perfect. However, your faith in God will give you victory – it will overcome the challenges of life world (1 John 5:4).
4. Make no excuses for your failure in life. As I have said, everyone has a weakness, no matter how strong he appears to be. All of us have both assets and liabilities. There is no perfect person; there is no perfect condition. Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap” (NKJV). The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” Do not surrender your destiny to your problems. Take advantage of adversity. The wind may be blowing contrary, but keep rowing your boat, and Jesus will show right there in your situation and turn things around (Matthew 14:23-27).
Discover your destiny, pursue it, and fulfill it, notwithstanding the circumstances. You may not have control over the circumstances you face, but God is in control of all circumstances. Naaman was a leper, nevertheless, he continued to fight wars; and God gave him great victories. Make no excuses; wage good warfare as a good soldier of Christ. You may be pressed hard on all sides, harassed, and hounded (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) but do not give up. Press forward in faith towards the goal (Philippians 3:14) and the Lord shall honour your faith.
5. Do not despise anyone. It was a slave girl from Israel, whom the Bible does not even record her name, that gave the information that Naaman worked upon that led to his healing. “Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy’” (2 Kings 5:3 NKJV).
Imagine if her mistress and Naaman had despised this girl because she was a captive from Israel, or Naaman’s family intimidated or oppressed her to the point that she had no confidence to say anything, let alone talk about her boss’ leprosy! However, this girl had the confidence to talk about his master’s malady to the wife, her mistress, and she was not scolded.
Later, when Naaman did not want to wash in River Jordan, as the prophet of God had commanded him, it was his servants who advised him to obey the prophet, and Naaman listened. They were inferior to him, yet they could advise him and he acted on their advice. “And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13 NKJV).
Are you approachable? Do you listen to the godly advice of your subordinates? Or do you despise people and easily dismiss their godly counsel? Psalm 37:30a says, “The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom” (NKJV). According to Proverbs 20:18, “Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war” (NKJV). Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (NKJV)
Do not despise anyone. You do not know who the Lord will use for you. Job 36:5 says, “Behold, God is mighty, but despises no one; He is mighty in strength of understanding” (NKJV). Whatever power you have, you are not as mighty as God. Therefore, do not despise anyone, even if they are inferior to you. According to Psalm 69:33, the LORD hears the cries of his needy ones and does not despise his people who are oppressed.
6. Follow protocol. Naaman was a loyal and obedient servant; he was loyal to the king of Syria. After his wife had told him what the slave girl from Israel said about the prophet in Israel, who was able to heal his leprosy, he went straight to inform the king. He did not bypass the king to go secretly to Israel to meet the prophet. He did not despise the authority of the king because of his position, power, and reputation. He followed protocol, knowing that the matter involved going to another country to seek help, which could be interpreted as disloyalty if the king was kept in the dark. He did not take the king for granted; he did not say he could handle it himself without the king’s knowledge.
It was a breach of protocol for Joab and Abiathar the priest to have agreed to help Adonijah become king without telling King David, their principal, his plan. That amounted to disloyalty, as Adonijah was not David’s candidate to succeed him. 1 Kings 1:7-8 says, “Then he [Adonijah] conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they followed and helped Adonijah. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David were not with Adonijah” (NKJV).
Abiathar had no negative record up till this time, but this singular action of supporting a wrong candidate as king later cost him his priesthood. Solomon removed him as a priest (1 kings 2:26-27). Thus, he became the last priest from his clan, in fulfillment of God’s word to Eli (1 Samuel 2:30).
Let us go back to Naaman. When Naaman informed the king about what the slave girl said, that the prophet in Israel could heal his leprosy, the king gave him a letter to the king of Israel to heal him, which, of course, was not possible (2 Kings 5:5-7).
However, the prophet in Israel got to know and intervened, leading eventually to the healing of Naaman’s leprosy. Naaman was obedient to the king by delivering the letter to the King of Israel. He did not say since it was not the king that would heal him, he would rather go straight to the prophet. He understood diplomatic protocol and was obedient to the king of Syria, which eventually paid off.
7. It is not your responsibility to determine or recommend how God should heal you or meet your need. You cannot dictate to God the method He must use to solve your problem. I am not talking about setting a point of contact to receive your miracle, as the woman with the issue of blood did when she said if she could touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, she shall be made whole (Matthew 9:21). She was made whole.
Naaman nearly missed his divine healing, because he was angry that Elisha did not come to address him personally, but rather instructed him to go and dip in River Jordan seven times. He had a different idea about how God should heal him! He had disdain for River Jordan. “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and went away in a rage” (2 Kings 5:11-12 NKJV).
However, the prophet of God did not have to come out to him before he could be healed. That, probably, was to humble him, as he came to Israel with a fanfare. He came with his horses and chariot and brought ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing (verses 9; 5). He must first be cured of pride if he must receive his miracle! God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).
The water of Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, is said to be purer and colder than that of Jordan, which was muddy and discoloured. Even if these two rivers of Damascus were better than River Jordan, God had chosen not to use them to heal him. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 says, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (NKJV).
Naaman must submit to God’s way to receive his healing. That was the counsel of his servants, and he did so before he was healed. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD.
‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV).
To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22b). You must believe God if you want to be established, and you must believe His prophets if you want to prosper (2 Chronicles 20:20b). That was what Mary did when the angel told her she would conceive by the Holy Ghost. “Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38 NKJV).
8. Return to give glory to God for what He’s done for you. After Naaman had been healed of his leprosy, he did not go back to his home country straight from River Jordan. That is what some people would have done – after all, they have gotten what they wanted. More so, he brought a letter from the king of his country who had the power to take military action against Israel if he returned home without being healed!
Naaman returned from River Jordan to give testimony of his healing. “And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, ‘Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant’” (2 Kings 5:15 NKJV). Naaman not only returned to show gratitude to God, but he also brought a gift from the man of God, which he refused, probably to correct any wrong impression Naaman had that God’s miracles were for sale since he was not an Israelite!
Always return to your man of God to give glory to God, as Naaman did; do not say God is everywhere and you can thank him anywhere. You did not receive your miracle anywhere, but somewhere!
Learn to show gratitude to God for answered prayers or miracles. Nine of the ten lepers Jesus healed in Luke 17:12-19 were guilty of ingratitude. They were healed on their way to show themselves to the priests, as Jesus had commanded, but they went on and never came back to show gratitude. They did not behave like Naaman. The only leper who returned to testify that he had been healed and praised God was a Samaritan. “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well’” (Luke 17:17-19 NKJV).
Hannah also returned to give glory to God for the gift of Samuel which she sought from the LORD. Many people have received miracles but never returned to show gratitude and testify to the power of God. However, Hannah, after weaning Samuel, returned to Shiloh to give glory to God. Eli appeared not to recognize her again – probably he had even forgotten his encounter with her – but Hannah reminded him. “And she said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD’” (1 Samuel 1:26-28 NKJV). Always return to give glory to God; don’t be an ingrate.
9. Do not be a lover of miracles only; be a lover of God. Some people think they can successfully play games with God. When they have a problem, they come and cry to God. Nevertheless, as soon as they receive their miracles, they flee, waiting for another time they will need God’s intervention in their lives. This is not the right way to relate with God. Nobody can deceive God. God cannot be mocked (Galatians 6:7). Just as your problem drew you closer to God, your miracles should make you devote yourself to Him. Let your relationship with God not be to receive from Him alone and disappear like a hit and run driver.
Naaman, from an idol-worshipping nation, committed himself to serve the Living God upon return to his country after he had been healed of leprosy. Nobody preached to him, but he knew this was the right thing to do. “So Naaman said, ‘Then, if not, please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; for your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the LORD. Yet in this thing may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon — when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD please pardon your servant in this thing’” (2 Kings 5:17-18 NKJV).
The psalmist says, “I love the LORD, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:1-2 NKJV). Do not receive miracles from God and run away from Him. That is not wise. You will always need God. Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27 say you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
10. Beware of dishonest and greedy ministers who go about exploiting people’s generosity. Gehazi belonged to this gang of ministers! Naaman did not come to the land of Israel empty-handed; he came with ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing (2 Kings 5:5). He presented a gift to prophet Elisha, who had healed him of his leprosy, but he rejected it (verse 16). This could be because it was not time to receive such a gift, as he told Gehazi later – “Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?” (Verse 26b NKJV). After rejecting the gift, the next verse tells us that Naaman made a personal commitment to serve the LORD. This was more important to Elisha than any gift from him.
However, Gehazi missed the point. He would not spare Naaman! Gehazi said, “Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him” (verses 20 NKJV). Why bring the LORD into his greed! Gehazi would not allow him to go without collecting something from him. Therefore, he went after him, thinking Elisha would not know. He lied to Naaman to collect the gift his master had rejected (verses 21-23).
When he returned from ‘robbing’ Naaman, he also lied to his master that he did not go anywhere. “Then he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.’ And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow” (verses 26-27 NKJV).
In 1 Samuel 12:3-4, Samuel asked the Israelites, among other things, if he had cheated or defrauded anyone, and they replied in the negative. Paul said a similar thing: “We have cheated no one” (2 Corinthians 7:2 NKJV).
It is not every minister who can boldly say what Samuel and Paul said because it is not every minister of God who heeds the biblical warning not to be greedy for money (1Timothy 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:2). Though the Bible encourages believers to give or sow seed (2 Corinthians 9:6-7; Luke 6:38), if you desire a good harvest, it is not every soil that is right for you to sow your seed. Do not let any minister manipulate you and rob you of your money or property. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7b). Be guided by the Word of God and by His Spirit.
Conclusion: “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:27 NKJV). If Naaman had not obeyed the instruction of Elisha, to dip into River Jordan seven times, this statement would not have been recorded about him in the New Testament. If his name would be mentioned at all, it would be a negative narrative.
As you apply the lessons I have discussed in this message, I pray that your life will become a good example for people to learn from. May you stand out and be outstanding in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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