Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you [to do some] great thing, would you not have done [it]? How much more [then], when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
2 Kings 5:13
The story of Naaman is important in The Bible for more than one reason.
First, it is one of the very few recorded instances of a leper being cleansed in Old Testament (OT). The only other that comes to mind is the case of Miriam (Numbers 12:9-15). Jesus cleanses lepers in the New Testament, but the OT has precious few instances of a leper being cleansed.
Second, this healing is of a non-Jew. Naaman was, in fact, a captain in the Aramean army.
Third, this miracle is referenced by Jesus (Luke 4:27).
What is said about Naaman explicitly is that he was a great man with his master, and highly respected … [he] was also a valiant warrior, [and] he was a leper (v. 1). I learn some things about him by what is implied, too. For example, he took captive a young Israelite girl and the girl waited on Naaman’s wife (v. 2). This captive is the one who says that Naaman should go see the prophet Elisha and be healed (v. 3). So I can infer that his household was run in such a way that the servants felt free to offer advice and cared about the well-being of the heads of the household. I also infer that he is a proud man. When he meets Elisha, the prophet tells Naaman, via messenger, to go wash in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman is initially offended and angry about this instruction, but is prevailed upon by his servants to do what the prophet says (vv. 8-14). Good counsel prevails and pride is defeated, because he humbles himself to do what the prophet said instead of insisting on his own way. I also see that Naaman is wise. When he is healed, he goes back to Elisha and confesses that the LORD is the only God. He also looks ahead to the times he knows are coming when the king he serves is going to order him (Naaman) to stand in a place of idol worship and Naaman asks to be pardoned. He does not plan to participate, but he will have to be present.
I am not a leper. Not physically. However, like everyone, I began my life as a spiritual leper. I was walking around with the sentence of death hanging over my soul. It was not a matter of if, but when I would pass from this world and my soul pass into eternal punishment. Like Naaman, we are all presented with a very simple task: wash and be clean. Naaman was told to wash in the Jordan. I am told to wash in the blood of Christ. Naaman’s washing cleansed his body and the resulting faith enlivened his soul. My washing in the blood of Christ gives life to my soul.
As I walk with God, He may tell me to do things. Like Naaman, I am wont to become offended when God commands a simple thing. It seems too easy and I can think of better ways to do that same thing. Let Naaman’s servants speak to me, too. If God had commanded some great thing, would I not have striven to rise to that challenge? How much more when God commands me to do some simple thing?
Father, thank You that Your commands are simple. Seldom easy. Often simple. Your commands require me to put away pride and to humbly do the thing You tell me. Please remind me that I feel stirred to rise to the great tasks — to slay the dragons and such — but feel offended by the small tasks — to make sure that my armor is in working order. The great task, I have learned, is impossible without the small, but still the pride within me rails. Please, as the hymn says, pour contempt on all my pride and bring me to the place where I can be washed and cleansed and live. Bring me to the place of simple obedience to simple instruction so my faith reigns in me and my pride is put to death.