Naaman was a successful, high-ranking military official for the king of Aram. In 2 Kings 5, he's described as a brave warrior. But Naaman's life started to fall apart when he was affected with a horrible skin disease.
During his raids on Israel, Naaman had captured a young Israelite girl to serve his wife. And this servant had an idea. "If only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease" (2 Kings 5:3 MSG).
There was no cure for leprosy in that day, so Naaman didn't have any other options. He got the king's blessings to go meet this prophet named Elisha and set out to be healed.
He didn't travel light. Naaman's entourage included horses and chariots, clothes and supplies, including "750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothes" (v. 5 MSG). Clearly, Naaman had come prepared to earn his healing, no matter what the prophet would order. A quest to the edge of Israel? Bring it on. A specific mountain to climb or a people to conquer? No problem. Naaman was ready for whatever the prophet would throw at him - except, of course, Elisha's curveball response.
Elisha's instructions were, "Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you'll be as good as new" (v. 10 MSG).
Sounds simple enough, right?
Elisha had insulted Naaman in every way possible with this message. Naaman arrived at Elisha's door with his caravan and the prophet didn't even come outside to greet him. Instead, he sent a messenger. Naaman was not the kind of guy who received messengers. He sent messengers.
So Naaman stormed off in a huff and complained, "I thought he'd personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease" (v. 11).
Naaman had pictured this going down a certain way. He'd expected the prophet to display some pomp and circumstance. On top of that, Naaman was not going to debase himself in an Israeli river. He continued complaining, "The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I'd at least get clean" (v. 12).
Naaman sulked. He needed an AHA. Unless he had a startling realization, he wouldn't be healed. He needed someone to flip the switch, but who?
A servant approached the sulking commander and said, "Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn't you have done it? So why not this simple 'wash and be clean'? (v. 13).
The servant pointed out a simple truth. Naaman came ready for an epic adventure or a grand healing ceremony. He came prepared to pay any price for his healing. So why not just wash? In the nicest way possible, this servant said, "Get over yourself and take a bath."
The words came from a lowly source. Naaman could have kept up his arrogance, but he allowed himself to listen. And he experienced a startling realization. Immediately, Naaman went down to the Jordan and washed seven times. God cleaned him of this disease, and he returned to Elisha to articulate his awakening. In verse 15, Naaman declared, "I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God anywhere on earth other than the God of Israel."
- Kyle Edleman, 40 Days to Lasting Change