When reading 2 Kings 5, it strikes me first of all that Naaman was a man with a secret. This might sound obvious, but Naaman was not just a soldier; he was “commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded.” (2 Kings 5:1) How on earth did such a man keep secret that he had leprosy? He should have been sent to a leper’s colony. Certainly he should never have been allowed near anyone else, let alone command the victorious army of Aram. I am sure that he tried very hard to stand tall, even though he must have been struggling so much to keep his condition from everyone.
We are also told about a young girl, who had been taken captive when Naaman’s conquering soldiers of Aram had defeated the nation of Israel. She was then given to Naaman’s wife. As such, she had three major things against her; she was a prisoner-of-war, she was a slave, and she was female. She should have done nothing more than keep her head down and her mouth shut. When someone has to act as if they are invisible, it is all too easy to forget they are there at all. Somehow – whether it was through Naaman’s presence in the bedroom, or his wife’s indiscretion- this young girl knew about the leprosy.
Francis Bacon said that “Knowledge is Power”. It was one thing to know; quite another to do anything with it. She could have used this knowledge to gain mastery over the family, for disclosure would have meant disaster. This young girl also had another piece of Knowledge; she knew about the prophet Elisha in her home nation. She was aware that he could perform healing miracles. Even though she was a slave, she had power that could turn the apparently hopeless situation around.
So how did she use the power she had?
It would have been perfectly understandable to say nothing at all. It would have been an exquisite form of revenge for being forcibly removed from her family, friends and home. She was, after all, supposed to say nothing at all. The knowledge of withholding the possibility of change could have become a delicious bitter root in her spirit.
Conversely, she might have felt that to have said something so extraordinary would never have been believed by a man who had proved himself so adept at deception, who moved in the highest circles in the land.
She showed how remarkable she was by choosing to speak out, using expert skills of tact and diplomacy. She chose to speak, not to Naaman, but to his wife. The woman she had been given to as a slave, and she stated carefully “If only…”.
Always a good start to a comment that might be difficult to hear!
“If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3). I wonder how long it took Naaman’s wife to find her husband and reveal what she had been told? Scripture moves swiftly from the statement “If only…” in verse 3, to immediately making plans with his king to visit Israel, a conquered nation, to find Elisha the prophet. The words the young girl had chosen to reveal had been believed, and instantly acted on. She did not allow the predicament of her “status” to stop her demonstrating strength of character, the skillful use of power, and a grace that overrode the injustice of her slavery.
- Have you ever been treated unjustly?
- Have you been tempted to seek revenge by the use, or withholding, of powerful information?
- How can you stop feeding any root of bitterness?
- What will you now choose to do?