Naaman wants to give a gift to Elisha for his healing. Elisha refuses but his servant secretly receives payment. And he also receives Naaman’s problem.
When Naaman came to Israel to seek out a cure for his leprosy he was prepared to pay dearly for it. “So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing” (verse 5b). My bible helps tells me that a talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms and a shekel was about 2/5 an ounce or 11 grams. This is a LOT of money, not to mention the clothing. Having one change of clothes was standard for most common people. The richer you were the more changes of clothing you had. Naaman brought TEN changes of clothes.
After being made clean Naaman brought all he had with him back to Elisha. He could have easily gone on his way but he didn’t. He wanted to honor the Lord and Elisha for his healing. He wanted to call out the Lord’s name as above ALL other gods of the world. And he wanted grace and forgiveness for the actions he would be required to make in the future.
Naaman learned that day for certain that there was NO other God in ALL the world except the God of Israel. ALL the other gods being served held NO power. Israel’s God held life and death in His hands. Naaman wanted to bind himself to that God. What better way to do it than to give an offering?
Elisha personally met with Naaman this time. He did not send his servant. I doubt even a portion of the ‘payment’ would have been refused if Gehazi would have met Naaman instead of Elisha. But Elisha rejected ALL of it. He didn’t finger the cloth of the garments. He didn’t hold the weight of the silver or gold in his hands. He didn’t even ask to see what Naaman had brought. He simply and firmly said, “No thank you.” And he did it with grace.
Naaman was surprised by Elisha’s refusal but not offended. The fact that he made a request right after speaks of that. Naaman wanted to take part of Israel back home with him. If Israel’s God was bound to the land he wanted some of that land with him to unite him with Israel’s God too. He pledged personal spiritual fidelity to Israel’s God.
But he couldn’t pledge professional fidelity to God. In the course of his job he had to accompany the king into the house of Syria’s god, Rimmon. This might not have been their nation’s god but it was his king’s. Naaman’s task was to stand at the king’s side and support him in all he did. Walking with him into this temple and kneeling there were required of him.
This problem of Naaman’s reminds me of Shadrach Meshach and Abednego. They had a choice between bowing to the idol set up or death. They chose NOT to bow, no matter what the consequences. But Naaman was saying that he would bow but not pray to this god. He asked for forgiveness and grace in advance.
Many of those following Christ walk that same ‘tightrope’ today. We work in places which don’t allow us to openly speak of God or require us to ‘buy into’ the company line. How far do we bend before we break? I salute those who stand anyway! I’m fortunate now that I don’t have to stay quiet about Him in the ‘work place’ because my work place is my home. And I thank Him for that opportunity.
I wonder if Naaman’s new convictions lasted the rest of his life. Did the pressures of his world chip away at his resolve? Did he begin to rationalize ‘just one more’ exception? Exceptions started popping into my head regarding my ‘job’ a moment ago. I have to walk the balance between what to report and what to keep to myself. Things like how many minutes it takes each time to complete an activity. Do I average or do I clock it each time? When my husband’s abilities vary from day to day, how do I assign a reliable number to the tasks I preform in a yearly reassessment? I pray I’m not being dishonest in his yearly reviews and am reporting an appropriate number for EACH category. He is on a good cycle right now and that requires less hands on from me and I suppose that is why I’m feeling guilty right now. His good cycles though require me to attend to him more often though so maybe things are balanced out. I DON’T want to be like Gehazi.
Gehazi saw an opportunity to help himself to some of the wealth Elisha turned down. He knew that Naaman was more than willing to part with what he had brought. But Gehazi also knew that Naaman would be suspicious if he said that Elisha had changed his mind about accepting payment. He had to come up with a believable excuse to get some of the gifts Naaman brought. He also realized that he needed to only ask for a portion. There would be no way to hide all that Naaman had offered from Elisha.
Nothing that Gehazi did was secret. God saw it and showed it to Elisha. He showed him the deception in making up a ‘believable’ story. Two men came in need. A talent to split and a change of clothes for each. That’s all Gehazi asked for. And Naaman was happy to give it. He even included an extra talent of silver.
Gehazi certainly needed the help of the two servants. He would never have been able to carry 150 lbs of silver by himself. I wonder where he hid it all when he got to his house. Did he share this house with Elisha? “Where did that come from?” asked as Elisha stumbles over one of the bags of silver. Or “Is that new?” as Gehazi wears one of the new changes of clothes. HOW did he think Elisha wouldn’t notice???
How Elisha’s heart must have broke as he watched Gehazi in the spirit. This man had been with him a long time and had served faithfully. Did Gehazi’s curse of leprosy remove him from Elisha’s side? Probably as this was the Law in Israel. Did he keep the money and clothes he received? If he did, did they bring him comfort or remind him of his shame? Was it worth it to him in the end? Did he ask God for forgiveness? Did he try washing in the Jordan seven times?
Father God, NOTHING is worth giving up our relationship! I want nothing to come between us. Forgive me for any and all deception I have ever engaged in. Help me speak Your truth regardless of the cost. I want to serve You with ALL my heart at ALL times. Thank You for bringing to me what I need each day to learn, or just to be reminded of, from Your word. I want to live a life pleasing unto You.