Humble or Stumble
Devotion In Motion
2 Kings 5:1
“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.”
Now here is a man named Naaman who it tells us here was the commander of the armies of the King of Syria. So Here was a decorated military man. The Jewish rabbis taught that he was the archer who shot the arrow that killed King Ahab. Naaman had distinguished himself in battle, and had risen in rank. He was not only a general but the general in the Syrian army – a national hero. Naaman had 5 stars on his armor, but just underneath there was a white rash on his skin.
This patch of leprosy made all his many victories seem miniscule. You see, Leprosy was the AIDS of the ancient world. Leprosy is an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms, legs, and skin areas around your body, also known as Hanson’s disease. It causes a Loss of feeling in the arms and legs and Muscle weakness. Quite often because of the smell of the rotting of the skin, it gave off a putrid odor and because of that insects and rodents were attracted to them. Quite often because of the loss of feeling those rodents and insects would at night while sleeping would gnaw off and feed on the outer extremities (the fingers or toes) and the person would not even know it until they saw it. Today it can be cured but back then it would have been a death sentence.
Notice again the last line in verse 1, “He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper.” I hope you realize we all have a “but” in our lives. Nobody’s life is perfect. No matter how blessed you might be, everybody has some sort of problem that steals away their joy – and tarnishes their success. And believe it or not, God sees to it that this is the case in everyone’s life. This need, this restlessness is God’s way of drawing us close to Jesus.
The King of Syria sends a letter with Naaman to Jeroboam because a woman in his kingdom told him that there was a man in Israel who could do miracles. The King of Syria thought this had to be King Jeroboam so he sent Naaman with this letter. Jeroboam thinks this is a trick, he thought the King of Syria wanted to pick a fight.
He’s trying to conjure up some reason to accuse him of non cooperation, and justify an attack. So he sends him to Elisha the prophet. Well when he gets there he is taken back because he wasn’t greeted like a man of his stature should have been greeted. Naaman is a dignitary. He’s used to the red carpet treatment. But Elisha doesn’t even bother to come out of the house to greet him. He’s unimpressed with his rank and reputation. Worldly credentials mean nothing to Elisha. He couldn’t care less about the stars on his shoulders – Elisha’s only interest is what’s in his heart.
Verse 11 tells us, “But Naaman became furious,” I’m sure he thought, “I’ve traveled 100 miles. At least this guy can get off his duff to shake my hand.” “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.’ Naaman thought Elisha would be honored to help a man of his stature. He could wave his hand around. Orchestrate some holy hoopla. Make a show. After some high-flying theatrics, and some charismatic attention-grabbing, Elisha could heal Naaman’s leprosy – then get his autograph afterwards.
Once clean of this nasty leprosy Naaman might even agree to a photo-op. Naaman is about to learn a lesson. God’s healing and miracles come not to the mighty, or worthy, or deserving – but to the humble – to people with faith. God not only removes Naaman’s spot – but in the process he’ll deal with his pride as well. You see the Lord always deals with the problem of the heart 1st and foremost. Naaman continues his tirade, “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.”
If this is all the prophet wanted me to do I could’ve stayed home. The rivers of Syria are better than a muddy Jordan. Verse 13 “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’?” So he went down and dipped 7 times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God…” And after each of the first 6 dips he felt like a complete idiot. He was so embarrassed.
His horses had drunk from this river. It can’t possibly heal. But after the 7th dip – “his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” Of course it wasn’t the river that healed him – God’s supernatural power responded to his humility. Simple obedience became the leper’s cure. Understand, Naaman had two problems most of us share… First was sophistication. He was into the image. He was a control freak. Like all politicians his goal was to manipulate situations to put himself in a good light, His second problem was scientific rationalism. If he couldn’t understand it – it couldn’t be true.
Everything had to be filtered through human logic and reason. I believe these are the reasons we see so few miracles today. Our rationalism and sophistication hinder God’s work. Naaman eventually yielded to a command he couldn’t understand, and was sure to humiliate before his servants – but that’s when God did the miraculous. Naaman learned important lessons –
“Trust God even when you can’t tame the situation – have faith even when you can’t figure it all out.”
The bible tells us in James 4:6 ” God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble”“Therefore submit to God.”
Proverbs 6:16 reads, “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him.” And at the top of God’s list is “a proud look.” God resists the pride. Think you can do it on your own, well, God will let you try. But admit your need, and God will give grace – His enabling, empowering love. “Therefore submit to God.” The word translated “submit” is “hupotasso.” It means “to arrange under, to line up behind.” To “submit to God” is to arrange my life around His Word – get my desires in line with His will.
Puritan pastor Richard Baxter’s last words were, “Lord, what You will, where You will, when You will.” This should be our motto not only in death, but in life! It sure was Naamans after he humbled himself before God.
F.B Meyer once said “I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above another and the taller we grew in Christian character, the easier we could reach them. I now find that God’s Gifts are on shelves below us. It is not a question of growing taller, but of stooping down, to get to the best gifts. And the best gift is Jesus Christ who alone can wash away our sin by his blood which was shed on the cross of Calvary”
If you were blessed by this devotion please share.
Also please send a message I would love to hear from you