"I Said to Myself"

By A. A. Meeks, Sr.

Naaman, a captain in the Syrian army, had leprosy. At the suggestion of one of his Hebrew slaves, Naaman went to Israel to seek a cure for his disease. He went first to the king of Israel (who could not help him), and finally to Elisha, God’s prophet.

When Naaman came to Elisha’s house, the prophet sent a messenger to tell Naaman what he must do to be healed of the leprosy. The messenger said, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean” (2 Kings 5:10).

This was not the solution that Naaman had in mind. As a result, he became angry and left the prophet’s house. He said, “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’” (2 Kings 5:11). Then Naaman said, “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?” Naaman turned and went away in a rage.

We can learn some very important lessons from Naaman’s attitude toward the prophet’s instructions.

First: Naaman had already made up his mind about what the prophet would do to heal him. When the prophet did not act like Naaman thought he should, Naaman refused to accept the remedy prescribed by Elisha. Today many people, instead of studying God’s word to learn what He wants, make up their minds as to how they think things should be, and refuse to listen to Him. Jesus spoke about some people like that in Matt. 7:21-23. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” It is not what we think, but what God says that is important. We should be ready to accept what He says, even if we cannot see a reason for it.

Second: Naaman thought that the rivers of Damascus would serve just as well as the water of the Jordan. It was not the water of the Jordan that would cure Naaman. It was God’s grace that would heal him, but only when he did what he was told. God does not accept substitutes, ever. The Abanah and the Pharpar may have been good rivers, maybe even better than the Jordan. But God said to use the Jordan. Only the Jordan would serve to effect Naaman’s healing. When God specifies, we must not change it.

Third: Even though a person rejects God’s way at first, if he changes his mind and does what God has told him, he will receive God’s blessing. Naaman’s slave pointed out that if Elisha had asked Naaman to do some great thing, he would have done it. Then Naaman changed his mind, washed in the Jordan, and he was made clean. This is repentance. If we repent of our errors today, and obey God, He will forgive us and extend His blessing to us (Luke 13:3-5; Acts 17:30).

May God help us to always do that which He commands.