Naaman: or God Glorified, Part 1

2 Kings 5  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 7
God cares for His own glory. If those who should have glorified Him fail to do so, He will provide that above all Writ's His glory shall be maintained.
When Israel sought for victory from the Philistines, by bringing, unauthorized, the ark of God into the camp, they- had to feel His hand laid heavy on them in chastisement. Defeat was their portion, and the capture of the ark by the Philistines ensued. He "delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hand." (Psa. 78:61.) Could the enemy then triumph? He might' over Israel. He might vaunt of the victory and ascribe it to his god, but the glory of the God of Israel must be manifested and maintained. The ark was taken to Dagon's temple, and left alone with the idol. In the morning Dalton was found to have fallen down before the symbol of God’s presence. The god of the Philistines is prostrate before the God of the whole earth. Set up a-rain, the same result ensues. Whilst all are asleep The glory of God is vindicated, and this time the idol is broken to pieces. Again, when Judah was led captive, when God's house at Jerusalem had been burnt by the Chaldeans, and the vessels of the sanctuary carried into Babylon, the Lord Jehovah showed to the heathen that he was God alone, though his people had profaned His holy name. Daniel could reveal what the wise men were ignorant of. The three men are preserved in the fiery furnace, and come forth alive, an answer to Nebuchadnezzar's proud boast, "Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?" And praise, on both occasions, was given to the God of heaven. Belshazzar might boast of his grandfather's conquests over the Jews, but the vessels of God's house must not be profaned by being used for his drunken orgies. Daniel might be his servant because Judah had sinned, but Jehovah is God, and will resent any attempt to dishonor Him. So in the days of Elisha, for Israel's great. wickedness God had chastised them, and let their enemies triumph over them; but He cared for His own glory, and vindicated it, as this the history of Naaman shows in the most marked manner. It was a dark period of Israel's history. Jehoram sat on the throne of his father Ahab. He put away the image of Baal which Ahab had made, "nevertheless he cleaved," we read, "unto the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom." Though outwardly less bad than his father, he was an idolater. King over the largest portion of God's earthly people, in his heart he knew not God. The king, and the nation, which should have glorified Him, did not; so God orders events, that both Israel, and the Gentiles, should see He was the one true God, who works all things after the counsel of His own will. It is this that the history of Naaman sets forth in which we have (1.) God's counsels, step by step, unfolded; (2.) God's grace, because it is grace, going out to one who could claim nothing on the ground of covenant or promise; and (3) God's government, because He is holy, in active exercise in the midst of His professing people.
I. God's counsels are unfolded. If the Lord Jehovah was greater than all gods could He not have saved Israel from their enemies? If He was the true God would he have allowed the idol-worshipping Syrians to overcome them in battle? If the God of Israel was omniscient must he not have foreseen all that would happen? Why, then, did He not counteract the plans of the enemy, and thwart the military arrangements of the captain of the hosts of Syria? Such thoughts might have filled men's minds, when they saw the land of Israel at the mercy of a foreign king, and the people of Israel unable to resist the Gentile power. But the God of Israel was the true God. He was greater than all gods. He was omniscient, and He would show it. It was His plan that Naaman was all the time working out, however much he might think it was his own. It was God who was prospering the armies of Syria, though they might ascribe their success to Rimmon. He could have interposed and have discomfited the hosts of Syria, as he did shortly before the army of Moab; but then He was protecting Judah, as yet faithful to Him, now He was chastising Israel, notoriously—unfaithful. How changed now was everything in Israel! Naaman was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance to Syria. Often before had the Lord granted deliverance to Israel; now for the first time, we read of His giving the victory to Syria. With the armies of Syria He had now gone forth, who had formerly gone before the hosts of Israel. In the clays of Joshua, men had witnessed what the Lord could do for them. In the days of David, the sound of going on the top of the mulberry trees told of the presence of the Lord preceding the armed hosts of Israel to battle. The stars, in their courses, had fought against Sisera, great hailstones had smitten clown the retreating hosts of the Canaanites, and thunder had discomfited the Philistines in the days of Samuel. Now we read the Lord was found with their enemies, and by Naaman gave them deliverance. This was the first link in the chain of events as set forth in this history.
Next, who was this Naaman? A mighty man of valor, a great man with his master, high in favor at court. What was there in the whole world that he needed 3 Place, honor, fame, riches, all these were his; all that the world could give, short of a throne,-he bad. But one thing he wanted that the world could not supply-health. God had withheld it-he was a leper. All that he possessed, if added together and sold at the price he put on them, could not have purchased for him the much coveted boon-health. That he was a leper, was the one bitter ingredient in his otherwise full cup of happiness. The hand of God was evidently on him, not to debar him this object of desire, but to bestow it. Before, however, it could be bestowed, he must he brought down to supplicate for this blessing, in that land over whose armies he had triumphed, and from the servant of that God whose people he had overcome in battle. -
But how should he hear of the prophet who would recover him of his leprosy? Mere a third link in the chain is disclosed. In the wars between Syria and Israel a little maid had been taken captive by the Syrians, and she waited on Naaman's wife. A daughter of Israel in captivity in the land of Syria, what could she do there I How could she do service for God? Who would be inclined to hearken to her voice Her age would not command the attention of others. Her position would not add weight to her words. Looked at outwardly it was not much she could do, but it was all that was required, and she did it. She told her mistress of the prophet in Samaria, and the little maid's speech reached the ears of the King of Syria. Naaman was sent to Samaria to be healed, but as is ever the case, when God deals in grace, to receive much more than he asked for. He sought for health, he got light. He desired healing, and he got, we-may well believe, life. He learned who was the true God, and became a worshipper of Jehovah. He reached Samaria with his retinue and his presents, and now, before we get God's grace flowing out to him, we get man, as he is, under various aspects brought before us.
In Naaman we have man as one in need, who keenly feels his want, but cannot by any plan of his own supply it. From the letter of the King of Syria we see man as he is by nature in utter ignorance of God. The little maid had spoken of the prophet of God, he wrote to the King of Israel to recover Naaman of his leprosy. There is not a thought of God in his letter. His ideas, apparently, do not travel beyond the range of the things of sight. "I have sent Naaman my servant unto thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy." God was not in his thoughts when he wrote this to Jehoram. Well might the latter exclaim, as he read it, " Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man Both send unto me, to recover a man of his leprosy?" Perfectly true, who can heal the leper but God only. His reasoning was just, but he affords us an instance of man in apostasy. He knows something about God, but he does not 'know God. A difficulty arises, he cannot meet it. He rent his clothes, he spoke to his counselors, but did nothing. His hands hung down in feebleness. The only stay of the heart in a day of difficulty, the only source of wisdom, he had forsaken. He sees that ruin may be before him, but cannot avert it. He is utterly helpless, a miserable exhibition, surely, of one of God's professing people. The King of Syria, in nature's darkness, is ignorant about God; the King of Israel, in apostasy, has no stay for his soul, no refuge to which he can turn. How unlike the conduct of Jehoram was the conduct of Hezekiah, when he received a letter from a Gentile sovereign. He read it, and spread it before the Lord, and received an answer. Jehoram read his, reasoned about it, but took it not to God. How could he turn to Him, whose truth he had given up, and whose worship he openly discountenanced? But God has a witness in Samaria, and in the prophet, we see one in communion with God. That, which caused such commotion in. the house of Jehoram, affrights him not. He knows how to act. "Let him come now to me, and he shall_ know that there is a prophet in Israel." Jehoram never spoke about God's prophet. Naaman might learn from the King the sad condition of an apostate; he would learn from Elisha about God, and what He can do.
(To be continued, D. v-.)