5 Naaman Healed

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THE name Damascus brings to mind a most interesting old city. It was in Syria, the region northeast of Canaan. Two streams rise in the mountains; one from the slopes of Hermon, the Pharpar, and one from a gorge in the Anti-Lebanon mountains further north, the Abana, and run out into the plain, making a beautiful garden spot in the desert.

The Abana, now called the Barada, “cold,” is a very beautiful stream. The greater part of its water bursts out at one great spring, the Fijeh, at the foot of a rocky slope, and is at once a river of clear beryl water some thirty feet wide and three feet deep. It is joined by a smaller stream from higher up the gorge, and goes rushing down to give life to Damascus. The water is led about in little canals through the gardens and orchards, so that the city is bowered in fresh green which seems to the eyes of weary travelers from the desert like paradise itself. No wonder they are fond of their city, and of the beautiful river from the mountains which gives it its life.

The king of Syria lived in Damascus, and Naaman the captain of his army. But Naaman was a leper. This was perhaps in those days a general name for many diseases chiefly of the skin. The skin was dead and white or discolored, in places, or over the whole body, and sometimes there were sores.

Among the Jews leprosy was considered very dreadful and unclean, and very severe rules about it were given in the law, because it pictures a state of life which is very evil. Lepers were not allowed to live in the town, and if they saw others coming near they must cry out, “Unclean, unclean,” to warn them away. When the Lord was on earth He laid His hands upon the lepers and made them clean. His power was with Elisha.

Now let us read the story. We think of a company of attendants going with Naaman, with horses and chariots. He brought silver and gold to give for his healing. The talent of silver means a weight worth nearly two thousand dollars; the piece or shekel of gold was a weight worth about ten dollars.

So Naaman and his company came to the city of Samaria where the king Israel lived. Ahab had died, and the king at this lime was probably Jehoram, Ahab’s son. Elisha also lived in Samaria, but, he was forgotten till he sent to the king and reminded him of the Lord, and that he was the Lord’s prophet.

When we read how Naaman despised the Jordan in comparison with the Abana and Pharpar, we remember that the Jordan is a muddy river and not so beautiful as the clear mountain streams which the people of Damascus loved. Naaman took home earth to make an altar, for he felt that Canaan was the Lord’s land, and that offerings made on any other earth would not be acceptable to Him. Rimmon, which means “most high,” we see was the name given by the Syrians to the god that they worshipped. It was the Lord who showed Elisha all that Gehazi did, and what was in his heart. There is nothing hidden from Him.

Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy. And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that thereis no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.

But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well? And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him. And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed. But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither. And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.—2 Kings V.

Author: William L. Worcester 1904

Spiritual Correspondences

Washing in the Jordan >> Understand the difference between good and evil and obey the Lord’s commandments

Washing in the rivers of Damascus >> Cleanse one’s life according to the standards of the world

Washing seven times >> Cleanse one’s life repeatedly and fully

Little maid >> The innocence that is hidden in a human being

Leprosy >> Profanation >> Hypocrisy

Gehazi >> Hypocrisy

2 KINGS V

1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.

1 The rational faculty of the natural man, who is in the love of knowledge, is greatly valued by him, and much beloved, since it is the means whereby he keepsin subjection his lower passions: for the rational man is skillful in argument and bold; nevertheless he profanes the truth he acquires by using it for selfish purposes.

2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.

For, indeed, the natural man is continually opposed to, and organised against, the spiritual man, and holds in bondage the spiritual affection of truth, making it subordinate; and’ serviceable to natural affection.

3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.

3 But spiritual affection, even in its state of captivity, insinuates the thought, that only when the natural reason of man is under the influence of spiritual truth can it be delivered from profanation.

4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.

4 And the merely natural man, through the rational faculty, perceives that the affection of spiritual truth, which is of the church, thus insinuates and thence teaches.

5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.

5 And being impelled both by understanding and will, as from himself, he determines to confirm himself, as to conjunction with the spiritual church. And consequently, through the rational faculty, he advances towards that conjunction, being furnished with the remains of spiritual truth, with the good of truth acquired in conflict against evil, and with externals in agreement therewith.

6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.

6 And therefore he is brought into communication with the corrupted spiritual church, in the expectation that the rational mind, which is subordinated to the new will of good, may thence receive aid, and be delivered from its state of profanation.

7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.

7 But the corrupted spiritual church is not able to render aid, although it is, apparently, in zeal for truth, and in mourning on account of the lack of truth, neither being able to destroy evils nor promote good; and thus not able to prevent the profanation of truth. And hence the feeling and perception of persons in such a state, that the new natural man, desiring purification, is opposed to them.

8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.

8 On the other hand, the man of the true spiritual church, who is guided by the Word, perceives that the corrupted church has lost the truth, and yet that he who approaches the Lord through the Word will be taught the truth, because the Word is truth itself in the spiritual church.

9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.

9 And hence he is led in the exercise of his intellectual powers, by means of doctrine, to apply himself to the literal sense of the Word which teaches good derived from Divine Truth.

10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.

10 On which account he receives instruction mediately through heaven from the Lord by the Word, that he ought to be regenerated, by purifying himself from evils by the literal sense of the Word, according to Divine Order; and that then there would be genuine good.

11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.

11 But human reason is indignant at such instruction, and is thus separated from Divine Truth, perceiving, from pride, in this case, that Divine Power should be miraculously manifested in answer to prayer for mercy and truth, and by external application, so that profanation might thus be removed.

12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.

12 For the natural man imagines that natural kriowledges and outward righteousness, derived from their application, under the influence of the worldly love of knowledge, are superior to spiritual truths, and will effect purification. And hence he is averted from spiritual truth by the vehemence of self-love.

13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

13 Nevertheless the truths of tbe Word which, hitherto, he has used for selfish purposes, strongly influence him by an appeal to the good of conscience, and also by an appeal to natural pride in acting nobly; but still more by an appeal to simple good, which dictates that, regeneration, or purification from evil, internally, is of the first importance.

14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

14 The consequence of which is a state or humility, in which the simple application of the truths of the Word to the purification of the life in the order of regeneration, resulting in holiness according to the Word, is entirely successful, the genuine good of innocence follows, and full purity is effected.

15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.

15 And then there is immediate conjunction of the natural with the spiritual man, both as to good and as to truths, with full submission to the Word, and full acknowledgment of the Lord as the God of the spiritual church, with a strong desire for the ratification of this conjunction by external benefits.

16 But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.

16 But now he realizes, that, since all life is from the Lord in whose eternal presence is the regencrated internal, therefore good is freely given, nor is reward thought of The external life of the regenerated man, however, is relatively imperfect, as compared with Divine Love.

17And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD.

17 Wherefore the new natural man first perceives, that the quality of his good is to be measured by his truths, acquired by the conjunction of affection and thought, and supporting the good from which is true worship; which worship is the devotion of every affection and every intellectual power, no longer to self and the world, but to the service of the Lord and the neighbour.

18 In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.

18 But, at the same time, in the progress of regeneration, the subject thereof is conscious of infirmity, since the natural man is devoted to self, and the exaltation of self, supporting himself in this, even by the power of reason, so that the new life is, as it were, drawn downwards by the force of apparently lawful selfish delights, while yet it confesses its weakness, and implores Divine protection and deliverance.

19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.

19 And hence he receives assurance or interior tranquility, and is left to pursue his course according to reason and liberty.

20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.

20 But those who are in the literal sense of the Word only, according to its appearances, and thus in the low perception and delights of the merely natural man, cannot understand the motives and principles of the spiritual, and are persuaded that it is in harmony with the Divine Life, by means of truths, to seek selfish reward.

21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well?

21 And consequently they apply themselves to those who are in the beginning of regeneration for this purpose, while the latter, being influenced by charity separated from doctrine, are disposed to confer benefits,

22 And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.

22 And hence the hypocritical assume in their presence the appearance of good will, teaching and acting as if from the Word, which truly dictates that those who are intelligent from the love of truths, and who study the Word with respect both to doctrine and life, should thence receive the knowledge of interior spiritual truths, and of exterior natural truths in conjunction with good.

23 And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him.

23 And therefore those who are in genuine good are satisfied and urgent not only that the interior man should be furnished with truths, but also with good in conjunction therewith ; that truth and good should be, in their receptacles of the understanding and will, accurately distinguished; that exterior truth and good should harmonize therewith; that the whole should be manifested in the intellect and affection of the natural man; and that thus truth and good should appear in the natural life.

24 And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.

24 But the hypocrite, when he returns into his own life of self-love, rejects the good of truth, only retaining the truths themselves for selfish purposes, casting aside then all genuine truth and good, and being entirely separated therefrom.

25 But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.

25 And therefore, when he comes into the light of genuine truth from the Word for judgment, and inquisition is made, he still, at first, assumes the appearance of innocence and truthfulness.

26 And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?

26 But Divine Truth from Divine Good, or the Lord as the Divine Word, is omniscient, and discerns and distinguishes between the hypocrite, and him who is in charity, although it be without the discrimination of true doctrine. For genuine charity does not desire to receive either interior or exterior truths from self-love; nor can it, in this way, receive either inmost good and truth; or spiritual or natural affections, or even ministering knowledges and their delights.

27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

27 But all who, from self-love, seek to appropriate truths, of whatever degree or quality, are guilty of profaning them both in affection and thought, the result of which is, when confirmed, eternal and most profound vastation.

Author: Rev. HENRY MACLAGAN (1905)