Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.4. Naaman and His Healing
1. Naaman, the leper (2Kings 5:1)
2. The testimony of the maid of Israel (2Kings 5:2-4)
3. The message to the king of Israel (2Kings 5:5-8)
4. Naaman and Elisha (2Kings 5:9-19)
5. Gehazi; His sin and punishment (2Kings 5:20-27)
The story of this chapter is peculiarly rich in its spiritual and dispensational meaning. Naaman, captain of Ben-hadad, the King of Syria, was a Gentile. He was no common man. In all his greatness and might, with all the honors heaped upon him and wealth at his command, he was an unhappy and doomed man, for he was a leper. Leprosy is a type of sin. Here, then, is a picture of the natural man, enjoying the highest and the best--but withal a leper. And then the little captive, taken from Israel’s land, away from her home and family--what a contrast with the great Naaman! In her captivity she was happy, for she knew the Lord and knew that the prophet in Samaria, the great representative of Jehovah, could heal leprosy. She knew and she believed. The grace which filled the heart gave her also a desire to see the mighty Naaman healed; the same grace gave her power to bear witness.
And how the Lord used the simple testimony! The King of Syria heard of it and addressed a letter to the King of Israel demanding that he should recover Naaman from his leprosy. And Naaman departed with “ten talents of silver and six thousand pieces of gold besides ten changes of raiment.” And the King of Israel, Jehoram, no doubt, was filled with fear, for he thought the King of Syria was seeking a pretext to quarrel with him. While he readily acknowledged that God alone has the power to heal, he did not look to the Lord nor did he think of the mighty prophet, whose very name declared that God is salvation. In helpless and hopeless terror, in the despair of unbelief he rent his clothes.
It was then that the man of God spoke reproving the King, asking that Naaman come to him. Then Naaman, with his horses and chariot, laden with the treasures, stood at the door of the house of Elisha. The prophet through a messenger told the leper, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.” Well may we think here of our Lord Jesus, who cleansed the leper, and in doing so manifested Himself as Jehovah. But how He shines above all!
When the leper comes to Him, it is not as with the king, “Am I God, that I should heal a man of his leprosy?” nor is it as with the prophet, “Go wash in Jordan, and be clean.” No; but He reveals Himself at once in the place and power of God. “I will, be thou clean.” Elisha was but a preacher of Jesus to Naaman; the Lord Jesus was the lepers’ cleansing, the healing God. Elisha did not venture to touch the leper. This would have defiled him. But our Lord “put forth His hand and touched him;” for He, with the rights of the God of Israel, was above the leper, and could consume and not contract the defilement (J.G. Bellett).
And Naaman’s wrath and indignation were stirred by Elisha’s command. The great and mighty captain with his treasures expected a different reception from the prophet. He expected him at least to do what heathen priests with their enchantments did, to call on the name of the Lord his God and strike his hand over the place of leprosy. He rejects the remedy which grace had provided because it humbled him into dust and stripped him of his pride. It is just this the sinner needs. Naaman had to learn that he was nothing but a poor, lost leper. All his silver and gold could not purchase cleansing for him. He needed humiliation and the obedience of faith. And so he learned as his servants reasoned with him, and instead of returning in a rage to Damascus as the helpless leper, he obeyed the given command and dipped himself seven times in Jordan--”and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” Jordan is the type of death, as we saw in the study of Joshua. Our Lord was baptized by John in that river, for He had come to take the sinners’ place in death. Naaman bathing in Jordan typifies death and resurrection in which there is cleansing and healing for the spiritual leper, but it is the death and resurrection of our blessed Lord. As we believe on Him who died for our sins according to Scripture, and was raised for our justification, we are born again and made clean. It is the one way of salvation, the only way, revealed in every portion of God’s holy Word. “Saved by grace through faith (in Him who died for our sins), it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”
And the blessed results of true salvation are seen at once in Naaman the Syrian. He is fully restored and healed. He stands now before the man of God, no longer the proud, self-trusting Naaman, but an humble believer. He confesses the Lord with his lips. He offers also a gift to Elisha. (“A blessing” means a gift.) He could not give anything to effect his cleansing, but after the healing he offered willingly. But Elisha refused the reward offered to him. He had freely received and freely he gave (Matthew 10:8). Then he requested “two mules’ burden of earth.” This was to be used to build an altar unto Jehovah in Syria. It was an outward expression of his faith and would be a testimony among the heathen that there is but one Lord to be worshipped. And there was the tender conscience (verse 18). Finally he departed in peace. “Go in peace”; the same words our blessed Lord used repeatedly. And Gehazi’s covetousness earned him the leprosy from which grace had delivered the Syrian Gentile. The story is full of solemn lessons.
Dispensationally Naaman stands for the Gentiles. Through Him who is greater than Elisha salvation has been extended to the Gentiles, while Gehazi, who was closely connected with Elisha, but who had hardened his heart, is a type of Israel.