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Bible Insights

Women in the Bible: Naaman’s Servant Girl

An unnamed Israelite girl is captured in a raid. Then they force her to work as a slave in the household of the enemy commander, Naaman. Although Naaman is an accomplished military leader, he suffers from a limiting physical ailment.

He has leprosy, a contagious skin disease that can cause a loss of feeling, decay, and even deformation.

Though she could have been bitter over her forced servitude, the young girl instead desires the best for her master. She tells him of the prophet Elisha who can heal Naaman of his terrible disease.

May we be willing to help others, regardless of the situation. Click To Tweet

He proceeds at once and is healed—as soon as he overcomes his pride, humbles himself, and follows Elisha’s instructions. Naaman then affirms the power of God and pledges to worship only him.

Though she had every reason to remain quiet, the girl’s confidence in God’s power and her willingness to speak up, led to a man’s healing and God praised.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Kings 5-7, and today’s post is on 2 Kings 5:1-19.]

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Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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When Given a Faith Ultimatum is Martyrdom Required?

Elisha seems to allow an alternative to taking a life-threatening stand for God

I love the story of Naaman in the Bible. He commands the enemy army, conducts raids into Israel, and even has a Hebrew girl as a slave. It’s this girl, full of faith and void of resentment, who suggests Naaman go to the prophet Elisha for healing of his leprosy.

Despite Naaman’s complete unworthiness (sound familiar?), God has compassion and wants to remove this disease. Though there are some twists along the way, God does heal him. However it’s easy to miss a small detail in the middle of the story.

After he is healed, Naaman seeks forgiveness for something he knows he will do in the future, something he now comprehends as wrong. In the course of his service to his king, Naaman will have to go into the temple of Rimmon and bow down in worship.

Naaman’s life will be on the line if he doesn’t. If he fails to kneel to this foreign god, he will be summarily executed.

Today we hear stories of those fully committed to their faith in Jesus; they refuse to bow in worship to anyone but him. They stand firm and are summarily executed. They take a stand for Jesus and are martyred.

I expect Elisha to tell Naaman to do just that, to affirm God as the only true god, to refuse to bend his knee, and to die for his convictions.

But Elisha doesn’t. Instead he gives approval for Naaman to not take a stand and permits him to bow in worship to another god. Elisha says, “Go in peace.”

This gives me pause.

God knows Naaman’s heart and that his bowing to Rimmon is merely a life-preserving tactic. Through Elisha, God gives Naaman permission to pretend to worship another god and live, instead of refusing to and die.

God permits Naaman to pretend to worship another god and live, instead of refusing to and die. Click To Tweet

Most martyrs have no control over their fate and are helpless victims of hate and opposition, but some have an option: affirm your faith and die or equivocate and live.

While we shouldn’t take this passage as permission to avoid taking a stand for Jesus if our life is at stake, we also shouldn’t conclude that God doesn’t allow for exceptions. Our response, if faced with such a situation, is for us to discern.

May God grant us the wisdom to do so.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Kings 5-7, and today’s post is on 2 Kings 5:18-19.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Naaman Overcomes his Pride

Naaman Overcomes his Pride

The Bible includes the story of Naaman, an Aramean army commander, who has leprosy (at the time, a contagious skin disease).

His Jewish servant girl suggests that he go and see Elisha, in Israel, to be healed. Naaman eagerly goes, but feels slighted by Elisha, who doesn’t even bother to greet his powerful visitor, instead sending a servant with the simple message to wash seven times in the river to be healed.

Naaman is not used to being treated that way; he storms off in a huff. He wanted attention. Instead he expected that a grand and glorious display of power would be given to bring about his healing.

Fortunately, the cooler head of another of his servants prevails, essentially saying, “Don’t be proud; you have nothing to lose.”

Naaman agrees. He performs the humble task of washing himself in the river—and God heals him!

Sometimes when we ask for God’s help, we expect one thing, but he provides an unexpected response. What do we do then, stomp off in a huff or dutifully follow God’s instructions?

In Naaman’s case, he had to humble himself before receiving God’s reward. We should not be surprised when we must do the same.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Kings 5-7, and today’s post is on 2 Kings 5.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.