Naaman, commander of the Syrian army, was plagued with a sickness that would have certainly prevented him from serving if he were an Israelite. As a Syrian he was not prevented. Highly regarded as a military man, on one occasion he sweeps into Israel, gains the victory, and brings captives back with him for his king’s service. One of Naaman’s captive now becomes his servant, and she notes his ailment and speaks about the Lord’s prophet in Israel. Naaman inquires of his king, and the king of Syria inquires of Israel’s king (5:1-7). Elisha calls for the Syrian commander to come to his home; the commander comes, and Elisha sends out a servant to tell him to go and wash in the Jordon, being sure to dip himself seven times. Embarrassed, the army commander goes into a fit of rage and leaves. He is persuaded to think differently, and having returned from the Jordon, he is a clean man (5:8-14). Naaman is amazed beyond measure; he is amazed to the point, it appears, of complete conversion to the God of Israel (5:15-19). Elisha’s servant, however, was “converted” in a different direction. He lost sight of the Lord and sought to gain what Naaman previously offered. Elisha was fully aware of Gehazi’s spiritual failings and declared that what left Naaman was to cling to his, now, one time servant (5:20-27).
Application: When we lose sight of that which is of great value the direction we begin to take is one further and further away from the Lord. Paul marveled at the Galatians because they were doing such a thing as that (Galatians 1:6; 3:1). Recognizing the value of the Lord’s Way, why would anyone turn away from it? The answer lies in the influences in life. It starts with just a little nudge, and before long that little nudge has turned into a torrent and moved us so far away that we wonder if we can find our way back.