Servant girl helps cure enemy


There is an fascinating story told in the Second book of Kings (Chapter 5) about a young Jewish girl who was taken captive by the commander of the army of the king of Aram, a neighboring country and potential enemy of the nation of Israel. The commander’s name was Naaman and the young girl lived under his roof as a servant to his wife.

Naaman was a valiant soldier, but he had contracted leprosy. Now the servant girl (we never do know her name) knew there was a prophet, Elisha, in Israel who could cure diseases. “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria!” she told her mistress. “He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Desperate for a cure to what at that time was an incurable disease, Naaman went to the king and told him what the girl had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman went, taking with him gifts of gold, silver and fine clothing. But when the king of Israel received Naaman and the letter he reacted unfavorably. “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” He thought it was a set-up for his failure perhaps to provoke a conflict. And the king tore his clothes.

Fortunately, Elisha heard what had happened and sent him a message, “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (These guys sent a lot of messages. They would have loved email!) So Naaman went to Elisha and at this point the story takes a little twist.

Hearing that Naaman was coming to his house, Elisha sent a messenger out to meet Naaman and tell him to wash seven times in the Jordan River and he would be healed. Well, Naaman was a little put out that Elisha sent an email and didn’t come out to heal him himself, and why should he wash in the Jordan? “Are not the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?” and he stormed off in a huff.

Fortunately for Naaman, he had some smart servants with him who talked him out of his anger and convinced him to do what Elisha said, and when he did, he was completely healed and his flesh “became clean like that of a young boy.” Seeing this, Naaman returned to Elisha and claimed allegiance to the God of Israel. He even packed some stones and earth from Israel to take home with him so he could build an altar on his property in Aram to Yahweh, and vowed to “never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord.”

All this because a young servant girl, captive in a foreign land, pointed someone who needed help to the one true God she worshiped. This is not only an example of redemption and worship, but of loving one’s enemy.

Is it not the same for us? Are we not captives in a foreign land where many around us are serving false gods who can’t deliver on their promises? And don’t we have the same role as this simple young girl — to send people to Jesus? “Why are you suffering when there is someone who can heal you? May I introduce you to Him?”

We are in a foreign land introducing our enemies to the gospel of welcome — grace turned outward. How simple is that? If a servant girl can do this, surely we can too.

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5 Responses to Servant girl helps cure enemy

  1. Wayne C Bridegroom says:

    If I recall correctly from the “Perspectives” class some 30 years ago the Gospel came to the Scandinavian countries in the same way. Rome was falling apart and the invaders brought Christian girls back to the homelands as slaves. Those young ladies shared the love of Jesus with their captors and as the saying goes, “the rest is history.”

  2. Paul Sonkowsky says:

    Naaman’s problem in 2 Kings 5:11 is often my problem too. I want to write the script! God is supposed to work *this* way, not *that* way.

    Last September my mom died, 9 days later I was laid off from work, and now I’m “retired”. Not how I would have chosen for things to go if I were running the show. Yet it has spurred me toward improved health, both physically (diet and exercise, dropping excess weight) and spiritually (time in the Word, time for reflection).

    It’s worth reading those Old Testament “emails”.

  3. A young Jewish girls story:

    I imagine that hope did not always come easily to the Jewish people. I grew up with a grandfather who survived the Holocaust that wiped out most of our family and one-third of the world’s Jewish population. I cannot fathom how it was possible for any Jews to have hope for a future while thousands were gassed and cremated daily. It was the darkest chapter in Jewish history, and it is incomprehensible that anyone could see the light.

    My grandfather told me countless stories about what happened to him and his family during the Holocaust. He grew up in Germany, and when it became apparent that the Nazis intended to exterminate the Jews, his family left all they had and fled. The family was fortunate enough to have a car, which they used to drive as far as they could to cross the border. At some point along the way, the car ran out of gas and they were stranded.

    My great-grandfather had been on his way to get gas for the car when he was told that the Nazis were headed in the direction of his family. He abandoned the quest for fuel and ran to find his family and bring them to a safe place. By the time he got to the car, all he saw were shards of glass, bullets, and no sign of his family. He was certain that his family had been murdered.

    Still, he did not give up hope that perhaps they had survived, and while my great-grandmother tried to move on without her husband, a part of her refused to give up hope that just maybe he was alive. Each one held out the tiniest bit of hope that the other had survived, and eventually they found one another.

    These were my bedtime stories growing up. Seared into my soul is the notion that no matter how hopeless a situation looks, there is always room for hope. Against the dark backdrop of the Holocaust, I learned to see the glimmer of light, no matter how faint, in every situation.

    Years later, I would hear my father compare the aftermath of the Holocaust to Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones. After the Shoah, the Jewish people were decimated. Whole communities were utterly wiped out, and along with them, hundreds of learning institutions, millions of Jewish scholars, countless cultural centers, and the security that Jews once enjoyed living in this world. How could such a decimated people go on and live again?

    And yet, from the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel rose to life.

    By the time I was born, the Jewish state, the Israeli army, and religious freedom for Jews in most parts of the world were all givens. I never knew a time without them. Nevertheless, I also never forgot the stories I heard firsthand from my grandfather about what had happened in the terrible years before. This has always been the Jewish way — to hope for the future while remembering our painful history.

    ~ Yael Eckstein

    This month, Jews around the world will observe Tisha B’Av, the darkest day on the Jewish calendar when we mark the destruction of the two Holy Temples and other calamities that have occurred on this day.

    The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
    on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned. — Isaiah 9:2

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