Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (28 JUL)

Pastor's Summary of II Kings 5:1-14

The last in the series of texts relating to the prophetic ministries of Elijah and Elisha is the narrative of the healing of the Aramean general Naaman, 2 Kings 5:1-14. The passage is a study in contrasts, portraying the arrogance of the leprous Naaman, on the one hand, and the faithfulness of Naaman's anonymous servants, on the other. Because of the trust expressed by these unnamed menials and because of the power vested in Yahweh's prophet, Elisha, Naaman's innermost being, his "soul", is cleansed.

A significant issue is the effect that Elisha's miracle has on Naaman. This change in his attitude and orientation is something the saving presence of God brings about. Psalm 30 sings exuberantly:

"You have turned my mourning into dancing...so that my soul may praise you and not be silent." (Vs. 11-12.)

The point is clear: when the redeeming grace of God is given an opportunity to enter the life of a person, that life can never, ever remain the same! It is a new life, reoriented, redirected.

Because Naaman assumes that all deities are territorial, his affirmation is that the only true God resides in Israel. In graittude and devotion to this God who has saved him, he requests that he be permitted to take part of Israel home with him, in the form of "two mule-loads of earth. He will then be able to worship the God of Israel on Israelite soil, a daring thing to do in light of the tradtional enmity between his and Elisha's nation.

His change of heart is so through and sincere that his request for absolution in future instances of politically motivated idolatry is indulged by Elisha, who simply says, "Go in peace".