Enslaved

(I will be using the word, “Selah” as we meditate on the Scripture passage today. You can learn more about this word from my blog entitled In a Word: “Selah,” posted October 9, 2021. “…The psalmist ends each phrase with the word “Selah”, which means “forever” or “to lift up; exalt”, its presence in the psalm is a cue for us to pause or to take a breath allowing our minds to take in what the psalmist has proclaimed. It serves as a sacred and silent interlude for us to receive the LORD’s truth.”)

Naaman, the army commander of the king of Syria,
was highly esteemed and respected by his master,
for through him the LORD had brought victory to Syria.
But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.
Now the Syrians had captured in a raid on the land of Israel
a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife.
“If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,”
she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman went and told his lord
just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said.
“Go,” said the king of Syria.
“I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”
So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents,
six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments.
To the king of Israel,
he brought the letter, which read:
“With this letter, I am sending my servant Naaman to you,
that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

When he read the letter,
the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed:
“Am I a god with power over life and death,
that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy?
Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!”
When Elisha, the man of God,
heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments,
he sent word to the king:
“Why have you torn your garments?
Let him come to me and find out
that there is a prophet in Israel.”


Naaman came with his horses and chariots
and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.
The prophet sent him the message:
“Go and wash seven times in the Jordan,
and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”
But Naaman went away angry, saying,
“I thought that he would surely come out and stand there
to invoke the LORD his God,
and would move his hand over the spot,
and thus cure my leprosy.
Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar,
better than all the waters of Israel?
Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?”
With this, he turned about in anger and left.


But his servants came up and reasoned with him.
“My father,” they said,
“if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary,
would you not have done it?
All the more now, since he said to you,
‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.”
So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times
at the word of the man of God.
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.


He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God.
On his arrival, he stood before him and said,
“Now I know that there is no God in all the earth,
except in Israel.”

II Kings 5: 1-15

The Old Testaments’ stories of God’s intervention in human circumstances are intriguing to read as all of Sacred Scripture. Everything within it is necessary for our salvation, and we know that the story of Scripture is the story of us. Meditating on the Word of God allows room for his Holy Spirit to direct our lives, transforming our minds, in sum, saving us from ourselves.

Namaan’s attitude toward what the LORD required him to do for his physical healing from leprosy gets at the disposition of the heart that the LORD desires from us. Humility is the path of salvation from ourselves and the mess we can make of our relationships. And then there is a lesson for us through the actions of the nameless servant girl and other servants who were in the background of Namaan’s existence.

Namaan was enslaved by leprosy, yet he was a commander in the formidable Aramaen (modern-day Syria) army; he was not an Israelite; he was an enemy of Israel. Nevertheless, the LORD had brought him victory. “He was a mighty man of valor, but he had leprosy.” We are or have been in Namaan’s sandals, haven’t we? We walk the tightrope of what others know of us–how we are identified based on what we do and how we measure up. It is always honoring to our LORD when we conduct ourselves with integrity. But what comes after the comma of our public self is what is most important about us. There is where our loving LORD desires to bring to order in us his divine image. Namaan’s problem was leprosy was obvious, but it is clear the LORD was after another enslavement by his disordered pride.

He bristled at St. Elisha’s directive to go and wash in the Jordan river 7 times and responded out of his disordered pride:

But Naaman went away angry, saying,
“I thought that he would surely come out and stand there
to invoke the LORD his God,
and would move his hand over the spot,
and thus cure his leprosy.
Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar,
better than all the waters of Israel?
Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?”
With this, he turned about in anger and left.

We know the story ends well for Namaan, but, left to his own devices, it wouldn’t have, had it not been for the voices of the nameless servants in the background of his life. The little servant girl to Namaan’s wife had the courage and faith in the God of her ancestors to speak up with a beautiful response to Namaan’s disease. Considering that she was a little girl taken captive and enslaved in a raid by Namaan’s Syrian army against her home and family, her response is striking. To Namaan, she was just one of the many spoils of war. In God’s eyes, she was an instrument of healing.

The other nameless slaves, who very well could have been captives themselves, intervened when Namaan wanted to stomp away from the ground where his healing lay:

But his servants came up and reasoned with him.
“My father,” they said,
“if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary,
would you not have done it?

The motivation of the slaves’ courage to intervene is observed in how they addressed their master, “My father…”. They honored their master.

Friends, do you find yourself in the narrative? I do! As I’ve spent time in meditation on this Scripture, the LORD has reminded me of a few things.

As in Namaan’s life, the enslavement to a physical illness or disability can be healing for our spirit’s deeper disease of Pride, Fear, and Anger. Suffering is the gift from our Suffering Servant and Savior to draw us back to who he created us to be–a beloved child created in his image.

Like the enslaved little servant girl, circumstances that we are in through no fault of our own could make us bitter if we don’t recognize God’s providence is always at work to save us from the unjust suffering of our lives.

Like the enslaved servants of the honorable Namaan, the LORD places us in the lives of others to love and honor them, even make intercession for them. We give of our love through mercy and grace, courage and perseverance to serve the LORD by serving others despite what may be discouraging circumstances in our lives.

Our LORD and Savior, we say with Namaan, we know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. LORD, we desire to worship you with our entire being, but that includes some humiliation and unwanted circumstances from time to time. Would you help us to humble ourselves as Namaan did? Would you help us to forgive others and desire the best for them as the little servant girl did? Please help us to consider our service to others as an offering to you who died serving us! As you destroyed death, hell, and the grave to resurrect us to live with you, may we continue your work of salvation in and through our circumstances and the suffering of our lives.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen

Published by

The Maiden Warrior

Greetings, friend. "In silence and rest is your salvation" are words from the prophet Isaiah that echo the desire of my life. I've been following that desire my entire life as I seek to live and move and have my being in what the LORD desires for me. I'm still learning the beauty of silence and rest as my salvation, it's a long obedience in the right direction. This is my journey.

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