Naaman was a mighty warrior, a commander in the army of the king of Aram (Syria) a country at war with Israel. The Arameans had no knowledge of Jehovah for they were worshippers of Rimmon (Baal)—a wicked, bloodthirsty god of a depraved and vicious people. They were the terrorists of their day—a nation with no regard for the sanctity of human life. The source of their coveted victory over Israel, or so they erroneously thought, would be their god and their king, Ben Hadad. Naaman was his closest advisor—a brilliant soldier.
Naaman had a deep, dark secret: he was a leper. Time and again, his condition was pronounced hopeless. No one had a cure for what was then an ultimately fatal disease. The great man would slowly waste away, bit by bit, until his life was gone. But God had planted a witness in Naaman’s household—the little slave girl. We are not told her name or her age, only of her compassionate nature toward her captor.
She boldly declared that the God of Elisha could deliver her master from the awful disease that had enveloped his body even though he was an enemy to Israel. This young missionary planted a seed that would soon grow to fruition. As Naaman listened to his wife recount the conversation, a spark began to ignite inside him; hope began to arise as he prepared to make a foray into the land of Israel—not to wage war against its people, but to battle his illness.
The proud soldier set off in search of the prophet in Israel. Sitting astride his magnificent mount, the commander waited for the prophet to show his face—probably becoming more and more irritated by the delay. Suddenly a man appeared; not the prophet himself, but his servant with a message: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” Naaman was livid! How dare this lowly prophet send a servant to tell him to wash himself in the vile, muddy Jordan River! Why, he could return home and bathe in the pristine waters of one of the rivers of Damascus. He was done with this charlatan!
Little did he realize that healing was in his grasp—but only through the power of Jehovah and only by his obedience to the instructions of the prophet. God had no regard for Naaman’s pride, position, possessions, or propositions. He simply wanted Naaman to abandon himself to the strong arms of a loving God and submit to His directive: Go and wash. The healing properties were not to be found in the waters of the Jordan, but in the obedience of Naaman. As he began to dip in the waters of the Jordan—once, twice, three times, four, five, six, and then seven times—humility and obedience brought favor with God and deliverance from the disease that had attacked his body.