Introduction: When you think about your future, what do you want to
happen? You want good things to happen! Good health, good jobs, good
relationships are the things we want. For some, the hope is even more
basic: enough to eat, freedom of speech, freedom to work, freedom of
religion. When bad things happen instead, we have a hard time
understanding how a loving God could permit it. John 9:1-3 records a
discussion about a blind man. Jesus explained he was blind “so that
the work of God might be displayed in his life.” When we face
difficult times, it presents an opportunity for God. Let’s jump into
our Bible study to learn more about this intriguing idea!
- Naaman and the Young Girl
- Read 2 Kings 5:1. Who was responsible for Naaman’s
success? (God had given him military success.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:2. Why was this young girl a captive? Isn’t
it a result of God’s blessings on Naaman?
- If this young girl is from Israel, has God given
Naaman the victory over Israel? (Actually, that is
not the case. Aram (Syria) successfully resisted the
Assyrians – the heavy weight nation in the area.
Syria engages in raiding of Israel, but it has not
- What would you think about your God if it appears
that His blessings to Naaman made it possible for you
to be a captive?
- Would you like to be Naaman? (He is a top leader in the
country, his boss admires him, the public loves him, and
he is brave and successful. However, he has a terrible
- Read 2 Kings 5:3-4. What kind of attitude does this young
girl have towards her captors? Would you have a similar
- How much advice do you think Naaman takes from young
- Notice that the slave girl’s advice is taken all the
way up to the King! How do you explain this? (Naaman
is desperate! Otherwise this makes no sense.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:5. Why would the King of Aram and Naaman
send gold and silver if they ruled Israel? (This confirms
that Aram does not rule Israel. They may be a more
dominant country, but they do not have control.)
- King of Israel
- Read 2 Kings 5:6-7. Compare the thinking of Naaman’s
Israeli slave girl with the thinking of the King of
Israel? (The King is considering only his own abilities!)
- Do you approach difficult problems the same way as
the King of Israel?
- The young slave girl is a missionary for God. If we
want to be God’s missionary, what should be our first
reaction to every situation in life?
- Read 2 Kings 5:8. Would you have worded Elisha’s message
the same way?
- Compare the wording found in 2 Kings 5:3? (God is
directing the writing of this story. Although it
bothers me that the arrow of attention is pointed at
the prophet rather than God, perhaps this reflects
God’s will. Perhaps it is my misunderstanding of what
is being said.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:9-12. Does Naaman have a reasonable point
- Read Romans 13:7. Naaman has a letter from the King
of Aram. The King of Israel has also sent him to
Elisha. Plus Naaman is an important man. Why is
Elisha snubbing him and refusing to show him honor?
- Let’s reconsider something we discussed before. I
thought God should be the focal point and not Elisha,
the prophet of God. But, if the point of the story is
that they are viewed as a unit – the prophet of God
is God’s representative – then it makes sense that
“God” would not need to come out to greet a mere
- Has your pride ever kept you from a blessing?
- Read 2 Kings 5:13-14. Who talks sense to Naaman? What does
this teach us about Naaman? (Naaman is a proud man – and
we can understand why. But, this reflects a pattern in his
life: he is willing to take advice from those “below” him.
Recall that he started this adventure because he was
willing to take advice from a young slave girl.)
- Let’s look again at 2 Kings 5:11. Would this have worked
if God decided on the approach Naaman wanted? (Of course.)
- Would doing it Naaman’s way have the added benefit of
putting the focus on God?(Adam Clarke’s Commentary
has a great insight. Clarke points out that Naaman
expected Elisha to “come out to me” – emphasis on the
“me.” Elisha should stand before Naaman (who is in
his chariot) to invoke God. This puts both Elisha and
God at the service of Naaman. Healing should be done
the way Naaman thinks is appropriate.)
- How many times do you demand that God do things
- Glory to God
- Read 2 Kings 5:15. Compare 2 Kings 5:9. What has changed?
(Naaman has dismounted from his chariot. Elisha has come
out to see Naaman.)
- Has this missionary endeavor worked? (Yes, and God
and Elisha did not treat Naaman gently.)
- Is this a lesson for missions? A loving God is
not always a gentle God?
- Read 2 Kings 5:16. Compare 1 Timothy 5:17-18. If a worker
is worthy of his reward, why did Elisha not take his
reward? (Recall my concern about focusing on the prophet
instead of God? This is the clearest statement about who
is responsible for the healing. If Elisha healed Naaman,
then he would have earned his reward. But, the great God
in heaven healed Naaman. For Elisha to take the reward
would be to take credit for God’s work.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:17. How do you explain this odd request?
Why does Naaman need dirt? (This reflects an error in
Naaman’s theology. He thinks that gods are territorial –
each nation has its own god. He wants dirt from Israel, so
that he can worship the true God on ground from Israel.)
- Read 2 Kings 5:18-19. Would you give Naaman a pass on
this? Naaman explains to Elisha that his job requires him
to bow down to a pagan god. I regularly have clients who
refuse to compromise their religious beliefs over a work
- Let’s discuss this: First, Naaman has a clear
theological misunderstanding that seriously undercuts
the authority of God. Second, he asks for permission
to sin in the future. Elisha’s response to these two
serious problems is “Go in peace.” Why?
- There is a long-running debate about whether or not
we should make sure a person knows all of the “rules”
before we baptize that person. If we baptize them
without explaining the rules, someone is always quick
to correct the new convert. What does Elisha’s
response teach us about this issue?
- Read Luke 23:40-43. This fellow not only missed the
baptismal classes, he missed the baptism! Is this a
“one-time exception” because of the circumstances?
(The answer to this series of questions is that we
too often trespass on the work of the Holy Spirit. If
someone wants to be baptized, we should do that
without creating all sorts of barriers. Once the
person accepts Jesus, as did the thief on the cross,
then the Holy Spirit should be the primary force to
convict the sinner of God’s will.)
- Does this mean we have no role in instructing
new Christians? (Read Matthew 28:19-20. We
clearly have a teaching role. However, notice
that even in Jesus’ Great Commission, He puts
baptism before teaching.)
- How important a witness do you think Naaman will be in the
future? (He is admired by the King and loved by the
people. He can have a huge impact to advance the Kingdom
of God in Aram.)
- How did this glorious result start? (With a young
- If she had not been taken captive, would we
have this glorious result?
- Friend, difficult times may create the opportunity for
great advances for the Kingdom of God. Will you ask the
Holy Spirit to keep you alert to these opportunities?
- Next week: The Jonah Saga.