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!

  1. Naaman and the Young Girl

    1. Read 2 Kings 5:1. Who was responsible for Naaman’s
      success? (God had given him military success.)

    2. Read 2 Kings 5:2. Why was this young girl a captive? Isn’t
      it a result of God’s blessings on Naaman?

      1. 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
        conquered Israel.)

      2. What would you think about your God if it appears
        that His blessings to Naaman made it possible for you
        to be a captive?

    3. 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
      disease: leprosy.)

    4. Read 2 Kings 5:3-4. What kind of attitude does this young
      girl have towards her captors? Would you have a similar

      1. How much advice do you think Naaman takes from young
        slave girls?

      2. 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.)

    5. 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.)

  2. King of Israel

    1. 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!)

      1. Do you approach difficult problems the same way as
        the King of Israel?

      2. 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?

    2. Read 2 Kings 5:8. Would you have worded Elisha’s message
      the same way?

      1. 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.)

  3. Pride

    1. Read 2 Kings 5:9-12. Does Naaman have a reasonable point
      of view?

      1. 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?

      2. 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

      3. Has your pride ever kept you from a blessing?

    2. 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.)

    3. Let’s look again at 2 Kings 5:11. Would this have worked
      if God decided on the approach Naaman wanted? (Of course.)

      1. 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.)

        1. How many times do you demand that God do things
          your way?

  4. Glory to God

    1. 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.)

      1. Has this missionary endeavor worked? (Yes, and God
        and Elisha did not treat Naaman gently.)

        1. Is this a lesson for missions? A loving God is
          not always a gentle God?

    2. 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.)
    3. 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.)

    4. 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

      1. 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?

      2. 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?

      3. 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.)

        1. 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.)

    5. 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.)

      1. How did this glorious result start? (With a young
        slave girl.)

        1. If she had not been taken captive, would we
          have this glorious result?

    6. 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?

  5. Next week: The Jonah Saga.