Naaman was willing to do almost anything to rid himself of this appalling disease, but this was almost too much to bear. Here he was in Samaria of all places, humiliated in front of his own countrymen, and outraged that an Israelite had not shown the proper respect he had been accustomed to receiving as commander of the Syrian army.
Naaman was considered a hero among the people of Syria and admired by the King himself. But although he was a powerful commander of the royal troops, he had been stricken with the revolting plague of leprosy, and in desperation, he began to earnestly search for someone who could provide a remedy. A young servant girl, his wife's personal maid, had mentioned that a prophet from her country, a man in the city of Samaria, had just the cure.
So, carrying with him the King's letter, which requested that he receive healing in Israel, Naaman and his company of soldiers and servants, horses and chariots journeyed from the northern country of Syria to meet with the King of Israel. After a short delay of confusion and misunderstanding at King Joram's palace in Samaria, Naaman and his party were eventually instructed to move on to the prophet Elisha's house.
But the prophet, who was expected to conduct a miraculous performance, didn't even step outside to chat with the commandernot even for a moment. Instead, Naaman had been briefly given another set of orders and this time by a mere servant. Unbelievably, he was told to go to yet another placethe Jordan River. And of all things, he was to dip himself into that filthy water…and…for a total of seven times! The thought of having to lower himself to such a demeaning experience was preposterous, and the officer was infuriated.
While Commander Naaman was fuming to the point he couldn't quite think straight, his servants had decided they weren't about to let him throw away this amazing opportunity. It wasn't only Naaman who had suffered when he discovered the reality of the disease. His servants had also been crushed by the news. And while they understood that their master's ego had suffered an unusual blow, they still wanted to see him recover. It was time to have a heart-to-heart talk.
* * *
As the group cautiously approached the commander, one of the servants spoke up.
"Master, if the prophet had sent a message telling you to do some great and noble deed, wouldn't you have done what he had directed you to do? So now, even when he asks you to do something as simple as washing in the river, why not do it? What will it hurt? "
The other servants likewise joined in the conversation, each in their own way trying to reason with their master. Fortunately, Naaman was an intelligent and sensible man who couldn't deny that his servants had presented a reasonable case. Moreover, he had to appreciate their sincere respect and concern. And to their relief, it wasn't long before they had successfully convinced the commander to set aside his pride.
* * *
The large group from Syria watched apprehensively as Naaman walked to the Jordan. Their commander had been rightthis river was certainly nothing to brag about. Nevertheless, they were delighted when they saw him move forward and wade out to where it was deep enough to submerge beneath the clouded waters.
In the next moment, he sunk below the murky current and immediately came up to take a breath. Then he dipped himself a second time…and came up again. The waters covered him a third time, and he arose once more as the crowd watched intently.
No one yet could detect even the slightest of change. Still, the commander plunged again for the fourth time…a fifth time…a sixth time. It was almost too difficult to watch, and who knew what to expect as the master lowered into the depths once more?
No one moved a muscle, nor did anyone make a sound at the instant Naaman dropped under for the seventh and final time. Seconds later, he broke through the top and stood back on his feet. As the dingy water slipped away from his body, they all moved forward to get a better view of his skin…and the sight just about took their breath away.