Namaan was a commander of the army … a great man in the eyes of his master… highly regarded … a valiant soldier … but he had leprosy (2 Kings 5:1).
Leprosy, like corona virus, is no respecter of persons.
This week’s passage is about paying attention to “outside” voices, those that come from outside the normal channels, our preferred sources, the “proper authorities.” Namaan’s healing doesn’t come about through the “insiders” of his world. It comes through the voices of three outsiders.
The first is an unnamed, captured Israelite girl who is now a slave of Namaan’s wife. No status, position or power, but she speaks up anyway: “There’s a prophet in Samaria who could cure my master!”
Namaan asks his king’s permission to check out this report of a healing prophet in Israel. An extravagant gift is included: 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold (do the math—it’s a lot), and ten sets of clothing (whatever that means)!With a “gift” of this size, results had better be guaranteed—which is why the king of Israel reacts with dismay: “Am I God, able to kill and bring back to life? This guy’s trying to pick a fight!” (verse 7).
The second outsider is the prophet Elisha. God sends outsider-prophets to confront and challenge the insider powers that be. When Elisha learns of the king’s distress, he responds, “Send the guy to me—he’ll find out there’s a prophet in Israel!”
So Namaan and company show up at Elisha’s, who doesn’t even deign to come outside; he sends a servant (a ”bonus” outsider!) with the prescription, “Elisha says go wash in the Jordan seven times; you’ll be all set.”
Namaan is less than pleased: “My hometown rivers are ten times better than the Jordan! This “prophet” didn’t even come out to greet me or do some cool rituals or anything, the bum!” He’s about to storm off, when the third outsiders speak. This time, it’s Namaan’s servants: “Listen, boss, if the prophet had asked you to do something big and difficult, you’d have done it. He asked you to do something small and easy—why not do it? C’mon, boss, what ya got to lose?”
Being willing to listen to the voices of “outsiders” is the key to Namaan’s healing. What can a mere slave girl possibly have to offer to a highly-regarded, great man? What can the prophet of some ‘god’ Namaan’s never heard of possibly have to offer? And what about these servants daring to question their master?
Outsider voices aren’t always right—but neither are insider voices. Here’s a clue that God may be trying to get your attention through an outsider voice: what they’re saying makes you mad. Doesn’t make them right; does mean you might want to listen.
Who are the “outsider” voices in your life, the voices that challenge, annoy, frustrate, or make you “see red” or leave you totally confused? Keep it “local”—not “the media” or “the politicians.” Maybe your kids, spouse, relative, neighbor, friend. Where and how might God be trying to get your attention through these voices? Remember: everything they say isn’t necessarily right—how is God using them to address you?