Articles, Healing Naaman

Healing Naaman

Have you ever wondered why Naaman had to wash himself 7 times in the river? A friend of mine asked me this question recently and this prompted me to look at the story of Naaman through the grid of the redemptive gifts. Here’s what we discovered. Keep in mind that our spirits were designed by God to have all the gifts.

Naaman, a mighty man of valour, who had won the war for Syria, was ill… he had leprosy. His wife had a little Israelite servant. She possibly had the redemptive gift of service, as she clearly served Naaman’s wife with a good attitude in spite of the fact that she was taken by them in war, and she boldly stood against premature death – a major area of authority for the gift of servant.

This posed Naaman with the very first challenge- he had to accept help from a servant-girl, but he was a desperate man. Naaman’s prophet gift in his spirit faced a problem he could not fix in his usual manner… this problem was not going to be fixed with his sword. So the prophet gift yielded to the advice of a servant girl and off he went to Israel in search of healing. Now Naaman clearly had favour from God, because lepers were not allowed inside the city let alone into the presence of the king, yet both his own king and the king of Israel received him.

The king of Israel’s prophet gift in his spirit, however, assumed responsibility for a problem that was not his to solve, and rent his clothes when he realized that this one was out of his league. How peculiar for a king that is supposedly reigning over the people of the one and only living God. This King did not make a habit of going to God with his problems, did he? He did not even think of referring the man to Elisha. 

However, the bush telegram of that day seemed to work as well as cellphones do these days, because the message somehow reached Elisha quickly enough for the prophet gift in his spirit to accept responsibility for a problem that was assigned to him by God. He managed to get a message to the king to send Naaman to him, before Naaman could return to his own country.

So Naaman packed up his horses and chariots and went to Elisha. When Naaman arrived at Elisha’s place Elisha did not even meet with him. Elisha knew his God and he knew that he could not heal the man, but he already had the answer from God as to what the man should do to get healed. So he just sent a message to Naaman to go and wash himself 7 times in the river. Now, going to wash in the river to be healed is a very servant-like prophetic action if we take into account that the waters above the earth and on the earth were seperated on the servant’s creation day, and the servant’s tabernacle symbol is the washbasin etc… Naaman had to submit to the servant-gift in the spirit to be healed. What a challenge for a mighty man of valour, to humble himself to the extent to go and wash in the river.

His teacher gift was offended by the completely illogical reasoning of the Prophet. What makes Israel’s rivers different than the rivers in Syria? In actual fact he thought the rivers in Syria is better than those in Israel.  The water there did not work why should it work here?  After all there is no proof that washing in water heals leprosy? He expected the man of God to wave his hand over the place, that was probably what he was used to in his own religious context.  Its a perfect example of God taking on the religious spirit with a very unorthodox method of healing, and Naaman went away in a rage… for 2 reasons… there was no personal interaction with him from the prophet of God and because the solution made no logical sense.  He expected something more. He expected a power-encounter with the God of the Prophet of Israel, not an illogical ‘humble yourself’ encounter. In addition to this, he was used to people tending to him.  His exhorter gift was clearly offended that the man of God did not even come out and interacted with him personally.  He was offended by the solution offered, had a few suggestions as to how he thought it could be done better, and left without any healing.

But Naaman had wonderful servants who clearly loved and cared about him, because for a second time they built a platform of success under the man… they talked him into doing what the prophet suggested – since it was no difficult task and besides, he had nothing to lose, did he? 

And so the teacher gift in Naaman’s spirit had to bury the many arguments and submit to the strange idea of doing something so unreligious as washing in the river, and the exhorter-gift  had to overcome the offence of not being tended to personally and focus on the God of Elisha rather than on Elisha himself.  Naaman humbled himself, went and washed 7 times in the river, and came out miraculously healed by the God of Israel!

So what was Naaman’s reaction? He honoured and acknowledged the God of Israel as the only true God in all of the earth! He realised that this was no man that healed him, nobody but the living God alone can receive the honour and praise. The exhorter-gift in his spirit celebrated the God of Israel unashamedly.

Out of the abundance of the mighty man of valour, the giver-gift in his spirit came to the front and offered the prophet a gift of gratitude, but Elisha refused the gift in spite of Naaman’s insistence. Thus, the giver-gift had to humble himself to just receive from God, no chance of trying to earn the favour of God through giving. Once again he received from Israel when he asked for a gift of 2 mule’s burden of earth. 

Now if I have to vote for what Naaman’s primary gifting was, I would go for ruler. The fact that he was a mighty man of valour in the army of the Syrian king might be the first clue, but then in vs. 13 his servants call him “Father”. They clearly did not see him as a harsh slave master but it seems that his ruler-gift’s anointing to father others was alive and well. His ability to acknowledge and recognise true authority, to walk in authority himself but at the same time his relative easy acceptance of other’s authority, and his willingness to submit to authority, gives us a beautiful picture of the ruler-gift.

The mercy gift in his spirit came to the front when he declared his intention to walk in intimacy with the God of Israel and to never sacrifice to any other God but the God of Israel ever again. However, he realised that he was still subordinate to the authority of a King who served foreign gods and clearly did not see his way open to end up in conflict with his King, when the King goes to worship Rimmon and he is required to bow down in the temple. And yet…Elisha sent him on his way with the words “Go in peace”, for the God of Elisha knew that the whole of Naaman’s spirit, each and every one of the 7 gifts in his spirit, was cleansed in that river in Israel. Never again would his spirit bow down before a foreign God.

Wow! What a story… What an amazing God we serve! This exhorter is celebrating her God – profusely. 

© 2013 Author:  Gerda Venter