Today’s Old Testament reading from 2 Kings includes the story (5:1 -27) of how Naaman, the commander of Syrian army came to believe in the God of Israel while, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha dishonored the God of Israel and suffered Naaman’s skin disease. The story has 3 references to servants. First, there is the unnamed young girl who was captured in the land of Israel and ends up serving the wife of Naaman. She expresses her wish for her mistress’s husband, Naaman to go to Israel’s prophet Elisha and be healed of his skin disease. The second reference to servants is the servants of Naaman who encourage him to follow the directions of Elisha, who tells Naaman to simply wash himself in the Jordan river 7 times to be healed. Naaman is angered by Elisha’s prescription, but his servants convince him to do as the prophet of God says.

Gehazi is the 3rd servant in this story, and he first appears in 2 Kings 4 in the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman. Gehazi has seen the Lord working through Elisha, yet when it appears to him that Naaman is going to return back to Syria after being healed by Elisha at no cost to Naaman, it is more than he can bear. He devises a plan to enrich himself at Naaman’s cost that involves deceiving both Elisha and Naaman. Naaman is more than happy to give Gehazi silver and 2 sets of clothes, giving him twice the amount of silver he asked for. But in his greed, Gehazi has dishonored the ministry of Elisha, prophet of the God of Israel and as a result, he suffers the disease of Naaman. along with some of the Syrian’s wealth.

The words and actions of the young Israelite girl and the servants of Naaman result in Naaman’s declaration in 5:15: “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel…” But the words and actions of Gehazi resulted in his being punished with the disease of Naaman.

The servant Gehazi had witnessed the miracle of the Shunammite woman’s son being raised from the dead in 2 Kings 4 and then again in 2 Kings 5 a display of God’s power in the cleansing of Naaman and Naaman’s belief in the God of Israel, but all Gehazi could think about was money. His story serves as a warning for us on the consequences of greed.

by Paul Schmidt, Elder

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