2 Kings 5
Two more of Elisha's miracles are recorded in this chapter.
I. The cleansing of Naaman, a Syrian, a stranger, from his leprosy, and
1. The badness of his case,
2 Kings 5:1.
2. The providence that brought him to Elisha, the intelligence given
him by a captive maid,
2 Kings 5:2-4.
A letter from the king of Syria to the king of Israel, to introduce him,
2 Kings 5:5-7.
And the invitation Elisha sent him,
2 Kings 5:8.
3. The method prescribed for his cure, his submission, with much ado,
to that method, and his cure thereby,
2 Kings 5:9-14.
4. The grateful acknowledgments he made to Elisha hereupon,
2 Kings 5:15-19.
II. The smiting of Gehazi, his own servant, with that leprosy.
1. Gehazi's sins, which were belying his master to Naaman
(2 Kings 5:20-24),
and lying to his master when he examined him,
2 Kings 5:25.
2. His punishment for these sins. Naaman's leprosy was entailed on
2 Kings 5:26,27.
And, if Naaman's cure was typical of the calling of the Gentiles, as
our Saviour seems to make it
Gehazi's stroke may be looked upon as typical of the blinding and
rejecting of the Jews, who envied God's grace to the Gentiles, as
Gehazi envied Elisha's favour to Naaman.
||B. C. 894.|
1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a
great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the
LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man
in valour, but he was a leper.
2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought
away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she
waited on Naaman's wife.
3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with
the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his
4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus
said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a
letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with
him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and
ten changes of raiment.
6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now
when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith
sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of
7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the
letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill
and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a
man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how
he seeketh a quarrel against me.
8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that
the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the
king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come
now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
Our saviour's miracles were intended for the lost sheep of the house of
Israel, yet one, like a crumb, fell from the table to a woman of
Canaan; so this one miracle Elisha wrought for Naaman, a Syrian; for
God does good to all, and will have all men to be saved. Here is,
I. The great affliction Naaman was under, in the midst of all his
2 Kings 5:1.
He was a great man, in a great place; not only rich and raised, but
particularly happy for two things:--
1. That he had been very serviceable to his country. God made him so:
By him the Lord had often given deliverance to Syria,
success in their wars even with Israel. The preservation and prosperity
even of those that do not know God and serve him must be ascribed to
him, for he is the Saviour of all men, but especially of
those that believe. Let Israel know that when the Syrians prevailed
it was from the Lord.
2. That he was very acceptable to his prince, was his favourite, and
prime-minister of state; so great was he, so high, so honourable, and a
mighty man of valour; but he was a leper, was under that loathsome
disease, which made him a burden to himself. Note,
(1.) No man's greatness, or honour, or interest, or valour, or victory,
can set him out of the reach of the sorest calamities of human life;
there is many a sickly crazy body under rich and gay clothing.
(2.) Every man has some but or other in his character, something
that blemishes and diminishes him, some allay to his grandeur, some
damp to his joy; he may be very happy, very good, yet, in something or
other, not so good as he should be nor so happy as he would be. Naaman
was a great as the world could make him, and yet (as bishop Hall
expresses it) the basest slave in Syria would not change skins with
II. The notice that was given him of Elisha's power, by a little maid
that waited on his lady,
2 Kings 5:2,3.
This maid was, by birth, an Israelite, providentially carried captive
into Syria, and there preferred into Naaman's family, where she
published Elisha's fame to the honour of Israel and Israel's God. The
unhappy dispersing of the people of God has sometimes proved the happy
occasion of the diffusion of the knowledge of God,
This little maid,
1. As became a true-born Israelite, consulted the honour of her
country, and could give an account, though but a girl, of the famous
prophet they had among them. Children should betimes acquaint
themselves with the wondrous works of God, that, wherever they go, they
may have them to talk of. See
2. As became a good servant, she desired the health and welfare of her
master, though she was a captive, a servant by force; much more should
servants of choice seek their masters' good. The Jews in Babylon were
to seek the peace of the land of their captivity.
Elisha had not cleansed any leper in Israel
yet this little maid, from the other miracles he had wrought, inferred
that he could cure her master, and from his common beneficence
inferred that he would do it, though he was a Syrian. Servants
may be blessings to the families where they are, by telling what they
know of the glory of God and the honour of his prophets.
III. The application which the king of Syria hereupon made to the king
of Israel on Naaman's behalf. Naaman took notice of the intelligence,
though given by a simple maid, and did not despise it for the sake of
her meanness, when it tended to his bodily health. He did not say, "The
girl talks like a fool; how can any prophet of Israel do that for me
which all the physicians of Syria have attempted in vain?" Though he
neither loved nor honoured the Jewish nation, yet, if one of that
nation can but cure him of his leprosy, he will thankfully acknowledge
the obligation. O that those who are spiritually diseased would hearken
thus readily to the tidings brought them of the great Physician! See
what Naaman did upon this little hint.
1. He would not send for the prophet to come to him, but such honour
would he pay to one that had so much of a divine power with him as to
be able to cure diseases that he would go to him himself, though he
himself was sickly, unfit for society, the journey long, and the
country an enemy's; princes, he thinks, must stoop to prophets when
they need them.
2. He would not go incognito--in disguise, though his errand
proclaimed his loathsome disease, but went in state, and with a great
retinue, to do the more honour to the prophet.
3. He would not go empty-handed, but took with him gold, silver, and
raiment, to present to his physician. Those that have wealth, and want
health show which they reckon the more valuable blessing; what will
they not give for ease, and strength, and soundness of body?
4. He would not go without a letter to the king of Israel from the king
his master, who did himself earnestly desire his recovery. He knows not
where in Samaria to find this wonder-working prophet, but takes it for
granted the king knows where to find him; and, to engage the prophet to
do his utmost for Naaman, he will go to him supported with the interest
of two kings. If the king of Syria must entreat his help, he hopes the
king of Israel, being his liege-lord, may command it. The gifts of the
subject must all be (he thinks) for the service and honour of the
prince, and therefore he desires the king that he would recover the
(2 Kings 5:6),
taking it for granted that there was a greater intimacy between the
king and the prophet than really there was.
IV. The alarm this gave to the king of Israel,
2 Kings 5:7.
He apprehended there was in this letter,
1. A great affront upon God, and therefore he rent his clothes,
according to the custom of the Jews when they heard or read that which
they thought blasphemous; and what less could it be than to attribute
to him a divine power? "Am I a God, to kill whom I will, and
make alive whom I will? No, I pretend not to such an authority."
Nebuchadnezzar did, as we find,
"Am I a God, to kill with a word, and make alive with a
word? No, I pretend not to such a power;" thus this great man, this bad
man, is made to own that he is but a man. Why did he not, with this
consideration, correct himself for his idolatry, and reason
thus:--Shall I worship those as gods that can neither kill nor make
alive, can do neither good nor evil?
2. A bad design upon himself. He appeals to those about him for this:
"See how he seeketh a quarrel against me; he requires me to
recover the leper, and if I do not, though I cannot, he will make that
a pretence to wage war with me," which he suspects the rather because
Naaman is his general. Had he rightly understood the meaning of the
letter, that when the king wrote to him to recover the leper he meant
that he would take care he might be recovered, he would not have been
in this fright. Note, We often create a great deal of uneasiness to
ourselves by misinterpreting the words and actions of others that are
well intended: it is charity to ourselves to think no evil. If he had
bethought himself of Elisha, and his power, he would easily have
understood the letter, and have known what he had to do; but he is put
into this confusion by making himself a stranger to the prophet: the
captive maid had him more in her thoughts than the king had.
V. The proffer which Elisha made of his services. He was willing to do
any thing to make his prince easy, though he was neglected and his
former good services were forgotten by him. Hearing on which occasion
the king had rent his clothes, he sent to him to let him know that if
his patient would come to him he should not lose his labour
(2 Kings 5:8):
He shall know that there is a prophet in Israel (and it were sad
with Israel if there were not), that there is a prophet in Israel who
can do that which the king of Israel dares not attempt, which the
prophets of Syria cannot pretend to. It was not for his own honour, but
for the honour of God, that he coveted to make them all know that
there was a prophet in Israel, though obscure and overlooked.
|The Cure of Naaman's Leprosy.
||B. C. 894.|
9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and
stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in
Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and
thou shalt be clean.
11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I
thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on
the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place,
and recover the leper.
12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than
all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean?
So he turned and went away in a rage.
13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My
father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing,
wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he
saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan,
according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came
again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
We have here the cure of Naaman's leprosy.
I. The short and plain direction which the prophet gave him, with
assurance of success. Naaman designed to do honour to Elisha when he
came in his chariot, and with all his retinue, to Elisha's door,
2 Kings 5:9.
Those that showed little respect to prophets at other times were very
complaisant to them when they needed them. He attended at Elisha's door
as a beggar for an alms. Those that would be cleansed from the
spiritual leprosy must wait at Wisdom's gate, and watch at the posts
of her doors. Naaman expected to have his compliment returned, but
Elisha gave him his answer without any formality, would not go to the
door to him, lest he should seem too much pleased with the honour done
him, but sent a messenger to him, saying, Go wash in Jordan seven
times, and promising him that if he did so his disease should be
cured. The promise was express: Thou shalt be clean. The method
prescribed was plain: Go wash in Jordan. This was not intended
as any means of the cure; for, though cold bathing is recommended by
many as a very wholesome thing, yet some think that in the case of a
leprosy it was rather hurtful. But it was intended as a sign of the
cure, and a trial of his obedience. Those that will be helped of God
must do as they are bidden. But why did Elisha send a messenger to him
with these directions?
1. Because he had retired, at this time, for devotion, was intent upon
his prayers for the cure, and would not be diverted; or,
2. Because he knew Naaman to be a proud man, and he would let him know
that before the great God all men stand upon the same level.
II. Naaman's disgust at the method prescribed, because it was not what
he expected. Two things disgusted him:--
1. That Elisha, as he thought, put a slight upon his person, in sending
him orders by a servant, and not coming to him himself,
2 Kings 5:11.
Being big with the expectation of a cure, he had been fancying how this
cure would be wrought, and the scheme he had laid was this: "He will
surely come out to me, that is the least he can do to me, a peer of
Syria, to me that have come to him in all this state, to me that have
so often been victorious over Israel. He will stand, and call
on the name of his God, and name me in his prayer, and then he will
wave his hand over the place, and so effect the cure." And,
because the thing was not done just thus, he fell into a passion,
(1.) That he was a leper, and the law of Moses, which Elisha would
religiously observe, shut lepers out from society--a leper, and
therefore he ought not to insist upon the punctilios of honor. Note,
Many have hearts unhumbled under humbling providences; see
(2.) That he was a petitioner, suing for a favour which he could not
demand; and beggars must not be choosers, patients must not prescribe
to their physicians. See in Naaman the folly of pride. A cure will not
content him unless he be cured with ceremony, with a great deal of pomp
and parade; he scorns to be healed, unless he be humoured.
2. That Elisha, as he thought, put a slight upon his country. He took
it hard that he must be sent to wash in Jordan, a river of Israel, when
he thought Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all
the waters of Israel. How magnificently does he speak of these two
rivers that watered Damascus, which soon after fell into one, called by
geographers Chrysoroas--the golden stream! How scornfully does he
speak of all the waters of Israel, though God had called the land of
Israel the glory of all lands, and particularly for its
brooks of water!
So common it is for God and man to differ in their judgments. How
slightly does he speak of the prophet's directions! May I not wash
in them and be clean? He might wash in them and be clean from dirt,
but not wash in them and be clean from leprosy. He was angry that the
prophet bade him wash and be clean; he thought that the prophet must do
all and was not pleased that he was bidden to do any thing,--or he
thought this too cheap, too plain, too common a thing for so great a
man to be cured by,--or he did not believe it would at all effect the
cure, or, if it would, what medicinal virtue was there in Jordan more
than in the rivers of Damascus? But he did not consider,
(1.) That Jordan belonged to Israel's God, from whom he was to expect
the cure, and not from the gods of Damascus; it watered the Lord's
land, the holy land, and, in a miraculous cure, relation to God was
much more considerable than the depth of the channel or the beauty of
(2.) That Jordan had more than once before this obeyed the commands of
omnipotence. It had of old yielded a passage to Israel, and of late to
Elijah and Elisha, and therefore was fitter for such a purpose than
those rivers which had only observed the common law of their creation,
and had never been thus distinguished; but, above all,
(3.) Jordan was the river appointed, and, if he expected a cure from
the divine power, he ought to acquiesce in the divine will, without
asking why or wherefore. Note, It is common for those that are wise in
their own conceit to look with contempt on the dictates and
prescriptions of divine wisdom and to prefer their own fancies before
them; those that are for establishing their own righteousness
will not submit to the righteousness of God,
Naaman talked himself into such a heat (as passionate men usually do)
that he turned away from the prophet's door in a rage, ready to swear
he would never have any thing more to say to Elisha; and who then would
be the loser? Note, Those that observe lying vanities forsake their
Proud men are the worst enemies to themselves and forego their own
III. The modest advice which his servants gave him, to observe the
prophet's prescriptions, with a tacit reproof of his resentments,
2 Kings 5:13.
Though at other times they kept their distance, and now saw him in a
passion, yet, knowing him to be a man that would hear reason at any
time, and from any body (a good character of great men, and a very rare
one), they drew near, and made bold to argue the matter a little with
him. They had conceived a great opinion of the prophet (having,
perhaps, heard more of him from the common people, whom they had
conversed with, than Naaman had heard from the king and courtiers, whom
he had conversed with), and therefore begged of him to consider: "If
the prophet had bidden thee to do some great thing, had ordered
thee into a tedious course of physic, or to submit to some painful
operation, blistering, or cupping, or salivating, Wouldst thou not
have done it? No doubt thou wouldst. And wilt thou not submit to so
easy a method as this, Wash and be clean?" Observe,
1. His own servants gave him this reproof and counsel, which was no
more disparagement to him than that he had intelligence of one that
could cure him from his wife's maid,
2 Kings 5:3.
Note, It is a great mercy to have those about us that will be free with
us, and faithfully tell us of our faults and follies, though they be
our inferiors. Masters must be willing to hear reason from their
As we should be deaf to the counsel of the ungodly, though given by the
greatest and most venerable names, so we should have our ear open to
good advice, though brought us by those who are much below us: no
matter who speaks, if the thing be well said.
2. The reproof was very modest and respectful. They call him
Father; for servants must honour and obey their masters with a
kind of filial affection. In giving reproof or counsel we must make it
appear that it comes from love and true honour, and that we intend, not
reproach, but reformation.
3. It was very rational and considerate. If the rude and unthinking
servants had stirred up their master's angry resentment, and offered to
avenge his quarrel upon the prophet, who (he thought) affronted him,
how mischievous would the consequences have been! Fire from heaven,
probably, upon them all! But they, to our great surprise, took the
prophet's part. Elisha, though it is likely he perceived that what he
had said had put Naaman out of humour, did not care to pacify him: it
was at his peril if he persisted in his wrath. But his servants were
made use of by Providence to reduce him to temper. They reasoned with
(1.) From his earnest desire of a cure: Wouldst thou not do any
thing? Note, When diseased sinners come to this, that they are content
to do any thing, to submit to any thing, to part with any thing, for a
cure, then, and not till then, there begin to be some hopes of them.
Then they will take Christ on his own terms when they are made willing
to have Christ upon any terms.
(2.) From the easiness of the method prescribed: "It is but, Wash
and be clean. It is but trying; the experiment is cheap and easy,
it can do no hurt, but may do good." Note, the methods prescribed for
the healing of the leprosy of sin are so plain that we are utterly
inexcusable if we do not observe them. It is but, "Believe, and be
saved"--"Repent, and be pardoned"--"Wash, and be clean."
IV. The cure effected, in the use of the means prescribed,
2 Kings 5:14.
Naaman, upon second thoughts, yielded to make the experiment, yet, it
should seem, with no great faith and resolution; for, whereas the
prophet bade him wash in Jordan seven times, he did but dip himself so
many times, as lightly as he could. However God was pleased so far to
honour himself and his word as to make that effectual. His flesh
came again, like the flesh of a child. to his great surprise and
joy. This men get by yielding to the will of God, by attending to his
institutions. His being cleansed by washing put an honour on the law
for cleansing lepers. God will magnify his word above all his name.
15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company,
and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know
that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now
therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
16 But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I
will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given
to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will
henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other
gods, but unto the LORD.
18 In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my
master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he
leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when
I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy
servant in this thing.
19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a
Of the ten lepers that our Saviour cleansed, the only one that
returned to give thanks was a Samaritan,
This Syrian did so, and here expresses himself.
I. Convinced of the power of the God of Israel, not only that he is
God, but that he is God alone, and that indeed there is no God in
all the earth but in Israel
(2 Kings 5:15)--
a noble confession, but such as intimates the misery of the Gentile
world; for the nations that had many gods really had no God, but were
without God in the world. He had formerly thought the gods of Syria
gods indeed, but now experience had rectified his mistake, and he knew
Israel's God was God alone, the sovereign Lord of all. Had he seen
other lepers cleansed, perhaps the sight would not have convinced him,
but the mercy of the cure affected him more than the miracle of it.
Those are best able to speak of the power of divine grace who have
themselves experienced it.
II. Grateful to Elisha the prophet: "Therefore, for his sake whose
servant thou art, I have a present for thee, silver, and gold, and
raiment, whatever thou wilt please to accept." He valued the cure, not
by the easiness of it to the prophet, but the acceptableness of it to
himself, and would gladly pay for it accordingly. But Elisha generously
refused the fee, though urged to accept it; and, to prevent further
importunity, backed his refusal with an oath: As the Lord liveth, I
will receive none
(2 Kings 5:16),
not because he did not need it, for he was poor enough, and knew what
to do with it, and how to bestow it among the sons of the prophets, nor
because he thought it unlawful, for he received presents from others;
but he would not be beholden to this Syrian, nor should he say,
I have made Elisha rich,
It would be much for the honour of God to show this new convert that
the servants of the God of Israel were taught to look upon the wealth
of this world with a holy contempt, which would confirm him in his
belief that there was no God but in Israel. See
1 Corinthians 9:18,2Co+11:9.
III. Proselyted to the worship of the God of Israel. He will not only
offer a sacrifice to the Lord, in thanks for his present cure, but he
resolves he will never offer sacrifice to any other gods,
2 Kings 5:17.
It was a happy cure of his leprosy which cured him of his idolatry, a
more dangerous disease. But here are two instances of his weakness and
infirmity in his conversion:--
1. In one instance he over-did it, that he would not only worship the
God of Israel, but he would have clods of earth out of the prophet's
garden, or at least of the prophet's ordering, to make an altar
2 Kings 5:17.
He that awhile ago had spoken very slightly of the waters of Israel
(2 Kings 5:12)
now is in another extreme, and over-values the earth of Israel,
supposing (since God has appointed altars of earth,
that an altar of that earth would be most acceptable to him, not
considering that all the earth is the Lord's and the fulness
thereof. Or perhaps the transport of his affection and veneration
for the prophet, not only upon the account of his power, but of his
virtue and generosity, made him, as we say, love the very ground he
went upon and desire to have some of it home with him. The modern
compliment equivalent to this would be, "Pray, sir, let me have your
2. In another instance he under-did it, that he reserved to himself a
liberty to bow in the house of Rimmon, in complaisance to the king his
master, and according to the duty of his place at court
(2 Kings 5:18),
in this thing he must be excused. He owns he ought not to do it,
but that he cannot otherwise not do it, but that he cannot otherwise
keep his place,--protests that his bowing is not, nor ever shall be, as
it had been, in honour to the idol, but only in honour to the
king,--and therefore he hopes God will forgive him. Perhaps, all things
considered, this might admit of some apology, though it was not
justifiable. But, as to us, I am sure,
(1.) If, in covenanting with God, we make a reservation for any known
sin, which we will continue to indulge ourselves in, that reservation
is a defeasance of his covenant. We must cast away all our
transgressions and not except any house of Rimmon.
(2.) Though we are encouraged to pray for the remission of the sins we
have committed, yet, if we ask for a dispensation to go on in any sin
for the future, we mock God, and deceive ourselves.
(3.) Those that know not how to quit a place at court when they cannot
keep it without sinning against God, and wronging their consciences, do
not rightly value the divine favour.
(4.) Those that truly hate evil will make conscience of abstaining from
all appearances of evil. Though Naaman's dissembling his religion
cannot be approved, yet because his promise to offer no sacrifice to
any god but the God of Israel only was a great point gained with a
Syrian, and because, by asking pardon in this matter, he showed such a
degree of conviction and ingenuousness as gave hopes of improvement,
the prophet took fair leave of him, and bade him Go in peace,
2 Kings 5:19.
Young converts must be tenderly dealt with.
||B. C. 894.|
20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said,
Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not
receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD
liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him
running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him,
and said, Is all well?
22 And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying,
Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young
men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent
of silver, and two changes of garments.
23 And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged
him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two
changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants;
and they bare them before him.
24 And when he came to the tower, he took them from their
hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go,
and they departed.
25 But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said
unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant
went no whither.
26 And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when
the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a
time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards,
and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and
27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and
unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper
as white as snow.
Naaman, a Syrian, a courtier, a soldier, had many servants, and we read
how wise and good they were,
2 Kings 5:13.
Elisha, a holy prophet, a man of God, has but one servant, and he
proves a base, lying, naughty fellow. Those that heard of Elisha at a
distance honoured him, and got good by what they heard; but he that
stood continually before him, to hear his wisdom, had no good
impressions made upon him either by his doctrine or miracles. One would
have expected that Elisha's servant should be a saint (even Ahab's
servant, Obadiah, was), but even Christ himself had a Judas among his
followers. The means of grace cannot give grace. The best men, the best
ministers have often had those about them that have been their grief
and shame. The nearer the church the further from God. Many come
from the east and west to sit down with Abraham when the children of
the kingdom shall be cast out. Here is,
I. Gehazi's sin. It was a complicated sin.
1. The love of money, that root of all evil, was at the bottom of it.
His master contemned Naaman's treasures, but he coveted them,
2 Kings 5:20.
His heart (says bishop Hall) was packed up in Naaman's chests, and he
must run after him to fetch it. Multitudes, by coveting worldly wealth,
have erred from the faith and pierced themselves with many
2. He blamed his master for refusing Naaman's present, condemned him as
foolish in not taking gold when he might have it, envied and grudged
his kindness and generosity to this stranger, though it was for the
good of his soul. In short, he thought himself wiser than his master.
3. When Naaman, like a person of accomplished manners, alighted from
his chariot to meet him
(2 Kings 5:21),
he told him a deliberate lie, that his master sent him to him, and so
he received that courtesy to himself that Naaman intended to his
4. He abused his master, and basely misrepresented him to Naaman as one
that had soon repented of his generosity, that was fickle, and did not
know his own mind, that would say and unsay, swear and unswear, that
would not do an honourable thing but he must presently undo it again.
his story of the two sons of the prophets was as silly as it was false;
if he would have begged a token for two young scholars, surely less
than a talent of silver might serve them.
5. There was danger of his alienating Naaman from that holy religion
which he had espoused, and lessening his good opinion of it. he would
be ready to say, as Paul's enemies suggested concerning him
(2 Corinthians 12:16,17),
that, though Elisha himself did not burden him, yet being crafty he
caught him with guile, sending those that made a gain of him. We hope
that he understood afterwards that Elisha's hand was not in it, and
that Gehazi was forced to restore what he had unjustly got, else it
might have driven him to his idols again.
6. His seeking to conceal what he had unjustly got added much to his
(1.) He hid it, as Achan did his gain, by sacrilege, in the tower, a
secret place, a strong place, till he should have an opportunity of
laying it out,
2 Kings 5:24.
Now he thought himself sure of it, and applauded his own management of
a fraud by which he had imposed, not only upon the prudence of Naaman,
but upon Elisha's spirit of discerning, as Ananias and Sapphira upon
(2.) He denied it: He went in, and stood before his master,
ready to receive his orders. None looked more observant of his master,
though really none more injurious to him; he thought, as Ephraim, I
have become rich, but they shall find no iniquity in me,
His master asked him where he had been, "Nowhere, sir" (said he), "out
of the house." Note, One lie commonly begets another: the way of that
sin is down-hill; therefore dare to be true.
II. The punishment of this sin. Elisha immediately called him to an
account for it; and observe,
1. How he was convicted. He thought to impose upon the prophet, but was
soon given to understand that the Spirit of prophecy could not be
deceived, and that it was in vain to lie to the Holy Ghost. Elisha
could tell him,
(1.) What he had done, though he had denied it. "Thou sayest thou
wentest nowhere, but went not my heart with thee?"
2 Kings 5:26.
Had Gehazi yet to learn that prophets had spiritual eyes? or could he
think to hide any thing from a seer, from him with whom the secret of
the Lord was? Note, It is folly to presume upon sin in hopes of
secresy. When thou goest aside into any by-path does not thy own
conscience go with thee? Does not the eye of God go with thee? He
that covers his sin shall not prosper, particularly a lying
tongue is but for a moment,
Truth will transpire, and often comes to light strangely, to the
confusion of those that make lies their refuge.
(2.) What he designed, though he kept that in his own breast. He could
tell him the very thoughts and intents of his heart, that he was
projecting, now that he had got these two talents, to purchase ground
and cattle, to leave Elisha's service, and to set up for himself. Note,
All the foolish hopes and contrivances of carnal worldlings are open
before God. And he tells him also the evil of it: "Is it a time to
receive money? Is this an opportunity of enriching thyself? Couldst
thou find no better way of getting money than by belying thy master and
laying a stumbling-block before a young convert?" Note, Those that are
for getting wealth at any time, and by any ways and means whatsoever,
right or wrong, lay themselves open to a great deal of temptation.
Those that will be rich (per fas, per nefas; rem, rem, quocunque
modo rem--by fair means, by foul means; careless of principle, intent
only on money) drown themselves in destruction and perdition,
1 Timothy 6:9.
War, and fire, and plague, and shipwreck, are not, as many make them,
things to get money by. It is not a time to increase our wealth when we
cannot do it but in such ways as are dishonourable to God and religion
or injurious to our brethren or the public.
2. How he was punished for it: The leprosy of Naaman shall cleave to
2 Kings 5:27.
If he will have his money, he shall take his disease with it,
Transit cum onere--It passes with this incumbrance. He was
contriving to entail lands upon his posterity; but, instead of them, he
entails a loathsome disease on the heirs of his body, from generation
to generation. The sentence was immediately executed on himself; no
sooner said than done: He went out from his presence a leper as
white as snow. Thus he is stigmatized and made infamous, and
carries the mark of his shame wherever he goes: thus he loads himself
and family with a curse, which shall not only for the present proclaim
his villany, but for ever perpetuate the remembrance of it. Note,
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and
fro of those that seek death,
Those who get wealth by fraud and injustice cannot expect either the
comfort or the continuance of it. What was Gehazi profited, though he
gained his two talents, when thereby he lost his health, his honour,
his peace, his service, and, if repentance prevented not, his soul for