Sometimes you can be unforgettable and yet remain nameless.
[Jesus] said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” –Luke 4:24-27
In Elijah’s time, there was the widow of Zarephath. In Elisha’s time, there was Naaman the Syrian. Neither was a Jew. We don’t know the name of the widow, and we don’t know the name of the servant girl who introduced Naaman to Elisha, prophet of the One True God.
When Joram was the king of Israel (around 850bc), the Arameans occupied an area to the north of Israel. These two kingdoms often battled over trade routes and territory. The commander of the Aramean army was Naaman, and somewhere along the way, Naaman developed a nasty case of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1).
Definition: “Leprosy” was an umbrella term for many types of skin disease, up to and including Hansen’s disease (the wasting disease we usually associate with leprosy). Maybe Naaman had skin cancer from too much time in the sun without sunscreen.
Even with an official peace treaty between Israel and Aram, there were small raiding parties—probably on both sides, though the text only tells us about the Aramean raids. In one of these forays, a band of raiders captured “a young girl from Israel” who became Naaman’s wife’s slave (2 Kings 5:2).
That’s all we know about her. Or is it?
Take a minute to put yourself
in this girl’s shoes, if she
was wearing any.
Take a minute to put yourself in this girl’s shoes, if she had any. She was probably barefooted.
Compassionate, Not Bitter
As she watched Naaman suffer with leprosy day after day, she felt compassion toward him. Instead of being bitter about her captivity, she wanted good for the family she served. And she was willing to take some risks to help him heal.
When we find ourselves in difficult or stressful circumstances, it’s easy to become bitter…to resent the situation and the people in charge. By God’s grace, we can learn to serve and pray for good as we persevere.
Bold, not Bashful
This servant girl was bold. She was young and new to the household—the “low man on the totem pole,” so to speak. Plus, she worked for Naaman’s wife, not Naaman. It would have been easy to put her head down, do her work, and stay out of a problem that was clearly none of her business. But instead, she gathered her nerve and offered a solution.
I find it easy to justify my silence in awkward situation, but sometimes God wants us to speak up. **Book Recommendation: The Art of Hard Conversations, by Lori Stanley Roeleveld**
Faithful, not Fearful
She may not have known his
name, but she was confident
Elisha could heal Naaman.
This young slave’s solution was not what anyone would have expected. She knew about a prophet of God who did amazing things like raise a guy from the dead (2 Kings 4:8-37) and take the poison out of soup (2 Kings 4:38-41). She knew he did it by the power of God, and even though she doesn’t seem to have known Elisha’s name, she was confident Elisha could heal Naaman even though Naaman wasn’t Jewish. She said,
If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy. -2 Kings 5:3
What would have happened to the servant girl if Elisha didn’t heal Naaman? I imagine she would have been executed for bringing shame to Naaman and his nation.
Maybe her voice was shaking as she spoke to Naaman’s wife.
Maybe it took her three weeks to work up the nerve to say something.
Maybe she watched for an opportune moment when her words would be well received.
But she did it! She didn’t let fear win. Why? Because she already knew what Naaman would soon learn:
There is no God in all the world except in Israel. –2 Kings 5:15
Naaman’s story of resistance to God’s will and ultimate healing is fantastic. You’ll be challenged if you take time to read for yourself in 2 Kings 5:4-27. Naaman, however, isn’t our subject today. We have plenty to learn from a little servant girl who didn’t even get her name in the Bible.
Are you challenged by this slave girl, as I am? In what way? I’d appreciate it if you let us know in the comments below!