Obedience and Disobedience

Read Time: 12 minutes

All of our lives we struggle with obedience. The obvious part is when we are children and we must be obedient to our parents and society. Right or wrong, whether we want to or not we are required to be obedient to men's desires. As we grow up and get out on our own there are company rules, social rules, country rules, rules of the road and more to adhere to. We generally follow along because these rules are for the best (usually); at least that was the intention. When a child is brought up being obedient he/she has an easier time at being obedient to God's Word. The disobedient child is trouble and has trouble in life. When we are obedient to God we have power for abundant living. When we are disobedient we ask for trouble. Naaman and Gehazi are two great examples of obedience and disobedience.

II Kings 5
: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.

Syria had been raiding Israel taking people and plunder back to Syria. Because Israel's rejection of God's Word they brought this upon themselves. Naaman was having success because Israel was not believing God for their protection. See the Idiom of Permission in the Appendix.

: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 leprosy.

This maid would only state this if God told her to say so. Not all lepers were healed. God knew Naaman would believe and be healed so He told the maid to make that declaration unto her mistress; the wife of Naaman.

:4 And one [Naaman's wife] 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, [make haste and 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.
        [over a half million dollars today*]
: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 his leprosy.
                [political protocol here - going to the King of Israel]
: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.

This is probably Jehoram King of Israel and he wasn't even thinking about God being with Elisha and what the power of God could do. The King is responsible for his people and if you want something of the nation's people you ask the king. But Jehoram viewed this as a taunt from the King Syria.

: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.

OK, how did Elisha hear that the King was so mad that he tore is garment? It wasn't on the national news. There was no radio broadcasting the daily happenings at the palace and Elisha didn't live in Samaria where the King's palace was. God must have told him.

Look how God has set this up. God tells the maid to tell the mistress and then He tells Elisha to go talk to the King.

: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.

This is what Naaman was expecting. This is what the false prophets in Syria were doing. This is the accepted behavior. This is what Naaman was used to being obedient to.

:12   Are not Abana and Pharpar,
            rivers of Damascus,
        better than all the waters of Israel? [Jordan is muddy most of the time]
        may I not wash in them, and be clean?
    So he turned and went away in a rage.

He is having a great deal of trouble being obedient to the Word of God especially since it was delivered to him by a servant and not the Man of God himself. But this is what God told Elisha to do. Naaman will receive the healing when he humbles himself and believes.

: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?

OK, well, you have a point there. Do what the Man of God said and be healed.

: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.

Naaman wasn't healed on the first dip, or the second, or the sixth. He was healed after he was totally obedient to God's instructions.

: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 [Elisha] said,
        As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand,
        I will receive none.
    And he [Naaman] 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.

Naaman requests that Elisha at least take two mules as an offering unto God. The previous offer was with the mentality of paying for services. God's blessings and gifts do not require recompense. God gives freely to those that believe.

So Naaman is in a quandary for his master worships Rimmon a false God and Naaman has to go into Rimmon's temple with his master. Naaman knows the only God is the God of Israel but he must be in this idol's temple also. So Naaman asks for a pardon.

: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 [Elisha] said unto him,
        Go in peace.
    So he departed from him a little way.

    According to E.W. Bullinger regarding these two verses:

. . .God's servants are not "directors of conscience", but ministers of His Word. To have sanctioned it would have recognized idolatry. To have forbidden it would have put Naaman under a yoke to Elisha. It was for Naaman to decide whether he could do this thing, and be at "peace."

Naaman received the benefit of healing from God because he was obedient to Him. He must have been a great man in Syria for his king to send a half million dollars worth of treasure with him. Yet for all his prominence and stature he humbled himself to do the simple task of dipping himself seven times in the river Jordan.

Now for an unfortunate example of disobedience. Gehazi had been with Elisha for a long time and has seen many miracles that Elisha did. Why Gehazi was swayed by riches is perplexing , yet it happened and still happens today.

: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 [Gehazi] 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.

Gehazi has been deceived. He thought he could get away with this deception but God knew what he was doing. Gehazi willing acted against the instructions of Elisha. He transgressed the Word of God by going after the treasure. His decision changed his life forever.

: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. [one lie begets more lies]
: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 maidservants?
                [How did Elisha know? God must have told him]
: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.

I am sure this saddened Elisha to see his longtime trusted servant be enticed away from doing God's will by money. The same happens to us and there are consequences. When we walk away from the Word of God we also walk away from the promises of God. He says He will take care of us. We must trust in Him and quit trying to do it ourselves. I am not saying don't work and stop doing things but when problems arise it is not up to us to figure out how to fix them, it is up to God. So we pray, listen and be obedient. He will direct our paths if we let Him.

* Silver & Gold estimates (August 2003)
Talent of silver = 117 pounds Troy (Bullinger)
1 pound Troy = 12 Troy ounces
Current price = $5/Troy ounce = $70,200
Talent of Gold = 131 pounds Troy (Bullinger)
1 pound Troy = 12 Troy ounces
Current price = $365/Troy ounce = $573,780

Changes of Raiment value is unknown. They didn't have many usually and what you would receive from king would be exquisite.

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