The Little Maid From Israel, a Leper, and a Miracle

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  • a young captive
  • a brave and helpful servant
  • a girl who remembered the power of the God of Israel

KEY VERSE

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.—Psalm 37:5

PROLOGUE

Things were definitely not good in Israel. For one thing, rulers insisted on worshipping a false god—Baal. God sent prophets, among them Elijah and Elisha, to manifest His power and give the nation a chance to correct its ways, but Israel was stubborn. The nation refused to wholeheartedly stop worshipping other gods instead of the true God. To make matters worse, Israel had to deal with a Moabite rebellion against heavy taxation after King Ahab died. And now more recently, Ben-Hadad II, King of Syria, was causing trouble from the north.

The Syrians had been a problem since the time of King David, periodically sweeping in, looting, pillaging and taking captives. During one such raid, the Syrians seized a young girl—perhaps not even in her teens—to become a slave in the house of the mighty and honorable Naaman, field marshal for his powerful Syrian king.

STORY AND STUDY

(This story is found in 2 Kings 5:1-14.)

Her eyes must have been wide with terror the day she saw the fierce robber bands swoop in on horses, shouting words she could not understand, bringing destruction. The screams of alarm echoed in her ears as friends and neighbors fled before the menacing marauders. Possibly she was running to hide when a rough arm scooped her off her feet and onto a galloping horse, its rider’s grip hard as iron as she struggled to be free. She’d be a prize fit for Naaman’s household.

When the young captive was presented to Naaman and his wife, she noticed something shocking about her new master. He was a leper!

Troubling changes

As her captors headed toward Damascus, her young life was forever changed. Gone were the ways with which she was familiar. Ahead were all things foreign: land, gods, customs, language.

When the young captive was presented to Naaman and his wife, she noticed something shocking about her new master. He was a leper! Such a person would have been banned from her village, and now she was expected to minister in his house. So many troubling changes for one so young!

Pause for thought: Have you ever had to move to a different city or state, or even change schools? What were some of the challenges you faced? What changes do you think the young girl faced?

Remembering

The Bible doesn’t indicate how long she served Naaman’s wife before gaining her trust or when the little maid had the courage to approach her mistress with a possible solution for Naaman’s awful affliction.

Though far from home and in a foreign land, the young maid had not forgotten the works Israel’s God had performed through His prophets. Perhaps she had only heard of these wonders when she went to the village well to draw water with her mother or when her family talked of the happenings of each day before drifting off to sleep.

Or could it be that her father had been one of the 7000 who refused to bend their knees to Baal? And that she had witnessed firsthand the courage it took to defy the wicked Jezebel? (This exciting account is found in 1 Kings 18.)

“If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.”

The Bible doesn’t say, but somehow she knew and believed there was one who could help, and a day came when she had the boldness to speak up: “Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy’” (2 Kings 5:3).

​Pause for thought: What do you suppose gave her the courage to speak up? Have you ever been able to offer a suggestion to someone older and it was accepted?

“Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.”

Not only did her mistress listen, but Naaman did too. He took the matter directly to his king, who in turn wrote a startling letter to Jehoram, the King of Israel: “Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy” (verse 6).

Naaman left soon afterwards on his journey to Israel, taking the royal letter along with 10 talents of silver, 6000 shekels of gold, and 10 changes of clothing—suitable gifts to honor a king.

Naaman meets Elisha

When King Jehoram read Ben Hadad’s letter, he tore his clothes and cried, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?” (verse 7). Only God could heal Naaman!

“Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.”

When Elisha heard of the king’s displeasure, he offered a solution: “Let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (verse 8).

When Naaman arrived in his chariot at Elisha’s house, the prophet was waiting with instructions: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean” (verse 10). But instead of being hopeful and willing, the leper was furious! He rejected the very idea that the prophet would not heal him immediately. And he certainly did not intend to wash himself in some river. Weren’t the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel? The commander left Elisha in a fit of anger.

Pause for thought: Why do you suppose Naaman was so angry? How would you describe his heart or attitude?

Later his servants reasoned with him: “If the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?” (verse 13).

“Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”

In time their efforts paid off and Naaman agreed to follow the prophet’s instruction: “So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (verse 14). Syria’s mighty man of valor had just experienced the unequaled power of Israel’s God.

When Naaman next appeared before Elisha, he made an amazing statement: “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel” (verse 15).

Her example still serves to inspire, even to this day. There are no age limits for faith!

Conclusion

Because of a young girl’s faith and courage, a man of great influence changed. Scripture says no more about her, but her example still serves to inspire, even to this day. There are no age limits for faith!

QUESTIONS

1. Knowledge

Who was the commander who was a leper?

How many times did the leper dip in the river?

Who trusted God?

2. Comprehension

What were some of the challenges the young girl faced in her life as a captive? Could they have made her fearful?

Could you say that Naaman had a change of heart? If so, how do you know?

Can you think of other young people in the Bible who showed courage and had faith?

3. Connections

What did the young girl do that showed she was brave and had faith?

Can you think of other young people in the Bible who showed courage and had faith? Share their stories. Do you know where their stories are found in the Bible?

DISCUSSIONS

When you go into a new place, how do you feel: brave or fearful? Write five words to describe how you feel.

Can you give an example of a situation when you were courageous? What did you do? Describe all your feelings.

What do you suppose was the source of the young girl’s courage and faith? Discuss how you can have courage and faith in new situations.

What do you admire most about this young girl?

ACTIVITIES

1. Help Wanted!

Imagine you are a reporter for Old World Times Newspaper. The skills required for this job include an ability to conduct an interview, fluency in Syrian and Hebrew languages (remember this is make-believe), and skill in presenting both sides of a story.

Write the story of the little maid from Israel in your own words and what we can learn from her example. Use your imagination to conduct “interviews” of people who may have been there.

2. Choose an Answer

Circle the correct answers in the following story:

In this Bible story, we have learned several things about an [ old / young ] [ flashlight / Israelite girl ] who [ volunteered / was commandeered ] to serve as a slave [ in a foreign land / in the Peace Corps ].

She [ served diligently / took lots of coffee breaks ] and [ earned the trust / caused the rust ] of her captors.

She [ cared little / was genuinely concerned ] for Naaman, even though he was her [ captor / pastor ] and an enemy of her people, Israel.

Because of her [ faith in God’s power / abilities as a servant ], this young girl convincingly proposed a remedy for the army commander’s affliction.

Her action led to [ a promotion / the wonderful miracle ] preserved in the pages of the Bible for all to read.

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