The Lesson of Naaman the Syrian

Bible stories are always fresh and attractive. They are clear cut pictures of various types of humanity presented for our teaching. Christian Science illumines these brief, but graphic, sketches of human nature, and reveals the deeper meaning underlying them. No story has a clearer lesson to convey to each one of us than that of Naaman the Syrian.

We are told of this "captain of the host of the king of Syria," that he was a great man and honorable, but that he was a leper. A little captive Hebrew maid spoke of the power of God to heal. In loving compassion, and with childhood's faith, she declared that Elisha, the prophet of God, would certainly cure the afflicted man were he present. As a result of this statement Naaman, armed with his king's letter to the king of Israel, set out in quest of healing, not only with hope and confidence and a large retinue, but with most royal presents to give in return for the good he anticipated. The king of Israel saw nothing but disaster in the message brought to him; but Elisha the prophet, hearing of the man who had come so far to seek help, directed that he should be sent on to him. And Naaman came in his pomp and splendor, and stood before the house of Elisha. The unexpected happened. Elisha sent a message by his servant to the effect that the famous warrior should dip seven times in the river Jordan, and that then he would be clean. The development of the story shows that the prophet, through spiritual insight, had read aright the traits of pride and arrogancy, and knew that they must first be wholly cleansed from thought in order that the healing might be accomplished.

Naaman's struggle was severe, but loving counsel was at hand; and good triumphed over evil. He dipped—or in other words, humbled himself—not once but seven times, in obedient response to the demand of God, through His prophet, to wash and be clean. Then the man was changed. To the large-heartedness and spontaneous generosity, to the readiness to believe in good, which had made him hasten to seek the blessings of Truth, there was added a deep humility which bowed in grateful acknowledgment before the divine power which had healed him. He promised whole-hearted devotion to the one God, from whose service he would never stray; and the man who had rendered faithful service to his king knew what allegiance to this new-found God would mean. The once haughty commander of men, when he had learned that there was only one true God in all the earth, touchingly craved pardon for the times when his human sense of duty to his master had made him do honor to a false god. In the light of Christian Science we see how necessarily the lesson of Naaman the Syrian, and his self-surrender, must be learned by each one of us before we can see God aright through reflected purity and love.

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The Light of Love
March 18, 1922

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