2 Kings 5:18
Yet may the LORD forgive your servant this one thing: When my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my arm, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant in this matter."
Alloy in GrandeurMatthew Henry.2 Kings 5:1-19
Greatness Secondary to Goodness2 Kings 5:1-19
NaamanCanon Hutchings.2 Kings 5:1-19
Naaman the SyrianF. Whitfield, M. A.2 Kings 5:1-19
Naaman, the LeperC. Bullock.2 Kings 5:1-19
Naaman, the SyrianM. G. Pearse.2 Kings 5:1-19
Namman the SyrianMonday Club Sermons2 Kings 5:1-19
Some Modern Lessons from an Ancient StoryHomiletic Review2 Kings 5:1-19
The Buts of LifeJ. Greenhough, M. A.2 Kings 5:1-19
The Conquest of DisadvantagesH. H. Henson, B. D.2 Kings 5:1-19
The Fruits of AdversityE. F. Chapman, M. A.2 Kings 5:1-19
The History of Naaman's Disease and CureHomilist2 Kings 5:1-19
The Method of GraceW. Mincher.2 Kings 5:1-19
History of Naaman's Disease and CureD. Thomas 2 Kings 5:1-27
Naaman the SyrianC.H. Irwin 2 Kings 5:4-19
The Story of Naaman: 2. the Suggestive CureJ. Orr 2 Kings 5:8-19
Bowing in the House of RimmonThe Dean of Peterborough.2 Kings 5:18-19
CompromiseE. Monro.2 Kings 5:18-19
ConscientiousnessLife of Faith2 Kings 5:18-19
No CompromiseC. S. Horne, M. A.2 Kings 5:18-19
The House of Rimmon; Or, Questionable ConductD. Rowlands, B. A.2 Kings 5:18-19
The New Convert and Idolatry2 Kings 5:18-19
There are no Little SinsC. Williams.2 Kings 5:18-19
True to Conscience2 Kings 5:18-19
Worldly ConformityW. H. Lewis, D. D.2 Kings 5:18-19

The cure which Naaman came to seek was, nevertheless, obtained by him. We have here -

I. THE INTERPOSITION OF ELISHA. Naaman was on the point of being sent away, when Elisha interposed. God's prophet vindicates God's honor.

1. Elisha sends to the king. "He sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes?" etc., His words were:

(1) A rebuke of faithlessness. The king was not God, to kill and to make alive; but was there not a God in Israel who could? Has he already received no proofs of this God's power? Wherefore, then, had he rent his clothes? How much of our despondency, fear, despair, arises from want of faith in a living God!

(2) An invitation to seek help in the right quarter. "Let him come now to me." The proof that there was a prophet, and behind the prophet a living, wonder-working God, in Israel, would be seen in deeds. Why does the sinner rend his clothes, and despair of help? Is Christ not able to save? Does he not invite him to come?

2. Naaman comes to Elisha.

(1) He seeks cleansing.

(2) Yet with unhumbled heart.

His horses and chariot drive up to Elisha's door. The great man has no thought of descending to ask the prophet's blessing. He waits till he comes out to him. He is the man of rank and wealth, whom Elisha should feel honored in serving. But Elisha does not come out. Not in this spirit are cures obtained at the hand of God. Naaman must be taught that gold, silver, horses, chariots, rank, avail nothing here. To be saved the highest must become as the humblest. Pride must be expelled (Philippians 3:7, 8).


1. Elisha's direction. Instead of himself appearing, Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman, directing him to wash seven times in Jordan, and he would be clean. The means of cure was:

(1) Simplicity itself. Nothing could be simpler or more easy than to bathe seven times in Jordan. Any leper might be glad to purchase cleansing by plunging in a river. God's way of salvation by Christ is characteristically simple. It involves no toilsome pilgrimages, no laborious works, no protracted ceremonies. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

(2) Symbolical. Jordan was the sacred stream of Israel; bathing was the Levitical mode of the purification of a leper (Leviticus 14:8, 9); seven was the sacred number. Leprosy, as the type of sin, was fitly cleansed by these purificatory rites. That which answers to the bathing in the spiritual sphere is "the washing of regeneration, and of renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5).

(3) In its very simplicity, fitted to humble the proud heart. As we are immediately to see, it humbled Naaman. It did not strike him as a sufficiently great thing to do. Thus many are offended by the very simplicity of the gospel. It seems treating them too much like children to ask them simply to believe in the crucified and risen Savior. Their intellectual eminence, their social greatness, their pride of character, are insulted by the proposal to efface themselves at the foot of the cross.

2. Naaman's anger. "Naaman was wroth, and went away." The causes of his anger were:

(1) His expectations were disappointed. He thought the prophet would have shown him more respect; would have employed impressive words and gestures; would have given the cure more eclat. Instead of this, there was the simple command to wash in Jordan. What a down-come from the imposing ceremonial he expected! Men have their preconceived ideas about religion, about salvation, about the methods of spiritual cure, which they oppose to God's ways. They say with Naaman, "Behold, I thought, He will surely do this or that. The Jews rejected their Messiah because he was" as a root out of a dry ground" (Isaiah 53:2); they rejected Christianity because its spiritual, unceremonial worship did not accord with their sensuous ideas. Others reject the gospel because it does not accord with the spirit of the age, is not sufficiently intellectual, philosophical, or aesthetical. God reminds us, "My thoughts are not your thoughts," etc. (Isaiah 55:8).

(2) He was required to submit to what seemed to him a humiliation. He was told to bathe in the waters of Jordan, a stream of Israel, when there were rivers as good, nay, better, in his own country, to which, if bathing was essential, he might have been sent. "Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus," etc.? It seemed like a studied slight put upon his native rivers, an intentional humiliation put upon himself, to require him to go and bathe in this local stream. How often does wounded pride rebel at the simple provisions of the gospel, because they involve nothing that is our own, that reflects glory on self, or allows glory to self! This is the very purpose of the gospel. "Where is boasting, then? It is excluded" (Romans 3:27). Things are as they are, "that no flesh should glory in his presence" (1 Corinthians 1:29). When Christ's atonement is extolled, the cry is, "Have we not rivers, Abanas and Pharpars, of our own?" "Naaman came with his mind all made up as to how he was to be healed, and he turned away in anger and disgust from the course which the prophet prescribed. He was a type of the rationalist, whose philosophy provides him with a priori dogmas, by which he measures everything which is proposed to his faith. He turns away in contempt where faith would heal him" (Sumner).

3. Naaman's obedience. Thus a second time the blessing was nearly missed - this time through his own folly and obstinacy. But, fortunately, a remonstrance was addressed to him, and he proved amenable to reason.

(1) The remonstrance of his servants. They, looking at things through a calmer medium, and with Jess of personal pique, saw the situation with clearer eyes. They addressed him soothingly and affectionately. They touched the core of the matter when they said, "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?" It was Naaman's pride that had been offended. But they pointed out to him, in very plain terms, the folly of his conduct. Was it not a cure he wanted? And if it was, then, surely, the simpler the means prescribed the better. Why quarrel with the conditions of cure because they were so simple? The same reasoning may be applied to the gospel. It is the simplicity of its arrangements which is the beauty of it. If men really wish to be saved, why quarrel with this simplicity? Surely the simpler the better. Would men not he willing to do "some great thing" to obtain peace with God, pardon of sin, renewal and purity of heart? How much more, then, when it is said, "Wash, and be clean"?

(2) The washing in Jordan. Naaman's ire had cooled. He felt the force of what his servants urged. He might prefer Abana and Pharpar, if he liked; but it was Jordan the prophet had named. If he did not choose to submit to bathe in this river, he must go without the cure altogether. "Neither was there salvation" (Acts 4:12) in any other river than this one. This decided him. He went down without further parley, bathed seven times in Jordan as directed, and, marvel of marvels, "his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." So speedy, sure, and complete was the reward of his obedience. As effectual to procure salvation and spiritual healing is the look of faith to Jesus, the appropriation of the merit of his blood, the spiritual baptism of the Holy Ghost.

III. NAAMAN'S GRATITUDE AND PIETY. What joy now filled the heart of the newly cleansed Naaman! How clearly he saw his former folly! How glad he was that he had not allowed his anger to prevail against the advice of his servants and his own better reason! At once he returned to Elisha; and it was very evident that his heart was overflowing with gratitude, and that he was a changed man. Like the leper in the Gospel, he returned "to give glory to God" (Luke 17:17, 18). Gratitude is most becoming in those who have received great mercies from God. Salvation awakens joy; gratitude prompts to consecration - not in order to salvation, but as the result of it, man becomes "a new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17). We observe:

1. His acknowledgment of God. "Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel." This is not a comparative statement, but an absolute one. Naaman is convinced that the gods of the heathen are nullities, and that the God of Israel is the only true God. He was brought to this acknowledgment through the great miracle God had wrought upon him. It is God's mighty acts in and for men which give the best evidence of his existence.

2. His offer of reward. It was no longer the heathenish notion of purchase, but a pure motive of gratitude, which led Naaman to press the wealth he had brought upon Elisha. The prophet, however, had no desire for his goods. With an emphatic asseveration, he declared that he would accept nothing.

(1) He must keep his act free from the possibility of misconception.

(2) A miracle of God must not be vulgarized by being made the occasion of money presents.

(3) Naaman's instruction must be completed by teaching him that money gifts do not pay for spiritual blessings. Yet Naaman's motive was a right one. It is right also that, from the motive of gratitude, we should consecrate our wealth to the Lord's service.

3. His determination to worship. If he cannot persuade Elisha to accept gifts, he himself will become a suppliant, and ask a favor from the prophet. He entreats that he may be permitted to take with him two mules' burden of earth of the Holy Land, that he may form an altar for the worship of Jehovah; for he is resolved henceforth to worship him only. This was granted. His altar would connect his sacrifices with the land which God had chosen as the place of his special habitation. Real religion will express itself in acts of worship. It will not content itself with cold recognition of God. It will build its altars to Jehovah, in the home, in the closet, in the church, and in the chief places of concourse.

4. His religious scruple. One point alone troubled him. In attending his royal master, it would be his duty to wait on him in his state visits to the temple of Rimmon, and, as his master leaned on his hand in bending before that idol, he would be under the necessity of seeming to bend before it, and yield it obeisance also. He asked that the Lord might pardon him in this thing. Elisha bade him go in peace.

(1) His act was not really worship, nor did he mean it to pass for such either before the king or the other worshippers.

(2) "An idol is nothing," and, if he understood that clearly, his conscience would not be "defiled" (1 Corinthians 8:4-7). There is need for great care, even in outward acts, lest they expose the doer to misconception, or hurt the consciences of others. Life, however, is woven of intricate threads, and it is impossible but that in public, social, and official positions the Christian will sometimes find himself in situations of all the concomitants of which he can by no means approve. It will not do to say of these that it is his duty at all hazards to come out of them; for it is frequently through his duty that he is brought into them, and to escape them entirely he would require to "go out of the world" (1 Corinthians 5:10). If active participation in anything sinful is sought to be forced on him - as if Naaman were required actually to bow the knee in worship to Rimmon - then he must refuse (Daniel 3.). - J.O.

In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant.
Naaman returned to Elisha; full of gratitude and generous recognition of his own error and Elisha's successful power, he and all his company came and stood before He paid a willing and a grateful homage to the God of the conquered Israelites, and like Saul of old, with the same generosity and openness and natural disposition, he was compelled at once upon conviction to own the errors of the past, and to declare his firm intention of reformation for the future. His next act was the offering a gift to Elisha; free and generous in heart, he noticed the poverty of the prophet, and he wished to relieve it. On the refusal, Naaman put forward the request to be permitted to have two mules' burden of earth: for, said he, "thy servant shall henceforth offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord." This request is based on the old impression that the Syrian earth was sacred, as especially belonging to the land that God had blessed. Of course he might have taken as much as he pleased, but the gift of the prophet, in Naaman's eyes, consecrated the burden. He probably intended to raise an altar in his own land, on which to sacrifice to the true God, from an impression of the high sanctity of the country in which Elisha ministered, and the healing Jordan flowed. It is a singular circumstance that there was a strong impression amongst the heathen nations that earth conveyed a sanctifying influence. The Mahometans value the smallest modicum of earth from Mecca; and the Jews themselves have so high a veneration for the earth of Palestine, that they count it their highest privilege to be carried from the land of their sojourn to be laid in the dust of their fathers. If this is impossible, their custom is to have small portions of the sacred earth, which is placed under the head of the corpse. This m the case at this day among the Jews in England, so that earth is brought over in quantities continually to be laid in and consecrate their graves. Elisha seemed to imply that Naaman might do as he wished, and take what he would. Are we right in dissembling our real opinions and faith in God in deference to the opinions of another, even though he be our superior and master? Is the permission of Elisha to extend to all cases of difficulty such as the one in which Naaman was placed? or is there some exceptional condition in the position of the Syrian, which excepts the applicability of his case to our own? But we must find the solution to this difficulty in the peculiar kind of difficulty which Naaman represents, and for that purpose we must look back to the traits which I have mentioned. We have seen throughout that there was a consistency as well as a peculiarity in his condition. He was like thousands around us — honest in heart and in intention; earnest-minded and desirous to do their duty; nevertheless, as being in the position of recent converts or of young beginners in religion, such men are placed in positions of difficulty and peril: everything depends on the sincerity and integrity of their purpose and the simplicity of their mind. These were determined in the case of Naaman by certain traits of character. The disposition must be tried by the standard of these traits before the conduct of the individual can be included within the limitations to which Elisha's permission was granted. Here lies the point of the question. Once sufficiently show that the character be exactly that of the Syrian captain — so simple, so sincere, so little open to second motive, so fresh and earnest in its efforts to know and serve God, and Elisha's permission takes effect. If God be satisfied with the integrity of our purpose, if with a full and fair opportunity of knowing our character, a religious teacher grant us a permission to act as Naaman wished to act, we are safe in doing it; but where such conditions do not exist, we take that permission to the peril of our souls. But I will take some cases in order to illustrate more clearly my meaning. A young person in the bosom of a family, whose parents have called forth from him deep sentiments of respect and affection, has a strong conviction that a certain course of conduct, hitherto pursued under the sanction and wish of those parents, is wrong, and can only be persevered in to the danger of the soul, and at the expense of duty to God. It may be that a certain circle of society in which such a man has hitherto moved bears to him an irreligious aspect; or an amusement has been indulged in which appears in a more than doubtful character. It is difficult, in such cases, for a young person to appear to set himself up as a teacher by breaking away from what his parents have hitherto esteemed harmless. May he continue the suspected practice in deference to the wish of the parent, and despite the violation of his own sense of right? or is he bound at once to denounce the practice, and virtually those who defend it, by suddenly giving it up? Where there is an entire simplicity and honesty of heart in such a person towards God, may we not feel that, in deference to Elisha's permission, he had better still pursue the suspected course? And may we not feel that where a religious adviser can discover such traits of simplicity as the prophet might have done in the Syrian, that he may grant the permission to succumb externally to the prejudices and mistaken notions of others who stand in the relationship of authority. And that for many reasons, partly lest vanity or an over-strong expression of egotism be developed in the young; partly lest sincere intention, though mistaken judgment, might be so hindered in such a manner as to cheek religion or improvement in the character altogether. If, however, there be a swerve from perfect integrity of purpose, such advice would be out of place. Our own infirm nature and the world outside us offer so many temptations for lowering the standard of truth, that we should live in continual anxiety lest the conditions laid down above be not applicable to our case. Then the bowing in the house of Rimmon would simply be an attempt to serve God and Mammon.

(E. Monro.)

I have often found myself wishing that this incident was not recorded in the Bible, not because it is not possible to offer a guarded justification of Elisha's consent to what was undoubtedly an insincere action, but because under the shelter of his prophetic authority so many deeds of moral cowardice and hypocrisy have contrived to exist. To any one who is a believer in a progressive revelation, and who does not expect to find in the Old Testament as final a statement in regard to what is right and what is expedient as in the New, it is sufficient to say that this sanction of Elisha to Naaman's request belongs to an early stage in the education of the conscience. So long as a man believes in polytheism, or so long as he believes nothing, no moral problem presents itself. But when a man is driven to the conviction that this faith and worship alike are false and idolatrous, and that they hold back mind and soul from the recognition of the true God, clearly a serious problem in ethics arises. May a man with such a belief render in the temple of idols even an external and formal homage to that from which his whole soul revolts? To what extent is it possible here to have what we call a compromise? Is it right that any man should act so as deliberately to suggest that he believes what he does not believe, and supports what he cannot support? Is it right that action should speak one way and conscience another, and that attitude should be allowed to contradict the sacred conviction of the mind? This is the problem. Naaman has enough, shall I say, of the spirit of the diplomatist left to foresee the situation that must arise when he returns to his duties at the Court. He tells Elisha that on no consideration will he ever again offer burnt-offering or sacrifice unto other gods, but only unto Jehovah. But on those occasions when his duty binds him to accompany the king to the idol temple to worship, and when he is required to bow down in formal homage to the idol of the house, he prays to be forgiven this offence against truth and conscience. Elisha reassures him, and tells him to go m peace. Now, one can easily see how far this view of compromise might carry a man, and how disastrous it might become to sincerity and reality in matters of religion. It is, if I may say so without any offence, the perilous theory that is inseparable from a State establishment of religion. We have had, for instance in England, eminent examples of kings, such as Charles II. and James II., who were Romanists at heart, and even avowedly. Their position, however, as head of a Protestant Church, required them to take an oath denouncing their own most cherished convictions. They did it. I daresay they would have said that they bowed down in the house of Rimmon. But clearly the one horrible result of such an attitude is that you can no longer believe that any one speaking in that capacity does honestly and heartily mean what he says. As soon as you begin to transfer the casuistry of diplomacy to the sphere of religion you inflict an irreparable injury upon the religious life. Men begin to make statements, sign creeds, wear vestments, and perform ceremonies which it is diplomatic to make and sign and wear and perform. And the suspicion soon ripens into conviction in the popular mind that even in the sphere of religion men do not act out of a perfectly sincere, honest heart, but having regard rather to what is expedient than to what is right and true. Unreality and insincerity may be, and are, objectionable everywhere. Nobody likes them in social life. They create in business life an atmosphere of distrust. But they are mortal to religion. If Christianity is not built upon conscience, it is a mockery. We are so often told of the harm that is done by being over-scrupulous — a temptation which does not appear so especially to beset the twentieth century — that we may do well to trace out a little further the education of the conscience. Elisha sanctioned this particular compromise, under which Naaman was permitted diplomatically to honour where conscientiously he abhorred. But now pass on to a piece of Old Testament literature which, as we know, was the product of a much later age. What was the view taken of the obligations imposed by conscience, and the possibilities of compromise, in the Book of Daniel? The Book of Daniel introduces us again to the problems connected with a State-established religion. Here is the narrative of the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up, and to which all the nation was compelled by law to do homage. Now notice how convenient to the three Hebrew youths had been Elisha's sanction of compromise if they had only felt able to plead it. They were only required to bow down in the house of Rimmon. An outward and formal gesture of conformity was all that was necessary, and a man may keep his thoughts to himself. But during the interval it is quite evident the sense of the obligations due to conscience as a Divine monitor had developed. Compromise of the Elisha sort has become impossible, even contemptible. A man must avoid even the appearance of falsehood, and face the most fiery ordeal sooner than lend formal sanction to what his conscience and intellect condemn. That is an early part of the Book of Daniel. Later on comes an even closer parallel to the case of Naaman. For Daniel himself is a Government official, a State officer, as was Naaman; and what is required of Daniel is not a public overt homage to a false and idolatrous system, but merely to refrain from any conspicuous practice of his own forms of religious worship. Hero surely is a proper case for compromise. As one in influence at Court, it will not be politic to resist the law. And, after all, no law could prevent his putting up silent petitions to Jehovah, though he were compelled for the time to discontinue a religious custom. But so inexorable has become the law of conscience that to cast a slight upon his own sacred convictions and a slur upon his own sacred convictions and a slur upon his own religion, to discontinue the public confession and worship of the God of him and of his fathers, is a thing now unthinkable. And it remains true, I think, that, in the sober judgment of mankind, Daniel's protest on behalf of liberty to worship God after his own fashion was not an impolitic act, diplomatically foolish, but an honourable and heroic deed of moral integrity. Well, now, the question will, I doubt not, arise whether Christianity strengthened or modified these later Jewish beliefs as to the sovereignty of conscience. I have always personally maintained that Christianity is transcendent common sense. When its principles came to be applied among people who lived under other governments, and in the presence of various idolatrous customs which had the sanction of the State, problems arose exactly similar to those presented in the Book of Daniel. We are all of us familiar with that popular pictorial representation of the fair young Christian maiden offered life on condition that she would drop the sacred bean into the censer of Diana. It was understood to be merely a formal compliance with a State Custom, and she could preserve her faith and her life by consenting to this compromise. According to the diplomatic view of religion, she would have been entirely exonerated if she had been governed rather by policy than by principle. But the early Church, less confused, perhaps, by casuistries and doctrines of expediency than we are, was inflexible in its resistance to what used to be called in England, in later days, occasional conformity. The State censer of Diana remained empty and the uncompromising Christian carried her clear, free conscience to the scaffold, and died without a blot upon her escutcheon, or a stain upon her honour. And mark, it is vain to deny that it was this heroism of constancy that broke down the power of an established paganism, as it never would have been broken down if Christianity had consented to weak compromises. The clear dictates of conscience are the beliefs which require and deserve to be supported, even by the awful final argument of martyrdom. At the same time, we must fairly and frankly recognise that even then all Christian people did not take the same view as to what conscience demanded, and many people who would never have abjured the faith did, for the sake of what they would have called, I think, peace and social harmony, feel justified in doing things which to others were doubtful, if not criminal. So far I have been rather stating principles than dealing with the practical difficulties of their application. But I do not want to deny or to ignore those difficulties. There are plenty who say, These principles are possible of application in the Church, but impracticable in the State. The great thing we need in the State is a modus vivendi. If the Daniels of Society insist upon their own personal convictions against the settled judgment of the general citizenship, Society becomes impossible. There must be give and take. The majority must rule, and the minority must accept its ruling, and cheerfully submit. To that statement of civic duty there is clearly something to be added. It becomes the problem of a wise State not to intrude into that sanctuary where a man's religious beliefs have their being, and not to seek to compel him to give direct sanction and support to what he believes to be error and falsehood. Of course, this is a modern principle of civic life. In Mr. Morley's classic discussion of compromise he has some very caustic things about the theory of what he calls the "plenary inspiration of majorities" and "the House of Commons' view of human life." We are familiar with the idea. If a man happen to be intellectually and spiritually built so that he is in a permanent minority in this country, he may, therefore, be compelled to contribute financial aid to institutions against which his most sacred convictions hourly protest. Political attempts to outrage religious convictions are few and far between, and, despite recent experience, they will become less and less frequent until it is recognised, as it must be recognised some day, that what is impolitic is not the resistance of the individual to laws that outrage his conscience, but the action of the State that can endeavour to put such laws into operation. But, men and women, there remains a larger and nobler cause to plead. The religion of Jesus Christ is the religion of no compromise. In this sense I mean: He asks all or nothing. Paganism would have given Him a place in the Pantheon among all other deities. It is impossible; He will accept no divided loyalty. When He speaks He expects to be obeyed. Lord, suffer me first to do this or that. No, no; Christ first, and this or that afterwards. No master was ever so exacting. The half-and-half life may succeed here and there; it is a deadly failure in Christianity. Christ's service is to command our uncompromising support. No man ever made his mark as.a Christian who was not out and out. "Put on," said Paul, "the whole armour of God." To wear one piece of the harness, or two, is to invite failure, and it is to play at Christianity. Christ's will — the whole of it; Christ's teaching — the whole of it; Christ's blessed gift of life — pardon, sanctification, redemption, all He has to give and all He stoops to ask — the whole of it. No compromise. That is Christianity. God give us grace to seek Him and serve Him with all our heart.

(C. S. Horne, M. A.)

What is related in the context concerning Naaman may help us in some measure to account for these words. He does not appear to be a thorough-going, substantial, steady character; on the other hand, he is turned about by every wind. After having expressed his unqualified contempt of the waters of Israel, which he had no occasion to do, in a very short time he professes such attachment to the soil of Israel, that he begs two mules' burden of it to carry home with him, which is equally unreasonable. Surely, then, the man who could thus fly from one absurd extreme to another, in obedience to mere impulse, was not one from whom we should have expected great consistency of conduct. We should have expected the very reverse; we should have expected him to be weak, changeable, and undetermined — professing the highest reverence for God, and yet doing what he feared God would not approve of. Possibly the prophet made allowances for him on this account; he knew something of the instability of his character, still, he would hope the best concerning him; hence, instead of reading him a lecture upon the necessity of firm, consistent, uncompromising adherence to duty, he simply said, "Go in peace," trusting, perhaps, that as he became more enlightened in Divine truth, his loyalty to it would increase in proportion. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent; and no man needs to understand this more than God's prophet; for even the most excellent speech, if spoken at an inopportune moment, may produce a certain amount of positive harm. The conduct of Naaman was to some extent excusable. Had it not been so, it is not probable that the prophet would have said, "Go in peace."

1. He was but imperfectly enlightened in Divine truth. This must have been the case; for he was a benighted heathen upon whom the light of knowledge was only beginning to dawn. We read of no one about his person who could have instructed him, except, indeed, the little captive maid who dwelt in his house; but it is not very likely that she had the power to teach him a great deal, and it is still less likely that she had the opportunity of doing so. When a heathen is converted to Christianity in our own day, the missionary is not so sanguine as to hope to find him at once a fully developed Christian. He is glad to witness the beginning of the Divine life in his heart; he despises not the day of small things; he is content, if by months, or even years, of diligent instruction, he will grow into anything like the full proportions of Christian manhood. But we may look nearer home. When an aged sinner, who has all his lifetime been accustomed to do evil, comes under the saving influence of the gospel, we hardly expect great things from him. We know the terrible power of vicious habits, especially such as have been long contracted, and the immense difficulty with which they are overcome. Consequently we excuse divers imperfections in him which we should have deemed unpardonable under different circumstances. We need not wonder, therefore, that the prophet, while really disapproving of Naaman's conduct, should be disposed to say at the time, "Go in peace."

2. It may be that Naaman's patriotism led him to speak thus. In spite of certain shortcomings he was unquestionably "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. It appears that he was, in fact, the king of Syria's right-hand man. By his wisdom in counsel and bravery in battle, he had saved his country from the power of its enemies. His services were therefore essential to the well-being of his nation. But it is just possible, that by refusing to accompany the king into the house of Rimmon, he would have disqualified himself in the eye of the law for the post which he held. He may have reasoned thus: "If I decline to take part in this trivial ceremony, this bowing down in the house of Rimmon, I shall deprive myself of all my power to serve my country; and what real advantage after all will the truth gain by my consigning myself to a life of obscurity? Will it not be far better for me to retain my position — influence — power, when it can be done at so small a sacrifice, and employ them in promoting the welfare of my people and the interests of truth?" To a man in his circumstances, I think such thoughts as these would have naturally suggested themselves. Be it observed, however, that though Naaman may have been excusable, in consequence of the peculiarities of his condition, still you must not rashly conclude that all others are excusable, who may adopt a similar policy. .The Jesuits hold that no act is blameworthy by which their own sect may be served. No matter how unjustifiable the act may be in itself, the object secured is a sufficient set-off, The end, they say, sanctifies the means. This is a most pernicious doctrine. Moreover, the conduct of Naaman himself, though excusable, was nevertheless extremely dangerous.

3. By going into the house of Rimmon, he might have relapsed again into idolatry. He might have been gradually, and almost unconsciously, led to give over sacrificing to Jehovah, and think of calling upon no other god than Rimmon, his old and first love. We have seen men who had indulged for years in certain vicious habits, mustering sufficient courage to renounce them at once and for ever. By one tremendous effort they broke their bonds asunder, and reached the vantage-ground of liberty. But these invariably found, that their safety lay in avoiding their former associates, their former haunts, their former ways, everything, in fact, that might have tempted them to fall back into their old sins.

4. By going into the house of Rimmon he set a bad example before others. He occupied a high position, he was popular among his countrymen, he was looked up to as a man of sterling worth and blameless conduct. It would have been impossible to estimate the influence he must have wielded, he could have had no conception of it himself, people whom he had never known, never seen, never heard of, watched his movements and copied his example. Have you ever thought of the responsibility by which power is ever accompanied? No matter how trivial, how insignificant, the power may be, there always attaches to it a certain amount of responsibility.

5. Let us, therefore, dwell upon the following subject: — The evil of following a questionable course of conduct. I do not merely affirm that it is wrong to do what is positively bad — what is considered wicked by universal consent, but I maintain that it is wrong to do that concerning which we have any misgivings, that which we only suspect to be evil, that respecting which the heart entertains but a vague dissatisfaction. Consider that —(1) It degrades the conscience. That conscience of yours is a sacred trust, a precious inheritance; and no sacrifice should be deemed too great to be made for its preservation. A good conscience is better than gold, better than power, better than fame, for it puts man on a level with the angel, directs his steps in perplexity, and strengthens him to endure sorrow; while a bad conscience makes man a demon, leaves his ruthless passions without a curb, and ultimately sinks him down to the lowest hell. That man is utterly lost whose goodness is altogether dependent upon external influences, who has within him no sense of justice and honour by which to shape his conduct. This, however, is precisely the state in which men with depraved consciences find themselves. The law of the land, public opinion, worldly interest — these are the only cheeks upon his vices. But I would give little for the restraint of law, or of public opinion, or of worldly interest; for there are innumerable circumstances in which they can exercise no power whatever. What is it, then, that degrades the conscience? This must be a question of unspeakable importance. I should like, therefore, to give it a straightforward answer. The conscience is degraded when its judgments are spurned, when its voice is silenced, when its reproofs are softened down. And no one does this more effectually than the man who knowingly pursues a course of conduct whose righteousness is questionable.(2) It weakens the moral power. True strength — real power — of whatever kind it may be, ought to be coveted. Weakness is no advantage, either to yourself, or to the world at large. Hence the apostle said, "Quit you like men, be strong." In what sense? Bodily? — intellectually? Doubtless the apostle appreciated strength in both senses. But he referred in these words to a nobler strength — moral strength — which is after all the true strength of a moral being, and without which he is the embodiment of weakness itself. When Martin Luther faced the great Council at Worms, and declared, at the peril of his life, that he would not recant one iota of the principles of the Protestant Reformation, he displayed his moral power. This is at once the grandest and the mightiest power which man can possess. In proportion as we have it are we great; in proportion as we lack it are we small, worthless, and despicable. Now, mark! your going into the house of Rimmon, your doing things which are not strictly right, is sure to paralyse your moral nature. The thought of this will haunt you when you least expect it; the consciousness of it will make you feel powerless when you need most to be strong.(3) It hampers spiritual aspirations. This is the worst thing of all about it. Man has been created in God's image; his soul is a temple for the Holy Ghost to dwell in; he is satisfied — content — happy, only as he is able to hold communion with the Infinite.

(D. Rowlands, B. A.)

This portion of Scripture is often misunderstood. It is thought by many that Naaman asks permission to offer some measure of worship to Rimmon while he mainly worshipped Jehovah; and that the prophet grants his request. An examination of the passage will, however, set it in a different light.

1. Naaman came to Elisha as an idolater and a leper. The miracle by which he was cleansed made such an impression upon him, that he became a convert to the Jewish religion, and he asked from the prophet permission to take two mules' burden of earth from the land of Israel, as possessing superior sanctity, to build therewith an altar, as is generally supposed, in his own country, declaring his resolution to offer neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord. It is very evident that Naaman does not ask permission to worship Rimmon, for he had lust asserted that he would henceforth offer no sacrifice to any god, but the Lord. And we may observe that our translators have marked their sense of the passage, by using two different words in our text to express Naaman's act, and his masters: "When my master goes to worship, and I bow myself," an interpretation of which the original is susceptible, so that he asks no permission, in their opinion, to worship Rimmon. It seems that it was Naaman's duty to attend the king of Syria when he went to pay his idol homage, and as the king leaned upon him with his arm upon his shoulder, and bowed very low, he could not well avoid bending his own body with the king. And he meant to ask, whether, if he did this out of duty to his master, and not of reverence to the idol, he should commit sin. It showed great tenderness of conscience in him. If the same question were put to us, we should say that it would depend very much upon circumstances whether it would be right or wrong for Naaman to do this. Elisha said unto him, "Go in peace," that is, Do as you have said, and you will not sin. Was not the prophet right in this decision? There was a precisely similar question in the apostles' days. The meat in the markets had generally been offered before some idol, then taken away and sold, and it became a matter of scruple whether a Christian might eat of that meat. St. Paul decided the question just as Elisha did a similar one. If any ate of it without intending to honour the idol at all, there was no sin in eating; but if their act was considered as sanctioning idolatry, they were to abstain. There are cases of a similar nature occurring in the present day, that may be similarly settled. A Christian traveller sometimes gains admission to a mosque, but is required to put off his shoes at the entrance; now he does not consider that as sanctioning Islamism, nor does his guide suppose that he has changed his religion thereby; therefore, there is no sin in it.

2. But there is another explanation of our text which may be more satisfactory, though that already given seems conclusive. We need not consider Elisha's answer as at all deciding Naaman's question. He saw, perhaps, that Naaman was already doubtful as to the expediency of the thing; he knew that his heart was, in the main, right, and he may have preferred to leave him to the teachings of his own conscience, as he became more enlightened, rather than to give him a solution of his scruples. And therefore he may have waived the question, bid him go in peace, and not trouble himself for the present in the matter. Now, taken in this view, it is easy to justify the prophet's answer. Some regard must be had, in unfolding truth, to the state of the inquirer's mind. The natives of Hindostan, for instance, are divided into castes. If the missionaries were to insist at the outset on the entire renunciation of caste, they could do nothing, and therefore they prudently say but little upon the subject, and gain the beliefs of their converts to the great truths of Christianity, trusting that they will gradually renounce caste, as indeed they do, But it would be a very different thing to attempt to introduce caste into a Christian country. There was a like state of things in the apostles' days. Many of the Jewish converts were strongly attached to their old Jewish rites. They believed in Christ, and yet kept the laws of Moses. Now the apostles allowed them to go on in their customs, and to become gradually weaned from them, and did in effect say to them as Elijah did, "Go in peace." But when the question was, whether the Gentile converts should come under Jewish rites, every apostle was opposed to it. Let none call this a time-serving doctrine, nor condemn the prophet for not as decidedly refusing Naaman's request. Let none say that the whole truth should be told, and that every man must come up at once to the standard of duty. The whole truth must, indeed, be told, but some regard must be had to the order and mode of telling it, as our Lord has taught us in saying, that new wine must not be put into old bottles. We do not let in the full blaze of noon on the eyes of one just recovering his sight. Religion has its milk for babes and its strong meat for men. When a city is besieged, the first point is to gain the chief defences, and the besiegers do not stop to carry every private house that may contain an enemy, but press on and seize the fortress first, and then proceed to take other posts in detail. So Elisha was satisfied for the present with having gained the citadel of Naaman's heart, and expected that he would gradually yield in everything to the truth.

3. We may learn from our text, so explained, some useful lessons on the subject of worldly conformity. What Rimmon, Baal, and Belial were to ancient believers, the riches, honours, and pleasures of the world are to Christians. The only safe guide in the matter is a heart filled with the love and the Spirit of God. Elisha left Naaman to this guidance, and God leaves the Christian to the same. If we love God supremely, we shall be in no danger of loving the world too much; and if we love our fellow-men, we shall not embitter them against religion by any fanatical austerity.

4. We may learn, again, from our text, that no Christian can always judge how far his fellow-Christian may go in conformity with the world.

5. And finally, while we are charitable in our judgment of others, we ought to be strict in watching against worldly conformity in ourselves.

(W. H. Lewis, D. D.)

Peculiar characteristic of the Bible that its claims upon us are of a sovereign order. We may dispute its authority. But friends and foes alike confess that the Bible makes pretensions which other books fail to make or to sustain in anything like the same degree. Those who assail the Scriptures say that this very claim is their weakness. They point to commands which they allege are immoral or unjust, and which yet, they say, are asserted to have come from God, and they ask how can the Book be inspired which lends its sanction to immorality and injustice. And it must be admitted that the apologists of the Bible have not always been wise in their defence. They have treated every part of Scripture alike. They have not been careful to distinguish between what the Bible narrates and that which the Bible authorises. These remarks apply directly to the narrative in my text. Here we find Naaman making an excuse, it is said, for dissembling his religious convictions, and Elisha accepting the plea. Naaman is convinced that Jehovah is the true God, and will worship Him, but is not prepared to make any sacrifice for his faith. To bow in the house of Rimmon is the condition on which he retains rank and honour and his master's favour, and the prophet does not forbid the outward act of idolatry. What is this but to open a wide door for every species of dissimulation, and to make expediency, not truth, the rule of conduct? Now, to state the question thus is to answer it to every honest mind. But to state the question thus is not to state it fairly.

1. In the first place, even if Elisha did not accept Naaman's plan, it would not follow that he was right. An inspired prophet was not equally inspired at all times. Except when he distinctly claims to speak as a messenger of God, there is no reason to suppose that any Divine sanction attaches to his words (St. Peter publicly rebuked by St. Paul).

2. But in the next place, did Elisha accept Naaman's plea? The evidence turns entirely upon Elisha's answer: "Go in peace." These words, it is said, do give the permission which Naaman craves. But is it so? These words do not imply all that they may seem to our western ears to imply. They are the common form of Oriental leave-taking. Sometimes, it is true, in Holy Scripture, the phrase means something more than "Farewell," conveys apparently the further notion of approbation. (Instances: Exodus 4:17, 18; Judges 18:6; 1 Samuel 1:16, 17.) And we know how in the New Testament our Lord has given a sanctity to the phrase (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50). Such words in His lips were more than valedictions; they were benedictions also. But in the Old Testament they would have no such fulness of meaning. On the part of Elisha they do not necessarily express even acquiescence in the conduct which Naaman was seeking to excuse. They may have been little more than a courteous dismissal. Hence he would not sanction Naaman's want of consistency on the one hand, nor condemn it on the other. He declines the office of judge. He leaves conscience to do her work. Elijah would have thundered in his ears, "If the Lord be God, then follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him." Elisha says, "Go in peace." The prophet saw Naaman's weakness, but he saw also Naaman's difficulty. Put the worst construction upon his words, and you will say he evades the question. Put the best, and you will say he exercises a wise forbearance.

4. But a question remains which may fairly be asked: how far is Naaman to be excused in urging the plea which he urges in the text for compliance with an idolatry which he professed to have renounced? If we would judge a righteous judgment we shall not judge Naaman by a light and according to a standard which he did not possess. We shall look fairly at his circumstances, we shall consider his opportunities. The miracle had deeply impressed him. He vows that henceforth he will worship no God but Jehovah. Doubtless he was perfectly honest in the expression of his convictions. He intended to make no secret of them; for he was prepared to build an altar to Jehovah. He was even alive to the inconsistency of his conduct; he felt that he was asking an indulgence for what he could not wholly justify — "The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing." But we see also that superstition mingled with his faith. He thought that one place was holier than another. The soil of Israel must, he thought, be holier than the soil of Syria; and so he will have two mules' burdens of earth of the prophets that he may build an altar to Jehovah. It is not from such a man that you could look for clear insight or heroic resolution.

5. But another and different question is suggested to us by this history. How far is Elisha's conduct a guide for those who go as missionaries to the heathen now? (1 Corinthians 8:10, 11). Here we have the broad principle of truth and charity which Elisha had not the knowledge, even if he had the courage, to lay down. But Naaman had no "weak brother" to be offended by his conduct. And the mighty, overpowering motive, "for whom Christ died" — Naaman knew nothing of this. Naaman had not heard, Elisha had not heard of One "Who being in the form of God," etc. (Philippians 2:6-84 that He might breathe into them something of His own spirit of self-sacrifice; that He might teach them to take up their cross daily and follow Him.

(The Dean of Peterborough.)

Some suppose that Naaman referred to the past; that when he said, "In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant," he entreated forgiveness of what he now saw was criminal; and that when the prophet answered, "Go in peace," he announced the pardon entreated; but to this view of the case there is a serious objection. To avoid it, therefore, others conclude, and with them I fully concur, that Naaman spoke prospectively, and that the prophet, aware of Naaman's conviction, that bowing with the king in the house of Rimmon was wrong, left it to produce its effect; assured, that by the grace of God, he would soon see that idolatry must be totally abandoned, and that he who would serve God acceptably, must abstain from the appearance, as well as the reality of evil. Incorrect views of the evil of sin are, however, still entertained by those whose minds are altogether unenlightened; or only, as was most probably the case with Naaman, partially illuminated. Every attempt to extenuate sin discovers great depravity. You do not proceed thus as to trespasses against yourselves and society. Does a man take away, without authority, a part of your property? You do not call it a mistake, or a misappropriation, but a theft. Yes, in such cases you are sagacious in discerning, and inexorable in judging; you make no allowance for the suddenness of surprise, or the power of temptation; a single failure convinces you of the absence of moral principle, and is deemed sufficient to blast the reputation — to destroy the character of him who discovers it. But, I ask, are you thus eagle-eyed, jealous, and rigorous, as to sins against God? Let the expressions current among us furnish a reply. Is a man proud? He is said to maintain his proper dignity. Is he full of wrath? It is said, the things he suffered were enough to make him angry. Is he profane? It is said, he has contracted an unfortunate habit. Does he eat and drink to excess? It is said, he lives rather too freely.

I. THAT MANY ACTS WHICH MEN ACCOUNT LITTLE, HAVE BEEN VISITED WITH SIGNAL EXPRESSIONS OF GOD'S DISPLEASURE. Why, for instance, were Ananias and Sapphira struck dead? It was in each case for a single act of equivocation! Why was a prophet devoured by a lion? because he yielded to the solicitations of another prophet, to eat and drink, instead of pursuing his way? Why were forty-two young persons torn in pieces by bears? because they mocked Elisha! Why was an Israelite stoned to death? because he gathered sticks on the Sabbath Day!


1. That an act in itself inconsiderable, may indicate the existing state of feeling as clearly as one that is more palpable. As the motion of a leaf shows the quarter from which the wind blows, as certainly as the agitated branches of an oak, so you may gather any one's dislike, though he does not strike you, or abuse you, or attempt insidiously to destroy your reputation.

2. That a sinful act is not isolated and alone, but is commonly the commencement of a series of iniquities. So it is in reference to the individual. "Sins," says Henry, "are like circles in the water, when a stone is thrown in; one produces another." Gehazi committed the sin of avarice, — this urged to the sin of fraud; and the sin of fraud prepared for the sin of falsehood. Cain cherished the sin of unbelief, — this gave rise to the sin of anger; and the sin of anger issued in the sin of murder. One leak may sink a vessel; — one spark may explode a fortress; — one wound may kill the body; — one lust may damn the soul!

3. That every sin is inimical to the character and government of God. A common and sound principle of judgment has determined that the guilt of an act depends, in part, on the object at which it is aimed. To strike a beast wantonly is inhuman — to strike a father is parricidal — to strike a king is traitorous, and, by the consent of nations, merits death. "Against thee, O Lord, against thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight."


1. The subject casts a revealing light on the future punishment of the wicked.

2. The subject urges on us faith in Christ, and habitual dependence on Divine influence.

3. The subject demands the cultivation of Christian delicacy. This is easily distinguished from hypocritical scrupulosity; the one regards great things, the other all things the one is accompanied by bitterness, the other by kindness of spirit; the one is merely public, the other is secret also; the one is transient and occasional, the other regular and habitual.

IV. This subject should stimulate us to THE EMPLOYMENT OF EVERY COUNTERACTIVE AND EVERY PREVENTIVE OF SIN. Some of you are in possession of means of usefulness, which God has greatly owned and blessed. As heads of families, walk before your households with a perfect heart, and "train up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." As teachers of the young, aim diligently and devoutly to lead them to Him, who "gathers the lambs with his arm, and carries them in his bosom." As visitors of the ignorant, — the poor, — the destitute, show with affection, faithfulness, and zeal, how they may become "rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven." And consecrating your time, your talents, your property, your influence, to the cause of God, go forward, until the curse shall be removed, and "righteousness and praise spring forth before all nations."

(C. Williams.)

On Naaman's bowing in the house of Rimmon, and Elisha's non-interference (2 Kings 5:18, 19), Dean Farrar writes thus: "Elisha's permission must not be misunderstood. He did not hand over this semi-heathen convert to the grace of God... The position of Naaman was wholly different from that of any Israelite. He was only the convert, or the half-convert, of a day... To demand of one who, like Naaman, had been an idolater all his days, the sudden abandonment of every custom and tradition of his life, would have been to demand from him an unreasonable, and, in his circumstances, useless, and all-out impossible self-sacrifice. The best way was to let him feel and see for himself the futility of Rimmon-worship... But the general principle that we must not bow in the House of Rimmon remains unchanged."

Life of Faith.
Von Zealand, Frederick the Great's finest general, was a Christian although his Royal master was a scoffer. One day he was making his coarse jokes about the Saviour, and the whole place rang with guffaws of sympathetic laughter; and it was too much for old Von Zealand. Standing up amid the hush of the Court flatterers .and parasites, shaking his grey old head solemnly he said: "Sire, you know I have not feared death. I have fought and won thirty-eight battles, but I am an old man, and shall have soon to go into the presence of a greater than thou, the Mighty God who saved me from my sin, the Lord Jesus Christ, against whom you blaspheme. Sire, I cannot stand to hear my Saviour spoken of, as thou hast spoken of Him. I salute thee, sire, as an old man who loves the Saviour, on the edge of eternity." Then he sat down. Frederick, with a trembling voice, replied, "General, I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon." The company dispersed in silence, and the king that night reflected as he had never done before on the King of kings whom his brave general reverenced as his Saviour.

(Life of Faith.)

Our late Queen, Victoria the Good, once noticed a sergeant of the Scots Guard drilling one of the Duke of Connaught's children, and being pleased with him she invited the sergeant to appear at some private theatricals. The sergeant hesitated, and then asked if Her Majesty would graciously allow him to decline, for the theatre had been a snare to him in the past. The Queen agreed at once, and said she liked to have about her men who kept to their convictions, and shortly afterwards sent him a token of royal favour.

Aram, Elisha, Gehazi, Naaman, Syrians
Abana River, Damascus, Jordan River, Pharpar, Samaria, Syria
Arm, Bent, Bow, Bowed, Bowing, Enters, Forgive, Forgiveness, Goes, Leaneth, Leaning, Leans, Lord's, Master, Matter, Myself, Pardon, Propitious, Prostrate, Rimmon, Servan, Servant, Supported, Temple, Worship
1. Naaman, by the report of a captive maid, is sent to Samaria to be cured of leprosy
8. Elisha, sending him to Jordan cures him
15. He refusing Naaman's gifts grants him some of the earth
20. Gehazi, abusing his master's name unto Naaman, is smitten with leprosy

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Kings 5:18

     5126   arm
     7471   temples, heathen
     8769   idolatry, in OT

2 Kings 5:13-19

     6703   peace, divine OT

Naaman's Wrath
'And Elisha sent a messenger unto Naaman, 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.'--2 KINGS v. 10,11. These two figures are significant of much beyond themselves. Elisha the prophet is the bearer of a divine cure. Naaman, the great Syrian noble, is stricken with the disease that throughout the Old Testament is treated as a parable of sin and death. He was the commander-in-chief of the army
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Naaman's Imperfect Faith
'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
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Mr. Evil-Questioning Tried and Executed
Just listen to what Evil Questioning said to Naaman, and what Naaman said as the result of it. If I understand my text aright, it means just this: "What virtue can there be in water? Why should I be told to go and wash at all? I have washed many times and it never cured my leprosy. This dry disease is not so readily got rid of; but supposing there is some medical influence in water, why must I wash in Jordan? It is but a mere ditch, why can I not go and wash in some of my own rivers? We have medicinal
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 6: 1860

A Little Maid
BY THEODORE T. MUNGER [From "Lamps and Paths," by courtesy of Houghton, Mifflin & Co.] In old days we read of angels who came and took men by the hand, and led them away from the city of Destruction. We see no white-robed angels now; yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, and they are gently guided toward a bright and calm land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be that of a little child.--GEORGE ELIOT As aromatic plants bestow No spicy fragrance
Philip P. Wells—Bible Stories and Religious Classics

BY REV. J. MORGAN GIBBON "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."--2 KINGS v. 27. Elisha and Gehazi were master and man. They were more. They were almost father and son. Elisha calls him "my heart," just as Paul calls Onesimus his heart. Yet they parted so.--"He went out from his presence a leper." The punishment was terrible. Was it deserved? Had the master a right to pass this sentence?
George Milligan—Men of the Bible; Some Lesser-Known

Whether Christ's Genealogy is Suitably Traced by the Evangelists?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ's genealogy is not suitably traced by the Evangelists. For it is written (Is. 53:8): "Who shall declare His generation?" Therefore Christ's genealogy should not have been set down. Objection 2: Further, one man cannot possibly have two fathers. But Matthew says that "Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary": whereas Luke says that Joseph was the son of Heli. Therefore they contradict one another. Objection 3: Further, there seem to be divergencies between them
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Christ was Baptized at a Fitting Time?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ was baptized at an unfitting time. For Christ was baptized in order that He might lead others to baptism by His example. But it is commendable that the faithful of Christ should be baptized, not merely before their thirtieth year, but even in infancy. Therefore it seems that Christ should not have been baptized at the age of thirty. Objection 2: Further, we do not read that Christ taught or worked miracles before being baptized. But it would have been more profitable
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

"Let any Man Come. "
[7] "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."--John 7:37-38. THE text which heads this paper contains one of those mighty sayings of Christ which deserve to be printed in letters of gold. All the stars in heaven are bright and beautiful; yet even a child can see that "one star differeth from another in glory"
John Charles Ryle—The Upper Room: Being a Few Truths for the Times

The book[1] of Kings is strikingly unlike any modern historical narrative. Its comparative brevity, its curious perspective, and-with some brilliant exceptions--its relative monotony, are obvious to the most cursory perusal, and to understand these things is, in large measure, to understand the book. It covers a period of no less than four centuries. Beginning with the death of David and the accession of Solomon (1 Kings i., ii.) it traverses his reign with considerable fulness (1 Kings iii.-xi.),
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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