Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, "Look, my master has spared this Aramean, Naaman, while not accepting what he brought. As surely as the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him."
I. CONTRAST THE COVETOUSNESS OF THE ONE WITH THE UNSELFISHNESS OF THE OTHER.
1. Look, first of all, at Elisha's unselfishness. It is a sublime picture. We hardly know which to admire most - Elijah as he stands forth alone in rugged grandeur to confront the prophets of Baal; or Elisha, as in quiet simplicity and sincere forgetfulness of self he stands there before Naaman, and gently puts away from him the general's tempting gift. Of the two, I think Elisha's was the harder and therefore more heroic deed. Look at the temptations which he must have felt. The fame of him had spread into Syria, so much so that this haughty general, the foremost man in all Syria except its king, comes to him to be healed of his leprosy. The King of Syria himself sends a letter with his general. And now, when, at Elisha's bidding, Naaman has washed in Jordan, and become cured, was it not a strong temptation to the prophet to take glory and honor and reward for himself? Naaman wanted to give him rich remuneration. He presses it upon him. "Now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant." Listen to the answer: "As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none." Again Naaman urges him to take the gift, and once more and finally the prophet refuses. And why? Did he think there was any harm in taking a gift? Not at all. At other times he was quite content to be dependent on the bounty of others. St. Paul tells us that" even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel"' Elisha had no objection to the gift as such, and even if he did not want it for himself, he could have made good use of it. Why, then, did he refuse it?
(1) In the first place, he thought of the honor of his God. Elisha knew well that it was not by his word or by his power that Naaman had been healed, but by the power of the living God. He wanted Naaman to think, not of the prophet, but of the prophet's God. So St. Peter acted when he and St. John had healed the lame man at the Beautiful gate of the temple. He said to the people, "Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" and then proceeded to point out to the people the benefit of faith in Christ. So it will be with every true servant of Christ. He will seek to point men to his Master, and not to himself.
(2) Again, he thought of the honor of his religion. He doubtless felt that if he had taken Naaman's gift, Naaman might afterwards have said, "Well, these prophets of Israel, who call themselves followers of the true God, are no better than our own heathen priests. They follow their calling just for the money that it brings," Elisha knew that that was not true. He knew that he might lawfully take the gift, and yet be influenced by far higher motives, in the service of God. But he felt that, though all things are lawful, all things are not expedient. Oh that all God's people were equally solicitous about the honor of Christ's cause and kingdom! How careful we should be lest by our worldliness, our inconsistencies, our thoughtlessness, we bring reproach upon the religion we profess!
(3) Further, Elisha thought of the honor of his country. Israel had, at that time, been defeated by Syria. Elisha felt that it would be an humiliating thing for him - a Hebrew - to take a gift from one of the conquering nation, and especially from him who had perhaps been the leading general in the war against the Jewish people. Evidently that was what he meant when he said to Gehazi afterwards, "Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive yards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?" The time of his country's disgrace and defeat was not a time for him to indulge in luxury and display. There is room for more Christian patriotism in the present day - a patriotism that shall rest the honor of its country on the industry, morality, and uprightness of its people, and that shall see in every departure from these virtues a cause of humiliation and shame.
(4) Finally, Elisha thought also of the good of Naaman. He wanted not only to benefit his body, but his soul also. Therefore he avoided everything that might put a stumbling-block in his way. And we see how well he succeeded. Naaman, from what he had seen of Elisha, the prophet of the true God, and from what he had seen of God's power, resolved that he would never sacrifice to any other god but to the God of Israel. If we would benefit others, our own hearts must be right with God. There must be no doubt about our sincerity, no uncertainty about our motives. We see in all this how little Elisha thought of self. He had a great opportunity, and he used it well. He had a strong temptation presented to him, and he resisted it. It is a splendid instance of unselfishness, a splendid illustration of the power of Divine grace.
2. How different from all this; the covetousness, the selfishness, of Gehazi! The honor of his God, the honor of his religion, the honor of his country, the good of Naaman - none of these things ever cost him a thought. In his mind self is the one all-absorbing, overmastering consideration. Even his master's honor is of little value in his eyes. Elisha had refused to take Naaman's gift, yet Gehazi runs after him, and says that his master has sent him to ask for money and clothes, just as if he was so fickle as not to know his own mind, and so mean as now to send and beg that which but a little time before he had sturdily declined. Gehazi's greed for money had blunted all the finer feelings of his nature. No wonder that our Savior said, "Take heed and beware of covetousness." No wonder that Paul said, "The love of money is a root of all evil." All kinds of sins result from the love of money. We have an illustration of it in Gehazi's case. We have illustrations of it every day. How often men grow rich, but do not grow better! Sometimes increasing wealth has the strange effect of decreasing liberality. Sometimes increasing wealth brings with it increase of pride. Sometimes increasing wealth has made men more worldly. Instead of seeking to serve Christ more with their increased opportunities and increased influence, they serve him less. Thank God if with increasing wealth he has given you increasing grace. Thank God if he has enabled you to give the more, the more you got. Thank God if with increasing wealth you have kept a cool head, a warm heart, a steady hand, a clear conscience, and the friends of your youth. To those who are beginning life we would earnestly say, Beware of covetousness. Don't imagine that to be rich is the be-all and end-all of life. There are some things which money cannot buy. There are some things which money cannot do. Money can't keep death away from the door. Money cannot purchase the pardon of sin, or obtain for a single soul admission into heaven. "We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" But we are not therefore to despise money. Get all the money you can, provided you get it honestly, provided you do not sacrifice your soul's interests because of it, and provided that, when you have it, you spend it well. Make a good use of your money in your lifetime. "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon which the unrighteous worship, that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."
II. CONTRAST THE DECEITFULNESS OF THE ONE WITH THE STRAIGHTFORWARD HONESTY OF THE OTHER. There was nothing two-faced about Elisha. He did not say one thing with his lips, and think the very opposite in his heart. When Jehoram, King of Israel, after his idolatry and his sins, got into difficulties at the time that he and the other two kings went forth against the King of Moab, he then sent for Elisha. But Elisha does not meet him in any fawning, flattering spirit. He at once rebukes him for his sins. He says, "What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother." In the same way he treats Naaman as one whose pride needs to be humbled. Though he might have offended Naaman by refusing to take his gift, he plainly tells him, "As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none." What a contrast to this blunt, straightforward honesty is the two-faced deceitfulness of Gehazi! Observe how one sin brings another with it. He first of all coveted the money and the raiment, when he heard Elisha refuse Naaman's present. Then covetousness leads to deception and lying. He ran after Naaman's chariot, and invented a false story that some young men had come to Elisha, and that he wanted money and clothing for them. His guilt was doubly great, because he was Elisha's trusted servant or steward, and because he probably had other servants under him. And then he lies, not only to Naaman, but to his master, when he says," Thy servant went no whither." Oh, the baseness, the wickedness, of deceit! And yet how much of it is practiced in the world! How much of it in the social relationships of life! What sham friendships! What hollow civilities! Whitened sepulchers and social shams! How much of it in the commercial world! What barefaced adulteration! What cheating of customers! What false statements - known to be false - about the value of goods! Sometimes there are revelations - great failures, gross frauds. But what an immense amount of deceit goes on that is never heard of! Many deceive or act dishonestly just up to the limit of detection, just as if God's eye was not on them all the time. To say, "Every one does it," as an excuse for deceit or dishonesty in a business, is no reason why a Christian man should do it, why any man should do it. God's eye sees. His command is clear, "Thou shalt not steal." Thou shalt not put forth thine hand to take what is not thine own. The man who robs his customers, the man who plunders or purloins from his employers, even though he may be respectable in the eyes of the world, is as much a thief in the sight of God, and perhaps far more guilty, than the poor boy who steals a loaf in his hunger and want. Deceit and dishonesty never can bring a blessing. "Be sure your sin will find you out." We have many instances in history of the fearful consequences of even a single act of deceit. The one great stain upon the memory of Lord Clive, the hero of Plassey, and one of the greatest men who ever administered British rule in India, is his single act of deception practiced on an Indian prince. The words which Lord Macaulay has written on this subject are so important and so true, that they are well worth repeating: "Clive's breach of faith," he says, "was not merely a crime, but a blunder. We don't know whether it be possible to mention a state which has on the whole been a gainer by a breach of public faith. The entire history of British India is an illustration of this great truth that it is not prudent to oppose perfidy to perfidy - that the most-efficient weapon with which men can encounter falsehood is truth. During a long series of years, the English rulers of India, surrounded by allies and enemies whom no engagement could bind, have generally acted with sincerity and uprightness, and the event has proved that sincerity and uprightness are wisdom. English valor and English intelligence have done less to extend and preserve our Oriental empire than English veracity. All that we could have gained by imitating the doublings, the evasions, the fictions, the perjuries, which have been employed against us, is as nothing compared with what we have gained by being the one power in India on whose word reliance can be placed." Covetousness and deceit are injurious to personal happiness, to the order and peace of society, and to the welfare and prosperity of the nation. It is the gospel of Christ that alone has proved itself capable of grappling with these evils, and banishing these vices from the human heart. It teaches us not to think of self merely, but of others also. It teaches us to "put away lying, and to speak every man truth with his neighbor." To spread the gospel of Christ is the best way to promote social and commercial morality, to promote confidence between man and man, and to hasten the coming of that time when there shall be peace on earth and good will to men. Let the love of Jesus fill your heart, and flow out into your life, and then you will not intentionally do a wrong to any one, in thought, in word, or in deed. - C.H.I.
Gehazi, the servant of Elisha.
1. Gehazi was "the servant of Elisha, the man of God." Surely then he would be a good man? Can a good man have a bad servant? Can the man of prayer, whose life is a continual breathing unto God of supreme desires after holiness, have a man in his company, looking on and watching him, and studying his character, who denies his very altar, and blasphemes against his God? Is it possible to live in a Christian house and yet not to be a Christian? Cause and effect would seem to be upset by such contradictions. There is a metaphysical question here, as well as a question of fact. A good tree must bring forth good fruit; good men must have good children; good masters must have good servants; association in life must go for something. So we would say — emphatically, because we think reasonably. But facts are against such a fancy. What is possible in this human life? It is possible that a man may spend his days in building a church, and yet denying God. Does not the very touch of the stones help him to pray? No. He touches them roughly, he lays them mechanically, and he desecrates each of them with an oath. Is it possible that a man can be a builder of churches, and yet a destroyer of Christian doctrine and teaching generally? Gehazi did not understand the spirit of his master. He did not know what his master was doing. How is it that men can be so far seperated from one another? How is it that a man cannot be understood in his own house, but be thought fanciful, fanatical, eccentric, phenomenally peculiar? Gehazi had a method in his reasoning. Said he in effect: To spare a stranger, a man who may never be seen again; to spare a beneficiary, a man who has taken away benefits in the right hand and in the left; to spare a wealthy visitor, a man who could have given much without feeling he had given anything; to spare a willing giver, a man who actually offered to give something, and who was surprised, if not offended, because his gift was declined! there is no reason in my master's policy. It never occurred to Gehazi that a man could have bread to eat that the world knew not of. It never occurs to some men that others can live by faith, and work miracles of faith by the grace of God.
2. Gehazi prostituted an inventive and energetic mind. He had his plan (v. 22). The case was admirably stated. We have no hesitation in saying that the men of the world in most cases overmatch the men of the Church in matters of strong thinking regarding practical subjects and practical ministries and uses. We who are in the Church are afraid: we want to be let alone; not for the world would we be suspected of even dreaming of anything unusual; we would have our very dreams patterns of neatness, things that might be published in the shop windows, and looked upon without affronting the faintest sensibility on the part of the beholders. But the Gehazis, if they were converted, they would be men of energy, dash, courage, fire; we should hear of them and of their work.
3. But Gehazi was successful. Now all is well: lust is satisfied, wealth is laid up; now the fitness of things has been consulted, and harmony has been established between debtor and creditor, and Justice nods because Justice has been appeased. Were the test to end with the twenty-fourth verse we should describe Gehazi as a man who had set an example to all coming after him who wished to turn life into a success. Who had been wronged? Naaman pursues his journey all the happier for thinking he has done something in return for the great benefit which has been conferred upon him. He is certainly more pleased than otherwise. The man of God has at last been turned, he thinks, into directions indicated by common sense. All that has happened is in the way of business; nothing that is not customary has been done. Gehazi is satisfied, and Elisha knows nothing about it. The servant should have something even if the master would take nothing. It is the trick of our own day! The servant is always at the door with his rheumatic hand ready to take anything that may be put into it. We leave nothing with the master; it would be an insult to him. So far the case looks natural, simple, and complete; and we have said Elisha knows nothing about it. Look at Elisha: fixing his eyes calmly upon Gehazi, "Went not mine heart with thee?" Oh that heart! The good man knows when wickedness has been done: the Christ knows when He enters into the congregation whether there is a man in it with a withered hand; He says, There is a cripple somewhere in this audience. He feels it. "Went not mine heart with thee?" Was I not present at the interview? Did I not hear every syllable that was said on the one side and on the other?
4. Then the infliction of the judgment: "The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever" (v. 27). Thou hast touched the silver, thou didst not know that it was contagious and held the leprosy; thou didst bring in the two changes of garments, not knowing that the germs of the disease were folded up with the cloth: put on the coat — it will scorch thee! "He went out from his presence a leper as white as snow." A splendid conception is this silent departure. Not a word said, not a protest uttered; the judgment was felt to be just. Men should consider the price they really pay for their success. Do not imagine that men can do whatever they please, and nothing come of it. Every action we perform takes out of us part of ourselves. Some actions take our whole soul with them, and leave us poor indeed.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
1. The action and duplicity of Gehazi are of singular unworthiness. Like so many other histories they show that intercourse with good men and association with God-like work may become only the occasion of worse vileness in a man. The followers of Luther were seldom worthy of him. The followers of Calvin have not been true to their master. The adherents of the hallowed Wesleys did not take their sacred work only. The converts of Paul almost broke his heart. And the followers and servants of Jesus — where is there one of us who is worthy of his Master? Too often has it been found that one of the most repressive influences about the work of great men and good servants of Jesus Christ is in the fact that some of their nearest followers have had unworthy souls; and could turn their Master's greatness into the service of their own inferior aims and into the means of advance in this world. Do not many of us come to Christ with selfish feelings and serve our God for hire? Being with the good and great will not necessarily make us similar; otherwise Gehazi would have been a better man.
2. Gehazi's covetousness was of a gross, material kind — the love of money; and the miserable influence of it upon him is seen in this: that it produced inability to appreciate Elisha's spiritual motives. All that Gehazi let himself see was, that with the departing Naaman so much money went away too. More especially, however, notice that, as with Gehazi, so, generally, the covetous and unprincipled man lowers himself to a level on which he is unable, in daily life and business, to appreciate other motives than those of getting gain; or to measure anything in life's movements and enterprises by any other gauge than that of the money that can be gained or must be lost. Because of this abasing and prostituting of nature, Paul earnestly declares covetousness to be practically idolatry, and has its legitimate consequences on man's inner life, in antipathy to Jesus, and self-mutilation, with much sorrow. Gehazi could not feel the power of Elisha's spiritual motives in sparing Naaman and letting him go free of payment. He rather thought — why should my master not have taken the money? What good was it to let the talents of silver and gold and the beautiful Syrian robes go? The fair damask raiment of Damascus — why should it be lost? Naaman could afford it; and it would be far less than the equivalent of what he had received from Elisha. Look which way he would, the money that had been lost, the gain that had not been made, was ever alluring his debased soul Elisha's noble determination that the mercy of his God should, in Naaman's case, be had literally "for the asking": his resolve that the goodness of God should be then, as we say now, of grace, and not of buying or deserving, either before or after it had been obtained, — this to such a soul as Gehazi's was useless, fanciful, intangible.
3. In several other ways Gehazi's covetousness involved him in sin, and further defiled the good work that had been wrought by Elisha. To notice these is to see a testimony to a law of God that the young cannot heed too much — the law that forbids the possibility of solitary sins, isolated transgressions. There are no lonely, single sins. Sin needs sin to help it along, to buttress it, to back it, and give it success. One deception leads to another, and needs it. One lie begets another, and requires it to succeed. And it may be well for us all to remember that all the good and gains of this grand world are not worth one little lie.
4. Now we come, as men say they have so often in daily life and business, to face this misery — the success of the lie. The falsehood has thriven; to deceive has been found to be the short road to wealth; to insult God, to defame His work, to misrepresent Elisha and plunder Naaman, these things have "paid," as men say.
(G. B. Ryley.)
II. A second lesson we may learn from the story of Gehazi, is THE CERTAINTY OF SIN'S DETECTION. It was a boldly conceived and a boldly executed scheme of the audacious criminal. Such were the air-castles which Gehazi, in common with thousands of accomplished graduates in crime, have reared for themselves. But he forgot, or tried at least to bury from remembrance, the truth which he had embodied in his own thoughtless imprecation, that "Jehovah liveth." It is true that sentence against an evil work is not always (indeed, is seldom) executed speedily. God many times seems to "keep silence" — to be like the Baal of Carmel, "asleep." The daring and presumptuous venture their own sceptic conclusions on this forbearance of the Most High, in thinking Him "altogether such an one as themselves" — "The Lord doth not see, neither doth the God of Jacob regard" (Psalm 94:7). If, however, there be in the present state, exceptions to this great retributive law in God's moral economy, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." And as the detection will be sure, so also will the punishment be commensurate with the crime. In the case of Gehazi, most meet and befitting was the nature of the retribution. He would rob the restored Commander of his festal garment; a white garment, too, he shall have in return, but very different truly from the one he has avariciously appropriated: — a garment of terrible import, which in a terrible sense shall "wax not old," for it shall go down a frightful heirloom to his children's children. It is a robe of leprosy, "white as snow." Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap!"
III. A third lesson we may draw from the narrative is, THE TENDENCY OF ONE SIN TO GENERATE ANOTHER. When the moral sense becomes weakened, and moral restraints are withdrawn, the horde of demons gather strength; — the avalanche of depravity acquires bulk as well as velocity, in its downward course of havoc and ruin. "These wild beasts — the wolves of the soul — may hunt at first singly, but afterwards they go in packs, and the number increaseth the voraciousness thereof." When the citadel of the heart is carried by assault, one bastion after another is dismantled, and its treasure abandoned to the enemy. The Reaper angels, in the final harvest of wrath, are pictured as gathering, not single stalks, or even sheaves, but "bundles to be burnt." Mark the sad experience of Gehazi: —
1. Note his covetousness. Avarice was the besetting sin of his nature — the prolific parent of all the others.
2. But the motive-power of covetousness roused into action other depraved, and, till now, slumbering forces. We have to note next, his untruthfulness. Isaac Watts child-hymn, in simplest child-language, expresses in brief the sad experience of this covetous attendant —
For he who does one fault at first,
And lies to hide it, makes it two.
3. Scarcely distinguishable from Gehazi's sin of falsehood — akin to it, and a part of it — (a sister-spirit of evil) — let us note his hypocrisy.
(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)
II. THAT WHERE UNHOLY DISPOSITIONS ARE CHERISHED IN THE HEART, THEY WILL BREAK FORTH, WHEN A FAVOURABLE OPPORTUNITY PRESENTS ITSELF, IN CORRESPONDING ACTION.
III. THAT WHILE WE PROCEED IN A COURSE OF INIQUITY, IT IS IN VAIN FOR US TO EXPECT EITHER CONCEALMENT OR IMPUNITY.
1. All your sin is known to God. Man cannot read the heart of his fellow-man without a special revelation from heaven; but though man can only judge from outward appearances, and is consequently incapable of forming a right estimate, all things are known to God. "I, the Lord, search the heart and try the reins of the children of men."
2. All sin thus beheld is abhorred by God. The Lord is a God of infinite purity and righteousness. There is no object we can contemplate or conceive, that is half so offensive to the most delicate eye as sin is to God.
3. God, in His infinite wisdom, has a thousand means which we cannot conceive, of bringing to light the hidden works of darkness. Gehazi thought that his secret wickedness would never be discovered; but the whole scene passed, as it were, in panoramic view before his master. The Lord can suggest a single thought to the mind of a person acquainted with us, that may lead to a train of reflections, observations, and inquiries which will discover our secret iniquities.
I. PERSONS MAY BE VERY WICKED UNDER RELIGIOUS ADVANTAGES. The means of grace and the grace of the means are very distinguishable from each other, and are frequently found separate.
II. HERE IS A WARNING AGAINST THE LOVE OF MONEY. "Take heed, and beware of covetousness."
III. SEE THE ENCROACHMENTS AND PROGRESS OF SIN; AND LEARN HOW DANGEROUS IT IS TO GIVE WAY TO ANY EVIL PROPENSITY.
IV. HOW ABSURD IT IS TO SIN WITH AN EXPECTATION OF SECRECY! "There is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity can hide themselves."
V. ABHOR AND FORSAKE LYING. It is in common peculiarly easy to detect falsehood. Hence it is said that every liar should have a good memory. And what an odious character is a liar! How shunned and detested when discovered! To every mortal upon earth, the appellation of a liar is the most detestable. A liar is the emblem of "the devil, who was a liar from the beginning, and abode not in the truth."
Homilist.In dwelling on our subject we have suggested: —
I. GEHAZI'S INESTIMABLE PRIVILEGES. He held no ordinary position. He was servant to the greatest of prophets, and lived in an atmosphere of the most exalted purity and the highest piety. He had an example to contemplate which few others have been favoured with. Hence he could not excuse himself by the plea of ignorance. He had the means of knowing what was right. He was in constant contact with God's Divine word, and knew well the Divine law. He saw and probably enjoyed the ministrations of his master. Yet notwithstanding all this he sinned in a notable and presumptuous manner.
II. GEHAZI'S COMPLICATED SIN. How one crime is tied to another! They follow like children of a family. They are like the birds that collect after carrion. We seldom see one prominent sin hovering in the moral atmosphere unaccompanied by others. Bad men consort together. Bad spirits seek congenial company.
III. GEHAZI'S EXEMPLARY PUNISHMENT. We may imagine the radiant glee of Elisha's servant as he returned home well satisfied with his day's work on his own behalf. He was proud at the success of his well-contrived and ably executed stratagem. With these self-complaisant thoughts he went in and stood before his master, and glibly covered his sin with the lie. As if he could deceive God! He went out! In one moment he was transformed, both body and soul. We sometimes come upon these sudden revulsions of feeling, when in a single instant the whole current of a man's life is changed at once and for ever. The lessons which this subject has for ourselves are manifest: —
1. We see the danger of a covetous spirit. It is the mainspring of half the sins of the present day, as it has been the exciting cause of half the wars and crimes of the world.
2. We see in Gehazi the type of all sin. All sin is like his in its method. It never remains stationary. It grows and stretches from one thing to another. All sin is like Gehazi's in its selfishness. Surely he might have respected his master's honour and position in the sight of the foreign prince. Sin is selfishness. It is placing personal interests and ease and aggrandisement before the interest of others. And the simile is continued in the last point. All sin is alike in the certainty of its punishment. The wicked may persuade themselves that their wickedness is unobserved, but it will soon be manifest that every thought is known and that the day of reckoning must arrive.
I. LYING AND FALSE WAYS OF EARTHLY PROSPERITY ALWAYS LEAVE OUT GOD. Liars and deceivers ignore God's interest in their life, God's knowledge of their plans and schemes and the execution of them. And in their apparently untroubled doing without God these men and their actions become most hurtful stumbling-blocks to many tender souls, such as that most pure and deep thinker Asaph — or the man who wrote psalms for his use, who mourned over the wicked that they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High? Behold these are the ungodly who prosper in the world; they increase in riches." Such sin is either a practical ignoring of God altogether, atheism in daily action and business (which is much more pernicious than atheism of intellect), or it is a defaming and insulting of God's omniscience.
II. ONE SIN, ONE LIE, MAKES OTHERS EASIER AND WORSE. The lie came from him easily and readily: for he had prepared himself beforehand, and the lie he had told to Naaman trained him to insult, by deceiving, his master. The way to perdition is downhill, on a slippery way, with a descent that is ever quickening.
III. GEHAZI'S EXPOSURE AND SHAME come now before us. How soon the scheme came to an end, and such an end! How soon the bubble burst! Gehazi had deceived Naaman and had gotten his money, but he had misled himself much more.
IV. ELISHA'S PATRIOTISM CRIED OUT AGAINST GEHAZI'S SIN.
V. GEHAZI PIERCED THROUGH WITH MANY SORROWS. He had sought his good here; but with Naaman's money he got his leprosy, too. The blessing of the Syrian became the curse of the servant of the man of God.
(G. B. Ryley.)I. WE HAVE HERE COVETOUSNESS SEEKING TO MAKE GAIN OF A CONNECTION WITH GOODNESS. Gehazi was the servant of Elisha. It was surely no small privilege to be an attendant upon the prophet of God, — to be brought into such close connection with a man so good and holy. One might have supposed that he could scarcely help feeling the influence of Elisha. Now, covetousness of any kind is bad enough; but covetousness hanging on the skirts of goodness, — covetousness taking advantage of some outward connection with religion, and even with unselfishness, — this is surely one of the lowest forms of vice. Oh, it is a fearful thing when a man comes to value his religious reputation chiefly as a portion of his stock-in-trade.
II. WE HAVE HERE COVETOUSNESS LEADING ON TO FALSEHOOD AND THEFT.
III. WE HAVE HERE COVETOUSNESS HINDERING THE PROGRESS OF THE DIVINE KINGDOM. Like a true prophet as he was, Elisha was seeking to advance the kingdom of God. He cared far more for the extension of Jehovah's name and the promotion of Jehovah's glory than for his own advantage. If he magnified his prophetic office and stood on his honour, it was that, through him, Jehovah might be honoured. This was no doubt the secret of his treatment of Naaman.
(T. J. Finlayson.)
Homiletic Magazine.I. THE DECEPTION PRACTISED. Naaman was proceeding on his way, thoughtful, grateful, prayerful, hopeful, joyful. He is overtaken by Gehazi, who, unknown to his master, asks a gift of him. After all Gehazi's profession and all his religious opportunities, who would have expected such action? Influences of pious homes, etc., are sometimes all lost. The secret of Gehazi's action was covetousness. This is a rock on which many split. Gehazi thinks of all Naaman is taking back, and of his willingness to make the prophet a present. He regrets the loss of an opportunity of gain. He longs for the silver, etc. He resolves to seek for it. It is dangerous to parley with temptation. Unobserved, as he supposes, by the prophet, he pursues after Naaman. Unheard, as he supposes, by the prophet, he tells his story.
II. THE DECEPTION SUCCEEDING; that is, for the time, and so far as regards the obtaining of that for which he asked, and more than he asked for. Naaman pauses, descends from his chariot, kindly inquires after the prophet's welfare, listens to Gehazi's application, grants all he sought and more. Note the confidence, the artlessness, the unsuspiciousness of a young convert to the faith of the God of Israel. He cannot suppose a prophet's servant could be guilty of a falsehood. Men expect much of those who profess godliness; guilty indeed are they who, by disappointing such expectations, cast a stumbling-block in the way of young believers (Matthew 18:6). Gehazi obtains his desire; but how does he feel as he returns to his master?
III. THE DECEPTION DETECTED. Ver. 24, "When he came to the tower." In the Revised Version that reads — "When he came to the hill"; probably the hill brow from which he could see his master's house, and where his master, therefore, might possibly see him, he then hid his ill-got treasure. He did not think of that eye that over sees (Psalm 139:1-12; Jeremiah 23:1. 24). Could he think to hide from the prophet, of the Lord that which he had done? He did so think; but it was not hidden (vers. 25, 26). He thought he had managed all very cleverly!... Deception led to falsehood; it often does. Yet only ultimately to increase the shame of detection. "Be sure thy sin will find thee out."
IV. THE DECEPTION PUNISHED. Shortlived is the prosperity of the wicked. If Gehazi will have Naaman's treasure, he shall have Naaman's leprosy.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(H. O. Mackey.)
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