2 Kings 5:20-27
In the opening sentences of last chapter, we compared the new life, natural and spiritual, infused into the restored warrior, to the revitalization of the earth, when, coming forth from her "winter dormitory," she assumes her robes of spring, and all outer Nature, with its song-burst and flower-burst, participates in a common joy. In the verses, however, which are now to occupy our thoughts, that bright spring sky is suddenly overcast; and we have to watch an unexpected cloud passing over the landscape. We seem almost to wish that the touching story of the Aramean general, so complete and unique in itself up to this point, had closed here without any supplementary incident—that the curtain had fallen as the Syrian caravan begins to move on its homeward way, and the good Prophet has poured his benediction on the head of its chief.
Yet, too, ever and anon, with divine wisdom, does the Bible in its inspired narratives, by some 'qualifying statements'—some 'somber touches' in its pictures, keep before us the memories and evidences of "a present evil world," and of the spirit that still "rules in the children of disobedience." Amid its notes of sweetest music, there steal, as if at measured intervals, strains of disharmony and dissonance, to remind us that the heart—yes, even the heart that has been molded and disciplined by godly and godlike influences, is "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9).
We are mostly accustomed, doubtless, in pacing the sacred sculpture-gallery, to contemplate its spiritual heroes—elevated characters, who present us with a lofty ideal of the saintly and spiritual life. But, intermingled here and there, as if to impart value by contrast, we have specimens also of the depraved, the demoralized, the "devilish"—those who seem haunted and victimized by degraded vice and demon passion—"lewd fellows of the baser sort," who have "given themselves over to a reprobate mind," and broken loose alike from the restraints of conscience and the laws of God. Such is the iron visage, on its gloomy pedestal, we are called on now to confront amid his nobler compeers.
The case of GEHAZI is one of not a few, which unfolds to us what the human spirit would be, were it uncurbed and uncontrolled by restraining grace. It utters one of the many warning voices heard from the gates of Eden onwards—"When you think you stand, take heed lest you fall." If the topics suggested in our preceding chapters have been mainly profitable for our "instruction in righteousness," this closing one embraces more especially lessons of "rebuke and correction." While in Naaman, we have had a favorable representative of character (molded by divine influences) occupying a high social position; we have had in the little captive maid, as well as in the warrior's own camp-servants, equally favorable specimens of those in the opposite pole of the social system. Beautiful and attractive, indeed, up to this point, is the picture of the mutual relation subsisting between master and servants. But in Gehazi—the new study which arrests our attention, we have, alas! as sad an illustration as could be furnished, whether in truth or fiction, of an unprincipled and untrustworthy dependant—one who conformed to no one requirement in the triple code of the prophet Micah—neither "doing justly, nor loving mercy, nor walking humbly with God."
If Abraham's steward, old Eleazar of Damascus, as a faithful, conscientious servant, had left still a fragrant name and memory in the city of his birth, not perhaps unknown to Naaman—here was another, a child of Abraham, a steward also in a holy household, but all unworthy of his pedigree—a withered branch of the stock of Israel, dishonoring the parent stem, "twice dead, plucked up by the roots"—and who, in the same ancient capital, could hardly fail to have his own dreadful memorial in all time to come, as having made himself the unfortunate heir to the leprosy of the great Syrian soldier.
The story, so familiar in itself, may be briefly
There is no time to be lost. Down he steals from the wooded height, unobserved, as he thought, by the unsuspicious Prophet. With fleet foot he follows the caravan. Naaman at once perceives and recognizes him. We are struck with the incidental touch of 'courtesy' in the highborn Syrian (is it not one of the first-fruits of his newborn nature? the first sacrifice of the humble spirit?) It was but a few hours before, when, in his pride, he scorned to descend from his chariot at the door of Elisha—now he leaps down from it to receive his benefactor's servant! He had been possibly impressed, during his brief stay at Gilgal, with the devotion and sincerity of these sons of the prophets, of whom Gehazi was one—and he offers this expression of respect. "Is everything all right?" is the brief question with which he addresses the young messenger who now draws breath at the side of his chariot—"Is everything all right?" he asks with anxiety, for he is fearful that some sudden disaster had in the meantime overtaken the man of God.
With calm composure, the response is ready and given—"All is well." But his hot haste demands explanation; and this, too, is volunteered in the shape of an ingenious lie, so readily improvised, that we think it abundantly proves the utterer to be already adept in lying. The fabrication was this—that two young men from the prophetical school on Mount Ephraim, had unexpectedly arrived at his master's house with a tale of impoverishment and need. To relieve the necessities of these two imaginary students, the sordid petitioner solicits, in Elisha's name, some of the treasure which he had so lately declined. Naaman, with no thought of trickery, is only too willing to manifest his gratitude. In accordance with the words addressed to a Gentile of a later age, and one in spirit not unlike himself, he takes the bread intended for the true children, and casts it to dogs (Matt. 15:26).
In the generosity of his nature, he insists on doubling the amount of silver. Not only so, but two Syrian servants are told off to transport the goodly gift in safety. When they had reached the hill—some hiding-place near the Prophet's dwelling—the nefarious treasure is artfully concealed by Gehazi, and the Syrian transporters are quietly dismissed; for the cunning and politic finishing-touch is added in the narrative—"He sent the men away, and they departed."
To all appearance this first part of the plot has succeeded to perfection. Not only is the spoil secured, but, better than all, the arch-plotter flatters himself he has quietly got rid of the only witnesses who could incriminate him, and that he has successfully eluded Elisha's detection. With brazen face, unabashed effrontery, "he went in," we read, "and stood before his master." The Prophet, in common with noble natures, was himself open, generous, ingenuous, transparent—never, probably, would Elisha have dreamed of such possibilities of treachery. But the divine voice which had on other occasions whispered in his ear more joyful communications, had apprized him of the present baseness and treachery.
Indignant that truth, and the God of truth, should be thus wantonly insulted and compromised, yet without any of the vehemence of resentment which the deed and moment, we might think, would have justified—he puts the question to the deceiver, "Where have you been, Gehazi?" Gehazi was, however, is still equal to the occasion. And to face the suddenness of the query, another lie is ready as an auxiliary to its predecessor—"I haven't been anywhere." His injured master in a moment denounces and exposes the web of deceit so artfully weaved. He tells the false-hearted delinquent and knave, how, with penetrating glance, he had read his inmost thoughts and tracked his guilty footsteps—"Don't you realize that I was there in spirit when Naaman stepped down from his chariot to meet you?"
The scoundrel's mouth is closed—the withering words fall like a flash of scathing lightning upon him—"Because you have done this, you and your children and your children's children will suffer from Naaman's leprosy forever!"
What a change! The culprit had entered the familiar door reveling in the success of his iniquity—the future gleaming with visions of ease, luxury, and independence. In a moment the mirage is dissolved! Through the same portals he goes forth as if smitten by an avenging angel, like another Cain with the brand of infamy upon him—"a leper as white as snow." Truly, says the Preacher, "The getting of treasures by a lying tongue, is a vanity tossed to and fro of those who seek death" (Prov. 21:6).
Let us endeavor to gather a few of the lessons with which this final scene in the narrative is replete.
1.Let us note the danger of unimproved and abused spiritual privileges. Gehazi's religious advantages, in all probability, began at a date prior to the time and mission of Elisha. One tradition speaks of him as the boy who sped at the bidding of the Elijah Tishbite to the top of Carmel, to watch the rising of the expected cloud over the Mediterranean, precursive of the longed-for rain. This, at all events, we know, that seven years previous to Naaman's pilgrimage, he was the witness of Elisha's greatest miracle, when he brought back the Shunamite's son to life. Doubtless, during these intermediate years, he had seen many other signs and wonders authenticating his master's divine call. He had mingled with the youths—his own contemporaries and fellow-students—in the college of the prophets—and, above all, in common with them, and more than them—he had been the privileged eye-witness of the pure, exalted character and consistent walk of his honored superior.
He might well have had his own life molded by the silent influence of so bright and godlike an example. Is it too much to imagine, that in their solitary journeys from village to village, traversing frequently the whole extent of the Holy Land, from Carmel to the Jordan, they had ofttimes sung together the same Psalm, and united in the same prayer—that words of holy counsel were ever and anon dropped from the lips of the prophet, into the ears of his younger attendant? Something of the feeling which, in an older generation, Eli cherished for the child Samuel—or the later feeling which Paul cherished for his son Timothy—must this foster-father have entertained for the companion of his long and varied labors. The good Prophet possibly may have even hoped that the mantle of true prophetical succession, which had dropped on his own shoulders from the hands of Elijah, would be transferred to this "son in the faith," when his time also arrived to be gathered to his fathers.
But, like Judas under a greater and diviner Master, the disciple of Elisha becomes a renegade and traitor in the midst of rarest privilege. And alike awfully sudden and humiliating is his fall. We cannot believe that such a scheming of crime was a mere impromptu act, the result of unpremeditated impulse—as if some spirit from the abyss had its first grapple with a hitherto pure and holy soul, and carried it by one fierce assault. We suspect, as has already been indicated—that the adder must have been for long nestling and nurturing in his bosom—biding its time. The process of heart-hardening had been, it may be slowly and imperceptibly, but too surely progressing.
What we shall immediately find was his master-passion, gathered to its aid others that became willing accomplices and abettors. All unknown to the trustful Prophet, Gehazi had probably become restless and ill at ease under his life of enforced poverty, devotion, and self-denial; and when the tempting prize is within reach, and the guilty resolve is taken, he scruples at no means to gain his end. Who could for a moment have dreamt, that that privileged attendant of the holiest man of his age, was carrying, under an assumed guise, a demon's depravity, such as would have been spurned and repudiated by the lowliest camel-driver in Naaman's retinue.
Alas! however, such is a mournful fact—that no fall is so low and so fearful as the fall of a man "once enlightened," and who has "tasted of the heavenly gift." No fall into sin is so dreadful as the apostasy on the part of one who has "tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come." None is so rapidly and mournfully demoralized as the Prodigal who has gone to the far country, resolved to stifle early conviction, to be oblivious of mother's prayers, and father's counsels, and summons of church bell. O saddest of all catastrophes, when "the end of those things is death!" The same sun which, in the case of a healthy though leafless tree, evokes by its warming beams latent life, when it shines on the noxious pool or stagnant pond, only elicits and diffuses corruption. The religious training and pious fellowship which softens and ameliorates the docile, teachable heart; if abused and rejected—will only serve to stir up the natural, innate tendencies of evil. Mournful experience testifies, that it is not familiarity with divine themes, nor communion with devout people, which can insure a holy walk and consecrated life. On the contrary—unless God's grace be given and superadded, a man may, like Gehazi, be slumbering at the foot of a Bethel-ladder traversed with angels and music with heavenly voices, and yet be dreaming and scheming baseness, villainy, and fraud—his mouth full of cursing and bitterness—the way of peace unknown—ready at any moment when the temptation comes—to rush "against the thick bosses" of the Almighty's "shield."
Indeed, this intimate familiarity with spiritual matters, unless watchfully guarded, may have a tendency rather to diminish their effect on life and practice; engendering unconcern—culminating, it may even be, in cheerless unbelief. It has been well said, that if the mortician—constantly surrounded with mementos of dissolution—is liable (just because habituated to the spectacle), to be least of all men impressed with the lessons of the grave, the uncertainties of life, the certainty of death, and the grandeur of immortality—it is the spiritually privileged—those breathing a holy atmosphere, and moving in the circle of holy influences, who have greatest need to cherish remembrance of the apostolic watchword, "By the grace of God I am what I am."
Those who have all these outer surroundings of pious home and Christian training faithful preaching and holy sacrament—temple-work and temple-life—who have stood, like Gehazi, at triumphant deathbeds, and watched departing souls, borne in the chariots of salvation, singing the hymns of Paradise—may have most need to prefer as their habitual prayer, "Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out" (Matt. 8:11, 12).
Let us write "Beware" on our seasons of loftiest privilege—and on our moments of highest inspiration. "Beware" of a spirit of indifference to divine things, harboring anything that would blunt the fine edge of conscience, and grieve the Holy Spirit of God; allowing religion to become a weariness; outwardly professing godliness—while inwardly in league with the world, the flesh, and the devil. If the path of destruction be once entered on, it is difficult to turn aside, or to retrace the upward way. How often those, who at first only allowed themselves a 'slight deflection' from duty, and who would, with a Hazael's scorn, resent the imputation of baser and fouler deeds, have gone on from weakness to weakness, until their bosoms have become a moral charnel-house—a hell of guilty passion, godless lust, and hopeless despair!
One of the saddest, if not the saddest of Bible utterances is this, "Ephraim"—(the loved—the trusted—the privileged—the "dear Son"—God's "pleasant child")—"Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone!"
2.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. As with the prophet of Nineveh, when he embarked in the opportune vessel at the port of Joppa, just sailing for Tarshish—everything seemed to promise and insure him success—the unsuspicious natures of the two principals, Elisha and Naaman—the long distance that would soon separate the warrior from the Prophet—so that suspicion, even if roused, would lack 'confirmation'—then the convenient hiding place, where the ill-gotten treasure was stowed away, among these limestone crags and their tufted thicket and herbage. The crafty plotter had nothing further to do, but to preserve his own look of naivety and innocence; and the first favoring moment (in the absence of his master, or at dead of night, when the other occupants of the dwelling were asleep), he might transfer the booty to some place of greater safety; disposing of the rich garments, in exchange for gold, to the first traveling caravan of merchants he would meet on the way to Philistia or Egypt, and investing the silver in the purchase of sheep and oxen, vineyard and oliveyard, in one of the fertile glens of Ephraim.
Yes, the luxurious, independent future is all pleasantly mapped out before him. He sees himself the owner of an estate; barns built, granaries stored, abundance laid up for many years; servants and slaves reaping his corn, pressing his grapes, and serving his table; his life, too, of leisure and luxury.
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 lives!"—that there is an eye above, keener to detect than that of warrior or prophet—that the true God of heaven has, employed in His service, retributive agents, swifter than the heathen's avenging furies, who dog the heels of crime, and do not allow the world to forget the old warning, "Be sure your sin will find you out!" "If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me" (Ps. 139:8-10).
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 skeptic conclusions on this patience of the Most High, in thinking Him "altogether such an one as themselves"—"The Lord does not see, neither does the God of Jacob regard" (Ps. 94:7). If, however, there be in the present state, exceptions to this great retributive law in God's moral economy—if the theft, or lie, or deed of darkness perpetrated under cloud of night, escapes detection—there is a day coming when every such Gehazi will be brought to stand naked in the presence of the Great Heart-Searcher, and the truth become a stereotyped reality in the next—"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 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 taken—a garment of dreadful import, which in a terrible sense shall "not wear out"—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 whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap!"
3.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 greater number increases 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 hisCOVETOUSNESS. Avarice was the besetting sin of his nature—the prolific parent of all the others. He was among the last, indeed, who ought to have succumbed to it. What position, one might have thought, more favored—more to be envied, than his? It was angel-work, surely—that to be the confidant and associate of Jehovah's greatest living prophet; away from the din and turmoil and sin of busy cities; free from the cares and anxieties of a coarse, secular calling—living in an atmosphere of holy and blissful seclusion—yet no unnatural, hermit life either; but alternating devotion and study, with active work in his often-journeyings to and from Carmel, along with him whose delight, like that of a Greater, seems to have been "going about doing good." What a school for faith, and love, and charity—the nurture of generous thought and philanthropic deed!
But an enemy came and sowed tares in that promising field—the furrows too readily received the accursed seed, and the crop of covetousness choked the better and nobler portion. For some pieces of silver and a few costly garments, he, who might have been faithful to death as the loyal servant of the man of God, sold his honored birthright, and stooped to a deed of unparalleled lowliness. Come and read on the tomb of one whose name might otherwise have had its place on the roll of Hebrew worthies—"For the iniquity of his covetousness was I angry—and smote him!" (Isa. 57:17)
2. But the motive-power of covetousness roused into action other depraved, and, until now, slumbering forces. We have to note next, hisUNTRUTHFULNESS. 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."
In rushing after Naaman's chariot, he accomplishes his robbery and pillage by means of a brazen falsehood—a plausible, ingenious story; and then, on returning with cool effrontery to the presence of his master, the unexpected questioning to which he is subjected, only serves to elicit another denial. When he went in to his master, Elisha asked him, "Where have you been, Gehazi?" "I haven't been anywhere," he replied. 2 Kings 5:25
Among the diverse and multiform ranks of evil-doers in our fallen humanity, there are none more degraded and hopeless than those recruited by the liar. From most other sins there is ever the possibility of emancipation and recovery; but in the case of the 'traitor to truth', conscience gets debauched and demoralized, and the moral perceptions blunted. Add to this, the convicted soon awake to the discovery, that through their unreliable words and ways, their worldly reputation and character become irreparably injured and impaired. How scrupulously should we seek to "buy the truth, and to sell it not!"
Under how many specious forms and counterfeits is the beauty and purity of this "pearl of character" disfigured, by the artful equivocation—the mental reservation—the circuitous policy—the disingenuous intrigue—the trick of trade—the gilded compliment—the fashionable apology—the polished evasion—the unmanly insinuation—the bold exaggeration!
Ah, beautiful virgin Truth! when shall we see you, arrayed in your pure white garments, lighting your vestal fires in this treacherous, unreliable, overreaching world? There is a noble ring in your voice which cannot be mistaken—truth of word, truth of character, transparency of conduct—"the true life." Among the many messages needed, in a degenerate age, to be with trumpet-tongue proclaimed from press and pulpit, none is more urgent than that suggested by the Apostle's text—"Therefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor."
God is emphatically the God of Truth—"A God of truth, and without iniquity; just and right is He." Gehazi—and not only Gehazi, but his children's children—"his descendants forever," would be a perpetual standing commentary in Israel of the Psalmist's denunciation—"You hate all the workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak lying. The Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man" (Ps. 5:6).
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 still further, hisHYPOCRISY. Bad enough and base enough was the nefarious lie; but the guilt of it was specially aggravated by his 'pretending better things'. Had he been untrained and untutored in higher duties—a rough mountaineer, who did mere manual drudgery and labor of hewing wood and drawing water for the school at Gilgal—or had Elisha unwittingly taken into his household service, one of the moral waifs—the pests and scum of society, that doubtless haunted Judean towns and villages as they do our own—we could not have so wondered at his becoming the prey of sudden and great temptation, and even fencing round his bold sin by a bolder falsehood.
But he was, as we have seen, for a long course of years, the trusted and disciplined attendant of the man of God—with whom he had constantly mingled in religious and solemn duty, and borne the staff and mantle of the prophetical office—no, if we mistake not, himself one of the sons of the prophets—an aspirant to the sacred calling. He doubtless could not fail to be well known throughout all Israel. The calm and stately demeanor of the gentle Elisha could not be hidden from the youth who traveled at his side, and sped on his errands of mercy. What a shock to this kind-hearted master, when, all in a moment, his eyes were opened to the base, sordid, grasping, lying ways of him who had given proof and promise of other and better things—who had abused his confidence—wounded his unsuspecting nature—compromised his integrity in the sight of Naaman—done his best to brand him with having as shrewd an eye to his own interests as the most avaricious slave in heathen Syria, or the most mercenary, time-serving priest in Rimmon's Temple.
This deceit and trickery, in Gehazi's case, was double treason before high heaven. He was the Old Testament parallel—the living counterpart, of the 'withered fig-tree' on the road to Bethany, which received the dreadful doom from the lips of 'injured Truth'—not so much because it was a fruitless cumberer, as because it was a base pretender. If it had been content with the avowal of its barrenness—extending its 'bare' stems like skeleton—mere arms in the midst of that fig-grove—it would, in all probability, have been passed without comment. But it mocked the eye of the spectator with deceitful foliage; appearing as if it had gratefully yielded to the influences of spring suns, and dews, and rains—an attractive rustling sheen—but hid no fruit behind. The malediction falls upon it—the blasted, withered leaves next day strew the turf of Olivet. The miracle stands forth in sacred story, the one solitary act of doom in Christ's ministry of love—"Let no fruit henceforth grow upon you forever."—"How soon is the fig-tree withered away!"
Significant picture of the hypocrite—the base alloy that would pass itself off for pure gold—the false life that mimics and counterfeits the true—like the sprinkling of virgin snow that covers treacherous pit or festering corruption—the man of saintly appearance, who, like Gehazi, utters his perjury—"swears to his own hurt," under the garb of religious pretension and sanctimonious profession—a wretched actor on the stage of unreality, who even makes these artificial disguises auxiliaries in accomplishing vile intrigue; and base, worldly schemes. No sin so heinous as this.
It has often been noted that our Divine Redeemer, in His discourses and sayings in the days of His flesh, had words of kindness, encouragement, and mercy to the very publicans and harlots—the lowest dregs of the Jewish population. The greatest outcast from purity, was allowed to kiss His feet, and bedew them with tears. The one class for whom He has nothing but withering words—on whom He discharges arrows of wrath, and judgment, and woe—are "pharisees! hypocrites!"
But we shall not close this series of meditations with so gloomy a theme as the stern lessons derived from the contemplation of a vicious and vitiated life. We shall rather take one parting glimpse at that cavalcade vanishing from sight amid the mountains of Ephraim, with the two strange loads of earth borne in its midst—the warrior-chief and his entourage, perhaps, together waking the echoes of the valleys through which they pass with songs of grateful praise.
We might have wished to know the sequel of that striking history. It would have interested us to have had further described Naaman's return to the old capital—his entrance within 'the Gate of God'—his meeting with his glad and wondering household—his tribute of special gratitude to the little Hebrew maid—his ministering angel—in whose case later prophetic words had a remarkable fulfillment—"The feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them" (Zech. 12:8)—the erection of the earthen altar, close, it may be, by the Abana, whose musical stream would now recall other and more hallowed river-memories. May we not even picture the rejoicing proselyte as High Priest in his own dwelling, gathering his family around the pile of consecrated dust, singing the new hymn of his adopted faith and trust—"God is the Lord, who has showed us light. Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. Oh, give thanks unto the Lord—for He is good; for His mercy endures forever!" (Ps. 118:27-29)
On Naaman's future, however, the sacred narrative is silent; and it is not for us to attempt to lift the veil and indulge in conjecture. Doubtless he would come to know, that the new and higher life on which he had entered, purchases no exemption from struggle and conflict and fierce temptation—that all who live godly must suffer persecution—that his altar, with its holy earth, would in itself be no charm against the corruptions of his own heart and the wiles of the Great Adversary—that though he had returned among the mountains of Lebanon no longer the blinded pagan he had left them, there were still in their midst, in a truer and more perilous than literal sense, "lions' dens and mountains of leopards." Let us hope and believe that he lived and died, another Daniel in Babylon; maintaining a consistent and unsullied character; against whom neither the votaries of Rimmon nor the courtiers of Benhadad could bring any weightier accusation than in the case of the other—"Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the requirements of his religion." (Dan. 6:5).
We can with greater confidence picture Naaman, now, "on the other side Jordan"—within the Gate of God—in "the city which has foundations;" made "more than conqueror"—his old name invested with a new celestial meaning—"beautified with salvation"—singing, in concert with the multitude which no man can number, "the new song"—even the song of the crowned victors who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb—"Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father—to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever" (Rev. 1:5, 6).
While, in the case of Gehazi, we have the toll of a warning bell beckoning us off the rocks in life's treacherous sea; in Naaman—who by better than any earthly title or earthly promotion was "Captain of the Lord's host"—we have a bright beacon-light shining on the heavenly shore, and inviting us to cast anchor in the same sheltering haven. That great salvation—which, through the symbol of washing in the waters of Israel, was so free to him—is equally free to us. There are chimes stealing down from the upper sanctuary, sounding in our ears the glorious invitation and welcome—"Whoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." The same benediction breathed upon him, is breathed upon us—a benediction proceeding from the lips of ONE mightier than Hebrew Prophet, and who surrendered His own life that He might have a right to utter it—"Go in peace!" Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives!" (John 14:27)