So Naaman told the king what the young girl from Israel had said. "Go and visit the prophet," the king told him. "I will send a letter of introduction for you to carry to the king of Israel." So Naaman started out, taking as gifts 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing. The letter to the king of Israel said: "With this letter I present my servant Naaman. I want you to heal him of his leprosy." When the king of Israel read it, he tore his clothes in dismay and said, "This man sends me a leper to heal! Am I God, that I can kill and give life? He is only trying to find an excuse to invade us again." 2 Kings 5:4-7
"I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy!" 2 Kings 5:3
This artless child-utterance opens an unexpectedly door of hope to the diseased and despairing hero, and puts a new guiding-star into his midnight of darkness.
Who that has witnessed can ever forget the occasion, as relatives are gathered around some couch of sickness, where the sands of dear life are fast running out—the pulse feebly ebbing, the parched lips and languid eye proclaiming too surely that the Valley is at hand—when suddenly there occurs a change for the better; the signs are observed of returning animation; the sinking strength rallies and revives; and anxious ears listen to the soft whisper that passes from the physician's lips—"There is hope!" Or who that has been out in a storm at sea, the waves running mountains high, the tempest roaring through the shrouds, the bravest and manliest abandoning themselves to blank despair—who can ever forget that moment, when the contending elements, as if weary and worn with conflict, listen to the mandate, "Peace, be still!" Anon, the wind changes; there is a break in the troubled sky, and the helmsman, lifting his voice amid the moanings of the blast, announces the joyful tidings, "Out of danger!"
Akin to such feelings must have been the emotions of the Syrian chief, as this young ministering angel of hope, in the guise of a domestic slave, drops these strange, mysterious, scarcely credible balm-words of comfort. And such, too, but in a far more intensified form, are the feelings of every soul, when it passes from a condition of danger and peril and death, into a state of peace and safety and life—when, "dwelling in darkness and in the shadow of death," it first catches up the music of that divine message—"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy!" "There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." "Whoever believes on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
Yes; blessed be God, these and similar declarations are addressed to every spiritual leper in this sin-stricken world—to all the diverse crowd in its leper-house of morally diseased, whatever their circumstances or social position; whether clothed in luxury or in rags; whether, like Naaman, having "the boast of nobility, the pomp of power," or their only birthright, that of poverty. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." As with the warrior of Damascus, so with them—they have a gracious "invitation," a "letter of commendation" to the King of kings. There is a Greater than the greatest Prophet in Israel, who can "recover them of their leprosy."
We may pause for a moment to note, in the case of her master, what we have already done in the preceding chapter in connection with the story of the little captive servant—that God works by means. He might, if it pleased Him, perform His will and sovereign behests immediately; but He does it mediately—by methods, sometimes complex, sometimes simple. He might, by a verbal mandate, have demolished the walls of Jericho; but He appointed the instrumentality of the Ark procession, the blast of rams' horns, and the shout of the soldiers. He might at once have routed the hosts of Midian in the Valley of Jezreel; and with the breath of His mouth scattered them as chaff before the whirlwind. But He commanded His elect hero to employ the similar instrumentality of pitchers and lamps, trumpet-soundings, and battle-cry.
We may wonder, indeed, at first sight, what was the cause of so cumbrous and protracted a plan for effecting the leper's cure, as is here described to us—what the object and necessity of preparing these chariots and horsemen, these bags of gold, and changes of clothing; subjecting the sufferer to a long and tedious journey across the northern passes of Palestine, through the forests and villages of Naphtali and Ephraim. Why not rather send the Prophet of healing to the palace of Damascus? or, easier still, let the Jehovah of Israel exercise His own supreme prerogative, and the glow of health would in a moment thrill through the hero's veins. As with the slave of another pagan soldier in later times, He had only to "speak the word," and he would have been made whole.
In addition, however, to its being His customary and normal method of operation, God had special reasons, in the case of Naaman, for the employment of such varied instrumentality—He was desirous of manifesting His power in the sight of a whole people. The omnipotent utterance would have been sufficient for the leper's own cure; some delegated messenger from heaven might easily have been sent to that solitary chamber on the mission of restoration, and the recovered warrior thus have been brought to recognize the divine sovereignty.
But the Great Being, "who works all things after the counsel of His will," would have the captive Hebrew maid become a preacher to Naaman's nation. He would magnify His own name in the eyes of Syria—yes, and in the eyes too of disloyal and degenerate Israel, who had been lapsing year after year into an entire apostasy. The military cavalcade is mustered. The Aramite princes and heathen priests may laugh it to scorn—they may smile at the credulity of their chief, thus giving heed to the sayings of a slave-girl—selling himself, even more ignominiously than a brother chieftain of a former age, into a female's hands (Judges 4:9); but he is before long to head that returning procession back in triumph, the mountain-passes of Hermon and Lebanon resounding with song—"This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (Ps. 34:6). "They cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their bands in sunder. Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" (Ps. 107:13-15).
But to proceed with the verses placed at the head of this chapter.
1. Naaman's first impulse, before setting out on his journey, was to go and tell the King—"So Naaman told the king what the young girl from Israel had said." (ver. 4). Before he can adopt the suggestion of the young Hebrew, he feels it his duty, though the most exalted of Benhadad's subjects, to go to his sovereign, make him acquainted with his design, and receive the royal sanction.
This reads us the preliminary lesson, regarding even the minor, ordinary, everyday details of life—to be careful in observing its proprieties and courtesies. "Be courteous"—"Let all things be done decently and in order," are alike moral and religious obligations. No one was bolder and braver, had a loftier sense of independence or a profounder scorn of hollow conventionalities, than the Great Apostle of the Gentiles. Yet see his Christian etiquette—his refined and delicate consideration for the rights and feelings, it might be even prejudices of others, illustrated in that beautiful Epistle to Philemon—the epistle which has so well been designated "the letter of the Christian gentleman."
Rudeness and boorishness, lack of respect for seniors and superiors, proud self-assertion and presumptuous dogmatism, especially in youth, are as much opposed to the spirit of the gospel as anger and wrath. The believer has been likened to an anagram which is capable of being read up and down—every way, and in all lights. Moreover, we believe it will generally be found that the manliest and noblest are the most courteous. It is the vulgar, the upstart, the shallow thinker, who is the self-willed and presuming—who crosses and violates the civilities of life, and refuses to concede "honor to whom honor is due."
In the case and conduct of Naaman, whose position might have tended to nurture other feelings, we have a pleasing instance, alike of the soldier's chivalrous obligation of duty to his king, and the citizen's deference to his superior, when, on the first blush of this strange pilgrimage, on so strange an errand—"So Naaman told the king."
But is there not also a higher spiritual lesson here for the Christian in his hour of difficulty and peril? When environed with perplexing paths and providences, and at a loss which to follow, swaying between the opposing forces of inclination and duty, may he not—ought he not, like Naaman, to resort to to the King of kings—"So Naaman told the king!" of what is burdening his spirit? How important before embarking, like the Syrian chief, on any arduous undertaking, deciding on any important enterprise of life, to spread out our case before God, and bring our doubts and perplexities to the test of prayer. Let a skeptic world in these days deride and dispute, as it may, the efficacy of such petitions; those who have had personal experience in the past of the divine guidance and direction, know the blessedness of access to the Throne of Grace—the assuring touch of the Golden Scepter—whether it be in deciding on a profession, or in entering on some new opening of business, or in emigrating to the distant colony, or in forming the marriage relation. They know how alike sacred is the duty, and how comforting the privilege, of repairing to the presence-chamber of the Great King in heaven, and saying, "Lord, what will YOU have me to do?"
If others there are whose plans and purposes are unsanctioned and unsanctified by prayer—who, unlike the Father of the Faithful, pitch their tents before they pitch their altars—who enter on duties and form connections without once seeking Heaven's blessing; those who are "taught of God" know how differently they can brace themselves for life's journey and pilgrimage, for crossing its Hermons, traversing its valleys of Achor and Baca, if they have listened to the inviting voice, "Come with ME from Lebanon, with ME from Lebanon."
If the altar were erected first, and then the tent, how many tears and trials might afterwards be saved! Look at Lot, in his selection of the well-watered plains of Sodom. In the resolve of that moment of impulse, he took no heed—no account, of his soul's best interests. He came not to the choice direct from his bended knees. He rushed with a carnal spirit down to the rich pasture-lands and luxurious capital. And what was the result? A life of insult; mocking for himself—worldliness for his family; linked to an ungodly partner—his daughters married to the vile and degraded; his home at last a mass of charred ruins; his wife a calcified pillar; his own old age blackened with unparalleled infamy. Had he sought the Lord's will at that memorable hour, when he stood with his patriarch-uncle on the heights of the future Bethel, surveying the land he had in his choice, he might have been guided to a decision that would have rescued his name from degradation and shame. But, the divine blessing unsolicited, he ventured on the brink of temptation—He was "a brand" "in the burning;" the mercy of his God alone plucked him from it, and made his spiritual history—the epitaph on his tomb—to be this—"Saved, yet so as by fire!" (1 Cor. 3:15).
2. Observe Naaman's departure and journey."So," we read, "Naaman started out" (ver. 5). His promptitude, in the true soldier-spirit of instant surrender to duty—"Go, and he goes," is noteworthy. No sooner does he hear the proposal of the young Hebrew maid, than he immediately takes measures to reach the Prophet in Israel. There are no delays, no questionings, no procrastination. Had he given way to such, the project would in all likelihood have been rejected and abandoned. Insuperable obstacles would have presented themselves. The length of the road; reasons of policy and state; the humiliation involved in a great Syrian warrior going to seek a favor at the hands of a Hebrew prophet; the ridicule such an expedient might bring upon him among his own countrymen—more than all, the utter hopelessness of such a pilgrimage. The disease had advanced too far—it had baffled the best skill in Damascus—it was known to be incurable.
But he confers neither with himself nor with others. No sooner is the possibility of a remedy mentioned, than he grasps, like a drowning man—this rope that has been unexpectedly thrown for his rescue. The proximity of the Hebrew territories must have doubtless made him familiar with the miracles accomplished by the hand of the prophets of Jehovah. He believed that what had been done in the case of others, could be done in his; and strong in faith—giving glory to a God yet unknown to him, except by name, this Gentile stranger leaps into his chariot, and pursues his way. We feel already sure it will be a prosperous mission. When conviction passes into resolution, and resolution still farther into action, the battle is always more than half won. As we see the train of horses, servants, and chariots winding through the passes of the Lebanon, we feel that this moral hero has already obtained his double conquest, and that we shall in due time hail him as a monument of mercy and grace!
How unlike the case of many in spiritual things; who stagger through unbelief; allowing solemn warning and conviction to pass unheeded—conjuring up to themselves some supposed necessity for postponement and delay—resolving to set out on the pilgrimage at some time, but "not yet"—imagining the chariots and horses of salvation to be at their call whenever they wish, and their malignant leprosy a thing that may be safely postponed for a deathbed cure. As Naaman felt, so well may they—that restoration may be with them "now or never."
The king said to the sufferer, "By all means, go!" It is thus our Lord speaks. This is the Great Physician's prescription to the seeking soul—Wait not a moment—linger not in all the plain—confer not with any earthly adviser. Let the chariots be ordered. Hasten! flee for your life! "By all means, go!" for a long eternity is suspended on the resolve.
And yet, while we have thus abundant reason to admire and imitate the faith and promptitude, the boldness and tenacity of purpose in this half-enlightened heathen; let us merely advert, in passing, to what will be more specially noted by and by—how hard it is for the natural man to receive the salvation of the gospel as a FREE gift. We go not in the 'empty chariot of faith'; but we must take along with us our wagon-load of gifts and treasures to strengthen our claim, and to count as some equivalent, if not payment, for our cure. We go, as if the astounding spiritual gift—the unbought and unpurchasable blessings of the covenant, were to be obtained with money. Our query is that of the young man in gospel story, "What good thing shall I DO, that I may inherit eternal life?" (Matt. 19:16).
Brilliant and attractive as was the spectacle of all this gay company moving through the land of Israel, we would rather have seen Naaman sitting alone in his chariot (like the Ethiopian Treasurer of a future age), with nothing in his hand or in his bag, but "the King's letter."
Yes; how reluctant we are to resort to the great Heavenly Healer "just as we are"—needy bankrupts and beggars in His sight—saying, "Silver and gold have I none"—money and changes of clothing, good deeds and merits, gifts and attainments, virtues and amiabilities—I leave them all behind me in this pilgrimage of grace. I come with no mental, or material, or moral bribe in my chariot—I have nothing but this King's letter—this Bible, in which is written, as my title and passport, "The GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).
Naaman "started out." In order to give vividness to the unique story, we are tempted to allow rein to imagination, and endeavor to picture, in thought, that brilliant procession as it issues forth from the western gate of Damascus—the same gate, probably, which assumes at this day the somewhat imposing and high-sounding title of "THE GATE OF GOD." Conspicuous would be the chariot of the chief himself, the war-armor now replaced by some appropriate emblem of peace. Like all eastern cavalcades (and we may well believe specially on such an occasion as this), the royal caravan would comprise a vast retinue of servants, wearing their rich turbans and costly hats—with fine horses and camels and donkeys to convey tents and provender, with the already-mentioned gifts—ingots of gold and silver from the Treasure-house of the capital—and ten sets of the best clothing—holiday suits or state dresses of silk.
We may further imagine, that, as in most similar expeditions, in order to escape the intolerable midday heat, they would start at early morn, or rather while many of the brighter stars were lingering in the heavens. They have crossed the long level plain—the northern plain of the Sahara—athwart which the mists of night are still brooding, disclosing here and there the graceful tops of palm-trees, like floating islands in a lake of cloud. The sun is just beginning to light up the distant mountain peaks of "many-headed" Lebanon, and to tip the dewdrops gemming the tangled shrubs which line the way, as we see them commencing the long ascent by the stream of Pharpar up the flanks of Hermon. If Naaman had been in the habit of listening, in his Syrian home, to some of the songs of Zion on the lips of the Hebrew captive, he might now have appropriately transferred "the traveler's psalm" to his own circumstances, as the great border mountain rose high above them—"the tower of Lebanon which looks towards Damascus" (Sol. Song 7:4); "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Ps. 121:1, 2).
They have wound their way along the rugged steep—strewn doubtless then, as now, with fragments of black tar; and, crossing the watershed, begin to descend by the swift torrent of the Hasbeya river. The land of Israel is soon fully in view; already their eyes fall on places associated with illustrious deeds. The old walls of Hazor, which, with their military memories of Barak and Sisera, could not fail to be interesting to a warrior, are at their right—the plateau of Bashan is on their left—while the mountains of Naphtali and the more distant hills of Ephraim and Samaria lie between, and blend their summits with the horizon.
There are spots, too, close at hand, which in the future, are to receive a still holier consecration. Some height among those gigantic spurs or eminences, with the winter snow still visible in the crevices, was, in a far distant age, to form the scene of an incident of surpassing and unparalleled splendor, converting, for the time being, this "Hill of God" into the vestibule—the gate of heaven; for it was on this "high mountain" that the Lord of glory was in the days of His incarnation transfigured; when His face, and the very garments of those that were with Him, vied in brightness with the snow on the ridges above.
As they continued their descent, the green knolls and patches of pasture-ground are interspersed here and there with gigantic forest-trees and underwood—the haunt of the or the timid gazelle. They have now reached the base of the kingly mountain; pausing, perhaps, as is the custom of caravans to this hour, by the gushing fountain, around which, in subsequent times, rose the palaces of Caesarea, and where Herod, on a picturesque cliff, amid groves of olive and oak trees, erected a temple to Augustus. Leaving upon their left the ancient city and sanctuary of Dan, they would skirt the reedy jungle which borders the lake of Merom (the scene of Joshua's last battle with the confederate Canaanite chiefs), tapering tufts of papyrus, mingling with thickets of oleander and sycamore. Thence their route would lie, either along the course of the Jordan to the then secluded lake of Gennesaret, or, more probably, by the great western itinerary which led through the soft undulating hills which enshrined the Refuge city of Kedesh, the sanctuary and capital of its tribe—a city which doubtless then (as we venture from personal inspection to pronounce it now, in its desolation and ruin), must have been the most "beautiful for situation" and surroundings, among the towns of northern Palestine.
As they emerged from the park of oaks and terebinths which clothed the foot of Tabor, one place unseen, towards the right, nestling amid its green hills and oliveyards, would, to the Chief of the expedition, had he known its future, been of surpassing interest. For it was in the synagogue of NAZARETH that lips which "spoke as never a man spoke" mentioned him by his name—"Naaman the Syrian" (Luke 4:27). The Good Shepherd, whose mission was "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," there made personal reference to one of those "other sheep" not of His fold, "whom He was also to bring," and cause to "hear His voice"—the first fulfillment of the gracious words, "He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out." "I have called you by your name, you are mine" (John 10:3; Isa. 43:1).
They have now crossed the plain of Esdraelon, alike the great battlefield and granary of Palestine—the most extensive stretch of fertile land on which their eyes had rested since they left the gate of Damascus. Tabor, the Kishon, Gilboa, Jezreel, and other names familiar in Israelitish story, are around them, all bristling with warlike recollections. Similar remembrances there must have been also, though unrecorded in the sacred narrative, of scenes in which the leader of the band had been himself conspicuous. He must have been gazing on the very hill-tops which recently possessed a very different significance to him, when blazing with the watchfires of the hostile Hebrews. Strange must have been the thought, that he was now a humble suppliant in the very territories of those, with whom the soldiers at his side may have met, not long before, in deadly conflict—now a helpless patient and invalid, seeking the merciful aid of a Jewish prophet! Strange, too, must that brilliant equipage have seemed to the primitive villagers as it swept along—the chariot devoid of those hostile emblems with which, a short time previously, they had been so sadly familiar; neither bowman, nor spearman, nor armor-bearer; the servants only carrying weapons sufficient to protect the wagons which contained the regal presents—"750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing."
But, not to indulge in further conjectural detail; Naaman's pilgrimage has, in a higher metaphorical sense, a parallel and counterpart in the case of every true believer—the soul in its quest after God, and salvation, and peace. Various are the experiences of that journey, from the earliest hours of struggle and disquietude, when first brought face to face with the unsolved problems of death and what is after death—when the reality and virulence of the 'spiritual leprosy' is revealed, for which no earthly remedy is adequate—onwards to the time, when, at the cross of Christ, and in the revelation of the Father's love in Him, feverish unrest is quieted, and the inquiry of aching spirits is answered—"What must I do to be saved?" Happy they, who in the chariot of faith have been led to undertake that momentous journey which is at last to end with the outburst of praise for "salvation found"—"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that You are that Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:68, 69).
3. Let us note Naaman's RECEPTION.The journey is accomplished; the chief and his entourage have reached Samaria, the capital of Israel, situated on its steep hill; a city "which combined, in a union not elsewhere found in Palestine, strength and beauty." Naaman sends one of his troop to the palace of Jehoram with the royal letter of Benhadad. The monarch reads it. Commencing, doubtless, with the customary oriental complimentary salutations, it continued—"With this letter I present my servant Naaman. I want you to heal him of his leprosy."
The perusal leads to a burst of indignant anger. It seemed little else than an insult; an arrogant imposition on royal credulity; the studied, designed occasion of a fresh quarrel. He and his people were just recovering from the staggering blow dealt, not long since, by the hand of Benhadad. He sees in the letter only a pretext for starting war again—for anew ravaging his territories and deluging his valleys with blood. By the customary method of giving expression to strong emotion, Jehoram tore his clothes in dismay; and treating the proposal as the taunt of a blaspheming heathen masking his own political ends—"This man sends me a leper to heal! Am I God, that I can kill and give life? He is only trying to find an excuse to invade us again." Alas! will the monarch of Israel—the head and ruler of the theocratic tribes—refuse to give glory to whom, as it specially became him to testify, glory is due?
As we have already observed, Naaman could not fail to have heard of the astounding miracles which the God of the Hebrews and His prophets had performed in former as well as recent times; how their national annals were a record of marvelous supernatural agency and deed—and if worship of the calves of Bethel had not blinded and demoralized him, the eye of Jehoram, from his kingly capital, might have lighted on more than one eminence suggestive of miraculous intervention in the past. The comparatively recent wonders wrought by the hands of the Great Tishbite might now have been vividly before him; and when this miserable leper, the wreck of military glory, stood in his presence, passing strange that he did not call to mind that beneficent servant of the Most High, on whom Elijah's mantle and spirit had fallen; who recently had power delegated to him, that in the case of the Shunamite's son, he was able to resuscitate from the dead. The leper's hopes seem in a moment to be frustrated and extinguished, his errand fruitless, his pride wounded, his journey an ignominious failure.
How often does this accord with everyday experience! Just when our worldly anticipations seem brightest—the long journey successfully terminated—the aspirations of a lifetime on the eve of accomplishment—some unexpected reverse crosses our wishes, gives the lie to all our dreams of happiness, and we are left apparently, like Naaman, to retrace our lonely way.
In spiritual things, too—the way to the cross, and beyond the cross to the crown—from the gate of earth to the "Gate of God" in the true Canaan, is not all smooth. It is a journey, with all the vicissitudes of a pilgrimage—effort and toil; sunshine and shade; mountains of difficulty; valleys of humiliation; bright gleams and golden sunsets, alternating with somber clouds and murky vapors; Hermon-dews of divine influence and sustaining strength, with fainting and thirst of the arid land—a treeless desert, where no water is—the marching forth with timbrel, lute, and song of praise one day; the next, encountering narrow strait and extremity of peril; when, like Israel, with the sea on one side and the bluff cliffs on the other, our cry is, "We are entangled, the wilderness has shut us in!"
Yes, through what hosts of spiritual foes and hindrances that chariot of faith has to find its way—skeptic doubts; demon passions; depressing and depraving worldliness; the pride of nature; the arrogance of reason; the tyranny of self; the moral weakness which cowers and vacillates under the world's frown, and dreads the world's censure—"truly, a great fight of afflictions."
But, still, on the chariot moves; and faith, imparting fresh courage, inspires the song, "O my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember your kindness—from Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar. I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. Through each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life." Psalm 42:6-8
Thus does the pilgrim-soldier, hindered, but not baffled; wounded, but not overcome; "cast down, but not destroyed;" pass onwards, through all hard experiences, into the paradise of God's peace—"peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"—"peace through the blood of the cross."
We may imagine, in the case of Naaman, the 'conflicting feelings' that burned in his bosom as his faith was now thus severely put to the test. He has allowed himself to be duped and deceived; the toil of that journey has only mocked him in the sight of Syria and Israel; or, what was worse, served to stir up a fresh quarrel between the rival kings. Must he now turn his horses' heads, and, sick at heart, sullen and morose, retrace his way to a dishonored grave amid the cypresses of Damascus? With his confidence shattered in all he had heard of Israel's God, is he to die a blinder votary than ever, of the helpless god Rimmon? What is he to do? He has come to a standstill. It is humiliation either to remain or to return. Benhadad has failed him—Jehoram has failed him. The lesson is anew read to that disconsolate warrior—"Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils."
But man's extremity is God's opportunity. He who "leads the blind by a way they know not," will fulfill, in the case of this earnest seeker, His own promise—"Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass—and He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday…Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down—for the Lord upholds him with His hand" (Ps. 37:5, 6, 24). There is no cause for despondency. The last word of his royal master may have sounded in his ears (as, in a spiritual sense, it ought in ours), "Bu all means, go!" or, like Moses' call to Israel in their moment of terror and apparent defeat, "Go forward!"
Yes, brave warrior! continue your journey with undaunted soul across these Hebrew mountains. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Ps. 30:5). The Sun of Righteousness will before long arise upon you with healing in His beams. There is one, at all events, praying in your behalf in distant Damascus; and the effectual fervent prayer of a Hebrew slave-girl, as well as of a righteous man, avails much. Her prayer is to be answered. Healed in body and restored in soul, she is yet to welcome you back through "The Gate of God," with the new song in your lips—"I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord." Psalm 118:17-19