|Vol. 1, No. 4||Page 8||April 1999|
The Little Servant Girl
Second Kings 5:1-3 reads, "Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife. And she said unto her mistress, 'Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! For he would recover him of his leprosy.'"
From reading these three verses we can see that very little information about this unnamed servant girl is recorded. We need to "read between the lines" to discover the wonderful traits she must have possessed to prompt her speaking out to suggest a source of help for her captor, Naaman. One writer has described this account as a "pretty" story; pleasantness rested in her character.
Slavery, in Bible times, had a different connotation than now largely because our thinking is shaped by the Civil War and all its turmoil. In those days, slaves possessing any ability and/or personality were better off than many free persons. Owning slaves was a custom. Naaman's wife evidently was an easy-going person, since the young slave freely talked with her owner. Let us examine three traits this girl surely demonstrated.
First, she was content. Obviously, she harbored no resentment about being in slavery, or she would not have told her owner about Elisha. She had to have been a sweet, forgiving person who knew at an early age her status in life. She could say, along with the apostle Paul, "And having food and raiment let us therewith be content" (1 Timothy 6:8). Hebrews 13:5 reads, ". . . and be content with such things as ye have . . ." Paul told Timothy that ". . . godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6). Rather than lament her station in life, she loved God enough to do what she could. The old song says, "There's a work that we all can do." Certainly, contentment results in a ready mind to work.
Second, she was courageous. The subject of the terrible disease of leprosy had to be very tactfully handled. Jews were the only people who had rules about segregating lepers. (See Leviticus 13:1-9). So, we may assume that the girl was astounded to see Naaman, a leper, going ahead living a "normal" life. Perhaps her parents had taught her about Joshua who had declared, "Fear not . . . be strong and of a good courage . . ." (Joshua 10:25). Think of how brave she was even to suggest help for Naaman from Elisha, even though she seemingly enjoyed a good relationship with her master. Her courage compelled her to do something to help. Her trust in God and her belief in Elisha's God-given power spurred her to action.
Finally, the young girl was faithful. Apparently she had heard and believed the stories of Elisha's activities, including the incredible miracles he had performed. For example, you will recall the events surrounding the Shunammite woman, another great unnamed person in the Old Testament, and her son (2 Kings 4:8-37). This lady and her husband had demonstrated hospitality by building and furnishing a room for Elisha to use when he traveled in that area. To thank them, Elisha interceded to God for the childless couple, and a son was born in due time. While still young, the boy was stricken ill and died. His grieving mother went to Elisha, who came and restored the child to life, further proving God's awesome power. The servant girl no doubt had heard about the children mocking Elisha because of his bald head, whereupon he called for bears to come from the woods and devour them (2 Kings 2:23-25).
Recall the time Elisha sprinkled salt in the bitter, unusable water at Jericho, thus "healing" the spring so that its water became sweet and potable (2 Kings 2:19-22). She had no reservations in her mind that Elisha could heal leprosy.
She may have been proud to know of Elisha, or perhaps she was humble, since the Syrians had been so kind to her. Whatever her reason, she displayed great faith that Elisha could heal Naaman. The story ends with Naaman's healing--when, and not until--he obeyed the instructions to dip seven times in the river Jordan. This miracle continued to strengthen the girl's strong faith.
We could possibly perceive this child as being the first "medical missionary" (Lofts, p.162). We know that Naaman not only was physically healed, but that he learned that ". . . in all the earth there is no God but in Israel" (2 Kings 5:15). The girl showed that God is God of all--not just of the Jews. Perhaps Naaman gave the girl her freedom to show his gratitude. Consider this quote from Alice Cary. "He who loves best his fellow man is loving God the holiest way he can."
Hopefully, we can learn from the servant girl to be happy and satisfied with our stations in life. The great apostle Paul stated, ". . . I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11). The little maid exercised her faith, not hesitating to help her master in his afflictions.
Let us listen to the unnamed servant girl as, across the centuries, she speaks, encouraging us to be content with what we have, to have courage to do what is right and to strengthen our faith daily. The apostles asked the Lord to ". . . increase our faith" (Luke 17:5). These characteristics of godly living fortify us as we travel the strait and narrow way to heaven (Matthew 7:13-14).
BibliographyDeen, Edith (1955), All the Women of the Bible (Harper & Row) pp. 362-363.
Krummacher, F. W., (1993) Elisha, A Prophet For Our Times (Kregel) pp. 103-106.
Lofts, Norah, (1949) Women in the Old Testament (MacMillan) p. 157-162.
Pink, Arthur, (1972) Gleanings From Elisha (Moody Press) pp. 121-129.