Sometime last week, I read, as my morning devotional the story of Naaman, Elisha and Gehazi in 2 Kings 5. The passage for consideration focused on Gehazi’s deceitful act. I took sometime to meditate, and arrived at the conclusion used as the title of this post.
The following is a summary:
The above picture, culled from Wikipedia is that of Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, laying his master’s staff over the son of the Shunammite woman who had died. This story is found in 2 Kings chapter 4.
The next chapter, 5, tells the story of how Naaman humbled himself, considered the advice of his servants and obeyed the instruction of Prophet Elisha to go wash(bath) in Jordan 7-times in order to have his leprosy cleansed. In a show of gratitude, Naaman returned to the Prophet’s abode to testify:
2 Kings 5:15: and he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel……
Naaman then offered to give the man of God some gifts. Elisha refused the gifts and asked Naaman to go in peace. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant was obviously somewhere listening and suddenly, the spirit of covetousness gripped him. He planned(verse 20) to “run after Naaman”and collect for himself the gifts his master had refused.
Verse 21: Gehazi executed his plan, ran after Naaman and his men, and told Naaman a lie: that his master just had some guests and therefore requested for a talent of silver and 2-changes of garment. Naaman really has a large heart, he gave Gehazi what he had requested for and even asked his own servants to help carry them back with Gehazi.
The rest of the chapter details what transpired between Elisha and Gehazi. He thought Elisha didn’t know what happened, so he tried covering up his act with another lie. Elisha cursed him and pronounced Naaman’s leprosy on him. He immediately became leprous, white as snow.
As fas as chapter-4 is concerned, Gehazi was on training. The Bible doesn’t record any other previous “go and perform a miracle with my staff” / similar training opportunity afforded to Gehazi by Elisha. Perhaps there was, perhaps there wasn’t.
Assuming the Shunammite woman’s son was Gehazi’s first attempt to perform a miracle (riding on Elisha’s instruction), I wonder why Gehazi wasn’t more concerned about his inability to raise the boy with Elisha’s staff; and why Elisha had to come and do it himself. He could have at least asked his master why he failed, just like the servants of Jesus asked him why they failed in casting out a devil in Matthew 17: 14-21.
Elisha himself had done something similar in 2 Kings 2:14, “where is the God of Elijah”, as he used Elijah’s mantle to divide Jordan and pass through. Perhaps Elisha wasn’t sure of himself at that time, or he just wanted to ride on his masters powers, whichever way it was, he divided the river for his own benefit. For me, this meant there was the possibility that Gehazi could have raised the boy from death by just acting on Elisha’s instruction and using his staff. Unfortunately, Gehazi wasn’t interested in his own failure.
I thought: or perhaps Gehazi wasn’t interested in any of the spiritual gifts manifested by his master. Perhaps, he was just on for the ride and nothing more. In those days, men of God were celebrities in the society, and definitely some of such must have rubbed off on Gehazi. Thus, when the opportunity presented itself for him to enrich his pockets through Naaman, his true intentions were revealed.
I asked myself if Gehazi had heard: (1) about Elijah and how he was taken away by a chariot of fire, (2) of how Elisha healed the waters at Jericho, (3) of how 42-children were killed by wild beasts because they mocked Elisha, (4) of how Moab was destroyed (chapter 3) and (5) of the miraculous provision for a widow of a prophet(chapter4:1-7). While the exact time that Gehazi began his servanthood with Elisha isn’t known, it could be safe to say that for Elisha to give him(Gehazi) his staff and send him on an errand(Shunammite’s), he(Gehazi) and his master must have been together for a while to afford enough trust and familiarity.
Gehazi could have at least coveted a measure of the spirit that worked through his master.
Although his act wasn’t commended, but could we say at least he tried; I mean Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8: 9-24) who was testified to have believed the words which the apostles taught, was baptized and afterward continued with Philip; all the while wondering how the apostles performed the miracles and signs he witnessed. And perhaps ending up in total confusion, as he could not understand the how, what, and where that worked through the apostles, he thought it best to offer money to buy Power in order to lay hands on people so they would receive the Holy Ghost.
Gehazi was totally far from Simons state of mind. He wasn’t even interested in anything spiritual to start with. And between greed and humility, Naaman is better qualified than Gehazi.
I concluded my meditation by wondering why Gehazi wasn’t covetous enough to ask his master for a double portion of his(Elisha’s) spirit. If he did, if he recieved his request just like Elisha recieved his from Elijah, we could have had a Prophet Gehazi who would have had 4-times the spirit of Elijah. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Gehazi ended up as a leper.
Your comments and opinions are welcome!