Devotional by Marcus Hobson
Proverbs 25:11 says: ‘A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver’.
How many of the words that we speak are as priceless and rich as that? Have we spoken that word at the right time that God has used to show someone the way of life? Or do we look back and think that we were a bit tongue-tied and missed the golden opportunity, missed the opening in the conversation? We have heard people eloquently speak about the gospel and yet our own attempts at personal witness never seem to quite hit the mark.
There is an anonymous young girl in the Bible whose words were fitly spoken, for God used what she said for the conversion of Naaman, the commander of the army of the King of Syria. The servant girl of Naaman’s wife is only mentioned in 2 Kings 5:2–4. We don’t know her name, we don’t know what happened to her afterwards, but we do know what she said to her mistress: ‘Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’
How significant those words were to be!
What can we say about this servant girl? She is described as a ‘little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife’. She was young; she had been taken captive – when the Syrians raided Israel they had taken her back with them. She had been taken from her home and family which must have been a very traumatic experience. And she was serving Naaman’s wife. So lowly, so insignificant yet ‘God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong’ (1 Cor. 1: 27). The Lord would use this little girl to send Naaman to Elisha.
Naaman was a great man who had led Syria to triumph in battle but he was a leper. This servant girl realised that he was suffering with this severe affliction. Perhaps her mistress had spoken about it. She might well have been afraid to say anything at all – why mention the prophet in Samaria? The Syrians worshipped other gods, Naaman’s wife could have scorned this little girl and her suggestion.
But in her concern for Naaman she did speak up, she did want him to know there was somewhere he could go for help.
We should remember this example of compassion. Christ saw the crowds with compassion ‘because they were like sheep without a shepherd’ (Mark 6:34). He healed those who were afflicted.
This servant girl might have felt there was no particular reason for her to be concerned about Naaman. He was one of her captors, an enemy of her own people. Why should she be concerned about him?
We’re reminded by Christ to ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’ (Matt. 5:44).
The gospel of Christ is not for those who deserve it, but for sinful people who have fallen short of God’s glory. It’s not restricted by social class, ethnicity or background. This little girl cared about Naaman, she was part of this household and she was concerned about him.
What she had to say to her mistress was very short and to the point. She simply said the prophet who is in Samaria would be able to cure him of his leprosy. She pointed him to go to Elisha. Elisha was the Lord’s servant, he was God’s prophet – a servant of God bringing God’s word; a God-appointed means of grace.
What God-appointed means of grace can we point people to? Sometimes we can imagine evangelism to be a very complicated thing. We feel inadequate to give a full-orbed defence of the gospel, to answer lots of questions, to explain Scriptural truths. Perhaps all we need to say is ‘would you like to come to church with me?’
We want to invite people to come under the sound of God’s Word, to hear the truth of Christ, to see the Christian life being lived out in the community of God’s people. In our evangelistic desire have we forgotten about the importance of the church – this is where we hear the Word of life; this is where we grow as disciples of Christ.
Naaman’s servant girl gave this simple word of encouragement to go to the prophet in Israel for he could cure him of his leprosy.
How important that word was to be! Naaman did go, and with the advice of another anonymous servant, this proud man washed in the Jordan and was healed. Naaman goes to tell Elisha ‘Behold, I know there is no God in all the earth but in Israel…’.
It was always the purpose of God that all the nations of the earth would be blessed in Abraham’s offspring (Gen. 22:18). Naaman joins a line of Gentiles in the Old Testament who came to faith in the Lord – Rahab, Ruth the Moabitess, the people of Nineveh in Jonah’s time. This little servant girl with her short but true message, her ‘word fitly spoken’, played her part in the spread of God’s grace to the nations.
Will we do the same?