II Kings 5 tells the story of Naaman, the captain of the host of Syria, a man with a charmed life in every way until tragedy struck.
“…but he was a leper.” – II Kings 5:1
It’s interesting to note that Syria’s victory over Israel through Naaman’s leadership was of God, according to the same verse. The passage even describes this enemy of Israel as mighty and honorable. In the face of the death sentence that leprosy dealt, such a man would have handled it appropriately, separating himself from a successful career and beloved wife so as not to infect anyone else with the dreaded disease. But this tale is not just about him.
Enter the true hero of the story.
She is not named in the Bible, but is described only as a little Israelite girl that served Namaan’s wife.
“And the Syrians…had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.” – II Kings 5:2
Scripture doesn’t give any background about this child, but we can imagine what her situation must have been like. Torn from her family and her country and made to serve her enemy, she could have become bitter. She could have been waiting for the opportunity to grow up and avenge herself. At the very least, she could have run away.
But she did not.
Instead, in an act of kindness foreshadowing the compassion of Christ, she told her mistress of the one hope her master had to be cured: to see the prophet Elijah, who, through the power of Jehovah, could heal her master. And she certainly did not appear to have wrestled with sharing this information.
Instead, she seemed to have not only forgiven her captor, but to have loved him. She was deeply emotional as she spoke, her words obviously heartfelt.
“Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.” – II Kings 5:3
Too, this little girl demonstrated great faith in her God, a God she might have thought abandoned her. But despite all she had suffered, she held on utterly and steadily to her faith in God.
“He would recover him of his leprosy.” (emphasis mine)
We often see examples in the Bible of adults who maintained their faith and compassion in the face of incredible odds. I think of the Joseph of Genesis, brutally mistreated by his brothers, who became prime minister of Egypt. Because of the compassion, faith, and purity he demonstrated throughout his life, he’s considered to be an Old Testament picture of Christ.
It’s compelling that many of the same qualities demonstrated by Joseph can be seen in the life of an unnamed little girl. Her rock-solid faith in a time of great personal and political trouble, as well as her compassion for her enemies, can inspire people of all ages to maintain those same qualities every day.
What inspires you about the little maid’s story? Do you have suggestions for other inspirational Bible characters you’d like me to discuss? I’d love to hear from you.