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12. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
13. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
14. Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and 2 he was clean.
15. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him : and he said, 3 Behold, now I know that there is 4 no God in all the earth, but in Israel : now therefore, I pray thee, 5 take a blessing of thy servant.
16. But he said, 6 As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. 1 Jer. 45: 5. ? Lev. 14:2, 7. Rom. 10:9. Luke 4:27. Isa. 43: 10. Deut. 32:39. Dan. 2: 47;
6: 26, 27. 52 Kings 8:8,9. i Kings 17: 1. 12. Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus. Abana is no doubt the modern Barada, which rises in the table-land, some twenty-three miles from Damascus, and flows through the city in seven beautiful streams. The Pharpar passes a little below the city. Better than all the waters of Israel. From the clay and marshes through which the Jordan goes on its winding way of 200 miles from Anti-Libanus, its waters are muddy and nauseous. Better. Not for his purpose as he may easily prove. May I not wash in them, and be clean? “If a bath is all I need, I could have spared myself the journey.” He went away in a rage. He is furious at the exaltation of the turbid yellow stream of the Jordan above the crystal waters of Abana and Pharpar, the real “rivers" of Damascus. -- Stanley. Men invent a God in their own minds and go to the Bible to see if they find the same God there; if not, they reject him. If their a priori notions of Christ and the way of salvation are not satisfied, they turn away angry. If the diseases of their souls cannot be healed as they have made up their minds that they ought to be healed, then they will not have them healed at all. — Shedd. Naaman came very near the loss of his cure.
13. Fortunately, he had with him servants more sensible than himself. My father. The respectful and affectionate salutation of a confidential servant. Some great thing. Something difficult to carry out, which better accorded with his pride.
V. The Healing Waters. - Ver. 14. 14. The advice seemed reasonable. Then went he down. The land descends from Samaria to the Jordan. Seven times. To show that the healing was a work of God, for seven is the stamp of the works of God. Keil. His flesh came again. The festering corruption became like the flesh of a little boy.- Keil. Was clean. Leprosy is always spoken of as pollution. Evidently, the prophet had in mind the directions of the Jewish law for the purification of a leper (Lev. 14:7-9).
VI. The New Life. — Vers, 15, 16. 15. And he returned to the man of God. From the Jordan to Samaria was a distance of not less than thirty-two miles. — Cook. Now I know that there is no God. That is, no true and saving God. He renounces the fun. damental error of heathenism on the one hand, viz. : that every nation had its own god; and on the other hand he acknowledges that there is only one God on earth, and that he reveals himself in Israel. He who has come to faith in the living God, who revealed himself to Israel by his prophets, and to us by his Son, feels an impulse to confess this faith with joy before men. Without faith there is no confession, and without confession there is no faith (Ps. 116: 10; Rom. 10:10).- Lange. Take a blessing. His special object in returning seems to have been to relieve his feelings of obligation by inducing the prophet to accept a gift. — Cook. Next to God, we owe gratitude to those who have brought us to his knowledge and love.
16. As the Lord liveth, etc. Concerning this solemn formula, see note on previous lesson. I will receive none. On other occasions, Elijah received gifts for himself or his fellow-prophets, as he had a right to do; yet in this case, he thought it better to refuse. It was important that Naaman should not suppose that the prophets of the true God acted from motives of self-interest, much less imagine that “the gift of God might be purchased with money.” - Lange. He urged him to take it; but he refused. This was not a mere ceremonious contest, such as is common in the East. Both parties were evidently in earnest. “God's prophets never stand in such deep needs, that God must be dishonored by their supply. God scorned to be thought to send for Naaman to possess his treasure or enrich his prophet.” In the Daily Readings we follow this story a little further, and see the great general asking for a little of the earth of Israel, now sacred to him, and explaining that his position will demand his attendance at the heathen temple. We see also Gehazi's cupidity, and his delight in his ill-gotten gains turned to mourning, as he hears that he and his will bear the leper's mark, in punishment for his sin. Of all Elisha's miracles of blessing, this cleansing of Naaman's leprosy was the only one he wrought upon a heathen. Naaman's cure, effected by his meeting the conditions of the word of the Lord through Elisha, is a standing type of salvation from sin by the Gospel. Our Lord uses the story as an illustration of the sovereignty of God (Luke 4:27). He does not mean, however, that God exercises his sovereignty capriciously and unreasonably, but only that we must refer to the sovereign pleasure of God those events whose meaning and reason we cannot yet discover. - Todd.
LIBRARY REFERENCES. Commentaries, as under previous lessons, especially Geikie's Hours with the Bible : Stanley's Jewish Church ; Krummacher's Elisha; Lange's Commentary; the Rob Roy on the Fórdan, for a description of the rivers; for a striking description of leprosy, see Ben Hur, by Gen. Lew Wallace, and Thomson's Southern Palestine, 529-535.
PRACTICAL. 1. No biography is complete without the word but. 2. Out of seeming evil, God brings greatest good. 3.
“Young lips may teach the wise, Christ said;
Small feet sad wanderers home have led.” 4. “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can."
5. We are now in the place where God expects us now to be useful. 6. “Whose life lightens, his words thunder."
7. When the surroundings are trying, we can at least “pray for the peace of the city whither we are carried captive.”
8. Heathen cannot understand why all people in Christian lands are not Christians. 9. “A bad conscience finds more in a letter than is meant." 10. “ Those who do not trust God do not trust one another."
11. What we are unwilling to give up at God's command is what comes between us and salvation.
12. “Men invent a God in their own minds, and if they do not find the same God in their Bible, they reject him.” 13. God's way is not to be despised because it is simple.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. Fill in the portraits here outlined. (1) We have NAAMA.y, with his perfect soldier's character, brave (ver. 1), loved by his enemies (vers. 3, 13), credulous (ver. 4), generous even to lavishness (vers. 5, 23), fond of display (ver. 9), sensitive about his dignity (vers. 9, 10), easily made angry (ver. 11), easily pacified (vers. 13, 14), grateful (vers. 15, 23), impetuous (ver, 15), strict in notions of honor (ver. 18). (2) The KING OF Syria, a careless heathen, but ready of sympathy and appreciative of the merits and sufferings of his general. (3) The King Of ISRAEL, wicked, and therefore suspicious; afraid, less of God than of man, unmindful of all his benefits. The King of Syria knew more about his great prophet than he did. Heathen cannot understand that all dwellers in Christian lands are not missionaries.
Illustration. The former pupil of a Christian school in Syria, while travelling in Amer. ica, was told by a lady that she did not believe in missions. “I thought all Christians believed in missions," was the Syrian woman's answer. “O, I am not a Christian," carelessly said the American. “What! and are you a heathen?” “A heathen, indeed! and for what do you take me?” “You must excuse me if I say anything wrong," said the Syrian; “I am a stranger here. In my country, we know only two ways, – the heathen and the Christian; but if there is a third way, I should be so glad to know it."
(4) The loving service of Naaman's servants is worthy of remark, particularly THE LITTLE MAID, brought from the devout training of a godly family into servitude in a hea. then household. She has so commended herself and her people to her mistress, that her words are counted worthy of going to the king. She has not spent her days in foolish prattle.
As Leprosy is always a type of Sin, we have as the
I. The disease (ver. 1), loathsome, fatal, hopeless, — the but in every life, however noble and fair.
II. The remedy suggested. God's message does not fail to find a sin-sick soul. It may be a little child that leads home the lost, or a servant, or a poor stranger. The messenger's life must commend his religion, more than his words can. .
III. The remedy sought. We ask the intercession of our friends, we prepare to offer our best treasures, we wander through the world asking, Where is he, that I might find him?
IV. Two great obstacles are (1) blind guides, who neither enter into salvation themselves or know how to direct others. When we hear One saying " Come unto me," we wait aloof, expecting to be saved in our own way. (2) Proud rejection of the simple Gospel plan is the second obstacle. Illustration
“ Life's great things,” like the Syrian lord,
Our hearts can do and dare,
From waters which alone can save :
And Pharpar's brighter wave. - Whittier. V. God grant that better counsels prevail, and that we apply the remedy exactly according to the directions given by the Master.
VI. Then will the new life be one of (1) confession and (2) open profession, (3) of gratitude and (4) worship.
LESSON XIII. — SEPT. 27.
REVIEW. SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. I. THE MAP. - Showing the extent of the kingdom when this quarter began, and how it was divided between the two kingdoms; which tribes belonged to Israel and which formed Judah.
II. THE HISTORY. — Impress clearly the outlines of the history of this almost a century of national life, — nearly as long as the United States has been a nation. Let the scholars repeat in concert the names of the kings of Judah and of Israel, and learn thoroughly two or three of the more important dates. Give a view of the differences between the two kingdoms in their religious character, and in their prosperity.
III. THE PERSONS IN THIS HISTORY WHO STAND AS A WARNING TO US. — Rehoboam, Jeroboam, Omri, Abab, Jezebel, indeed nearly all the kings; the young advisers of Rehoboam; the elders of Jezreel; the prophets of Baal; Gehazi. What were their deeds which we should avoid? What were the characters out of which these deeds proceeded? What commandments were broken by them? The results of their evil courses.
IV. THE PERSONS IN THIS HISTORY WHO STAND AS EXAMPLES TO US. — Such as Elijah, Elisha, Obadiah, Naaman, the little Jewish girl; and to these, in a far lesser degree, may be added the 100 prophets Obadiah preserved from Jezebel; the prophets who were persecuted, the 7000 who refused to worship Baal. What were the good deeds they did? What elements of character should we emulate? What good results followed their good actions? Call for the best person, the noblest deed, the bravest and most heroic act, the act requiring the greatest faith, the most benevolent deed.
From October 4 to December 27, 1885.
Studies in the Kings and Prophets.
LESSON I. – Oct. 4. ELISHA AT DOTHAN. — 2 KINGS 6:8-23. GOLDEN TEXT. — Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. -- 2 KINGS 6:16.
TIME. — Probably B.C. 892. Certainly between 896 and 884 B.C., during the reign of Jehoram, king of Israel.
PLACE. — Samaria, the capital of Israel, and Dothan (two cisterns) 12 miles to the north.
RULERS. — Jehoshaphat, or Jehoram, king of Judah. Jehoram, son of Ahab, king of Israel. Benhadad II., king of Syria. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria.
INTRODUCTION. The events in the life of Elisha, which we studied in the later lessons of the last quarter, together with the first two lessons of this quarter, all took place during the 12 years of Jehoram's reign over Israel. The exact order is not known. Keil regards the whole section describing these miracles (2 Kings 4:1-8:6), “as no doubt taken from a prophetical monograph and inserted into the annals of the kings," and as a whole in its true chronological place in the Book of Kings. After the healing of Naaman (Lesson XII., Third Quar.) Elisha wrought the miracle of causing the iron axe-head to float on the water, in behalf of a poor member of a school of the prophets. Then follows the lesson for to-day.
8. Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp.
EXPLANATORY. I. The War with Syria. – Ver. 8. 8. Then the king of Syria. Benhadad II. (son, or worshipper of Hadad, probably the sun). He was king of Damascus and the smaller Syrian states around it. - Gray. It was he that sent the letter about Naaman (2 Kings 5:5-7). This Benhadad was defeated in three battles by the Assyrian king Silimarish, or Shalmanubar, whose victories are recorded on a black obelisk in the British Museum. He was murdered by Hazael. Warred against Israel. The war between the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Syria, which had been closed by the battle of Ramoth-Gilead (1 Kings 22: 3) and the death of Ahab (1 Kings 22: 35), was followed by an interval of three or four years of imperfect peace, during which the kings of the two coun-.. tries were on terms of partial friendship (2 Kings 5:5); but raids by marauding bands still continued (2 Kings 5:2). The war now recommenced. The first operations, however, were not conducted by large armies. The raids were made on a larger scale, and under the direction of the king of Syria himself. Not meeting with any adequate resistance, the armed parties made incursions into the very heart of the kingdom of Israel, and ventured within a few miles of Samaria, the capital. They were not strong enough, however, to",