COVETOUSNESS SEVERELY COMPROMISES MINISTRY INTEGRITY
The temptation of greed and covetousness always poses a serious threat to ministry integrity. The servant of God is all too familiar with the material sacrifices he has made and the worldly riches he has forsaken in order to pursue ministering to others. When Gehazi sees Elisha pass up the opportunity to receive legitimate lavish gifts from a thankful Naaman, he concocts a plan of deception to acquire the riches for himself. Rather than trusting in God to provide all his needs on a day-to-day basis, he chooses to pursue security and pleasure in the riches of this world.
Dilday: We see here a pagan who by an act of faith is cured of leprosy and an Israelite who by an act of dishonor is cursed with it.
I. (:20-21a) MOTIVATION OF COVETOUSNESS
A. (:20a) Profit Opportunity Clouds the Thinking
“But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, thought,
‘Behold, my master has spared this Naaman the Aramean,
by not receiving from his hands what he brought.’”
B. (:20b-21) Pursuit of Covetousness
“As the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him.
So Gehazi pursued Naaman.”
II. (:21b-24) METHODOLOGY OF DECEPTION
A. (:21b-22) Lying to Obtain Riches from a Thankful Recipient of God’s Blessing
“When Naaman saw one running after him, he came down from the chariot to meet him and said, ‘Is all well?’ 22 And he said, ‘All is well.’
My master has sent me, saying, ‘Behold, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothes.’”
Wiersbe: Gehazi had been decaying in his spiritual life, and this was the climax. He had pushed away the woman whose son died (4:27), and he had no power to raise the boy to life (4:31). Now his covetousness took control, it led to lying, and it finally resulted in Gehazi becoming a leper. The disease on the outside typified the decay on the inside.
B. (:23) Acquiring Excessive Riches Under False Pretenses
“And Naaman said, ‘Be pleased to take two talents.’ And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags with two changes of clothes, and gave them to two of his servants; and they carried them before him.”
Clarke: The fact that he handed them to two of his servants shows that this was a lot of silver. It required two servants to carry these two talents, for, according to the computation above, each talent was about 120 lbs. weight.
C. (:24) Hiding the Riches in a Secure Location
“When he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and deposited them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.”
III. (:25-27) MORTIFICATION OF EXPOSURE AND CONDEMNATION
A. (:25) Inquisition – What Gives?
“But he went in and stood before his master. And Elisha said to him, ‘Where have you been, Gehazi?’ And he said, ‘Your servant went nowhere.’”
B. (:26) Indictment – 2 Key Principles of Accountability
1. God Sees All
“Then he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you,
when the man turned from his chariot to meet you?’”
2. God Judges All
“Is it a time to receive money and to receive clothes and olive groves
and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants?”
David Guzik: It seems that Elisha had no absolute law against receiving support from those who were touched by his ministry. Yet it was spiritually clear to Elisha, and should have been clear to Gehazi, that it was not appropriate at this time and circumstance.
C. (:27) Sentence of Judgment
“’Therefore, the leprosy of Naaman shall cleave to you
and to your descendants forever.’
So he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.”
Whitcomb: In proportion to his privileges, so also was his judgment – perpetual, inheritable leprosy! And thus, for one more of God’s privileged servants came the judgment that Paul feared so much: “lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected” (1 Cor. 9:27).
MacArthur: Gehazi’s greed had cast a shadow over the integrity of Elisha’s prophetic office. This made him no better in the people’s thinking than Israel’s false prophets, who prophesied for material gain, the very thing he wanted to avoid (vv. 15, 16). Gehazi’s act betrayed a lack of faith I the Lord’s ability to provide. As a result, Elisha condemned Gehazi and his descendants to suffer Naaman’s skin disease forever. The punishment was a twist for Gehazi, who had gone to “take something” from Naaman (v. 20), but what he received was Naaman’s disease.
Mordechai Cogan: Finally, the suggestion to take vv. 20–27 as a secondary development (so Gray) should be rejected. The artful reversal of roles exhibited in the opening and closing verses points to the primary unity of the chapter: the notable foreigner who trusts in the prophet is healed of his leprosy, while the unfaithful attendant trades places with him, afflicted now by this same terrible disease.