God’s people did not suddenly become pliant and merciful in the first century. It began long before. David is a prime example in his careful treatment of Saul, a mad king who was out to destroy him. Maybe that is where the little maiden learned her first lessons about mercy.
We do not know exactly when, how, or where, but a band of Syrian soldiers raided an Israelite town and took many people captive, among them a little girl. Eventually she wound up in the home of Naaman, the captain of the very army who kidnapped her and possibly even killed members of her family, serving his wife. I don’t know how old she was, but she was probably far older in mind and actions than children her age nowadays because of what she had been through. She was old enough to remember her homeland and to know about the power of God and his prophet Elisha.
Soon she discovered that her new master had leprosy, a disease so dreaded in her own country that the people who had it were sent away and quarantined. What would you have thought? “Good! Serves him right. Get him, God.” I can easily see those thoughts going through my mind, especially if the last view I had of my home was painted with the blood of my family. What was the last thing you wanted to “get even” with someone about? Can it even hold a candle to what this girl must have experienced?
But no, she tells her mistress, Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy, 2 Kings 5:3.
Excuse me? This man is an enemy of God’s people, at that time a physical kingdom with physical enemies. God’s standing orders often included wiping out those enemies. Yet she wants to save this man, who could easily kill more of God’s children? She was obviously too young to know what she was doing.
But Elisha wasn’t. And God certainly knew whom he was healing as Naaman dipped himself into the Jordan River. This was no mistake caused by a naïve child. The mercy she showed was exactly what God wanted of her.
And so the unexpected result, mercy from a captive toward her captor, made for yet another unexpected result. Naaman, the heathen army captain, said, Behold now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel, v 15.
Sometimes in our zeal to fight for God, we forget that He knows best. When will we ever learn that with God, we should expect the unexpected?
You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy: but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you; that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? Do not even the Gentiles the same? You therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect, Matt 5:43-48.