November 26, 2010

Biblical Femininity I: A Spiritual Jumpstart

I considered putting this in my Nameless But Notable series but the fact that this story finds its origin in the young female servant of the wife of Naaman, I chose to launch my series on woman in the Bible called "Biblical Femininity" because it was an interesting story that should focus attention more on the servant girl than on Naaman.

With inauspicious humble beginnings God often works amazing and miraculous feats. Baby Jesus, baby Moses, a young shepherd boy named David, a youthful Jeremiah and here in this story. At the beginning of 1 Kings 5 we see a small seed of truth waiting to germinate out of its seed coat and grow into full blown faith. This tidbit of truth resides within a non-descript, nameless servant girl of Naaman's wife's.

"Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 1 Kings 5:1-3

The obstacles that she needs to overcome are tantamount to absurdity to be able to release the truth.

Obstacle #1: Her status as an Israelite slave in Syria (Aram).
Obstacle #2: She was a young female
Obstacle #3: a time when females were viewed as second-class citizens
Obstacle #4: Women's witness was worth little even if they were privileged.
Obstacle #5: There opinions were worth even less.

She was literally a possession of another female. Possessions do not talk, they serve. Possessions of another woman in society were suppose to speak and be visible even less. It is not ironic God would choose to speak truth through a person of such low social status as it appears to be God's modus operandi throughout much of Scripture.

"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." ~1 Corinthians 1:27-29

She was virtually non-existent to those in power in society (Naaman). What do you suppose were the chances that a young foreign slave girl would gain an audience with someone that had the status of Naaman? 5%...0%?

We then need to look at the linear steps in which the statements of this slave girl needed to travel to further understand just how much God's providence is working in her and Naaman's life.

Step #1: She needed to speak with Naaman's wife.
Step #2: Who needed to speak with Naaman.
Step #3: Who needed to speak with the King of Syria.
Step #4: Who sent Naaman with a letter to his enemy, the King of Israel.

As an example of stories changing over time and ending up totally different from how they started we have the case-in-point of the message that the King of Israel received...

“With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 1 Kings 5:6

The King of Israel is more than likely scratching his head at this point thinking out loud, "Huh? Why is this hammerheaded dope sending this diseased abomination to me? ...As if I can do anything about his condition anyway!" Sensing a plot of stratagem to undermine him...or just suffering from spiritual blindness, the King of Israel proceeds to freak out and rend his garments in desperation.

"Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” ~1 Kings 5:7
Anyone that understands a linear process like an electrical circuit understands that if any of the variables have been removed or disconnected, the current stops. In this case the message put in motion by Naaman's wife's servant girl would've floundered into oblivion. It did not. Well sort of, we need to read the next few verses to see the light that will be shed from this completed circuitous path.

"When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” ~1 Kings 5:8-10

Elisha began working through the other end of the circuit...the grounded or "positive" end depending on which way the current was flowing. The connection is made and the circuit completed. The Spirit going through people until all can see the current of the Spirit in the form of "light" and "illumination" or a manifestation of the Spirit having worked in people.

Naaman eventually is healed after wranglings with Elisha. But that is a story for another post. I wanted to focus on Naaman's wife's servant girl and the impetus of the Spirit of God working in her to send a charge through the entire system all the way up to the king(s). A charge clearly sent from true King and the source of all power and illumination (wisdom).

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