Elisha began as a servant to Elijah and later took his place as prophet after Elijah was taken up to heaven. He had a servant named Gehazi. It is possible that he was preparing Gehazi to eventually be his successor just as he had been Elijah’s successor.
Unfortunately Gehazi made a disastrous mistake which destroyed any hope he had of taking Elisha’s place. The story of his failure is found in 2 Kings chapter 5. After Elisha had cleansed Naaman’s leprosy and turned down the reward Naaman offered Gehazi decided that he would obtain part of this reward for himself.
But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?”
And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’”
And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.”
And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.
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.”
But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.
2 Kings 5:19-27
As a result he found himself inflicted with the leprosy which had formerly been Naaman’s. This was a tragedy not merely for him but for the whole nation of Israel, because it was deprived of the good Gehazi could have done for them if he had become a prophet of God.
But this isn’t the end of Gehazi’s story. In 2 Kings 8 we find him telling the king about the things Elisha had done. As he was doing this the woman whose son Elijah had raised from the dead came to the king asking for the return of her land.
Now the king was talking with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me all the great things that Elisha has done.”
And while he was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Elisha restored to life.”
And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, “Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now.”
2 Kings 8:4-6
Because of Gehazi’s intercession with the king her request was granted.
Under the Mosaic law lepers were to be kept away from other people and not allowed to associate with them. The fact that Gehazi was talking to the king seems to indicate that he was no longer a leper. If this was the case then he must have repented of his previous sin and been forgiven. He wasn’t restored to his former position as servant of Elisha but he was able to do some good by helping the woman regain her land.
There are two lessons to be learned from the life of Gehazi. The first is that even if it looks as if we are successfully serving God we can always fail if we allow ourselves to be controlled by sin. The second is that after we have failed and are suffering the consequences we can still repent and be restored to a position of service for God.