When Balak heard that Balaam had come, he went out to meet him at the city of Moab, on the border formed by the Arnon, at the extremity of the border. And Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send to you to call you? Why did you not come to me? Am I not able to honor you?” Balaam said to Balak, “Behold, I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak.” (Numbers 22:36-38 ESV)
This is such an interesting story. Balaak, King of Moab, sends for Balaam to come and curse the Israelites because he is afraid of being conquered by them. Eventually Balaam comes on his donkey who three times either veers off the road or sits down under him. Each time Balaam beats his donkey and after the last beating the donkey talks.
“Why have you beat me?”
“Because you made a fool of me!”
“Have I not been your donkey a long time, and have I ever done this before?”
Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes to see the Angel of the Lord standing with his sword drawn in front of him saying, “If your donkey had not veered away I would have killed you because I am opposed to you.” Balaam offers to turn back but the Angel says to keep going but only to say what the Lord tells him to say, something the Lord had also told him before he had agreed to go.
It’s such a fascinating story but why is it here in the Bible? I don’t profess to know all the reasons but I can think of at least one: God puts limits around what even his enemies can do. Balaam was sent for that he might curse Israel. But God would not allow it. In the same way that Satan had sought to destroy Job but could do nothing beyond what God allowed. This is comforting to know. It takes away our fear of the enemy and rightly places it, instead, on the Lord.
What do you fear?
Chronological Reading Plan plus Psalms: Num 21-22, Ps 63