But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So he struck her again. Then the angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. (Numbers 22:22-31 ESV)
This is such an interesting, and entertaining, account. What would you do if a donkey spoke to you? (Is this where the concept of Mr. Ed came from?) The donkey speaks to show the blindness of Balaam in his endeavor. We know from later in the passage that Balaam’s intent was to be honored and made rich according to the offer of the king who had sent for him. That meant cursing God’s people. An angel stood in his path to stop him. The scene depicts how obviously evil was the path Balaam was on. Even the donkey could see it. But his ambitions blinded him to it.
We should note how easily we become blinded by our ambitions and our appetites and choose not to see the warnings that the Lord puts before us. He gives us parents, friends, elders as well as providentially placed pauses in our path. How do you know when you may be facing one? We can take note of Balaam’s anger. He was angered because the donkey’s delays were hindering his ambitions. While there is such a thing as righteous anger (seeing oppression and injustice or God’s glory impugned), most of our anger rises because plans are hindered. At the very least we should see the providence of God at work and ask, “God, what are you teaching me?” We must learn to listen when the donkey speaks, that is, take note of the sovereign providence of God in the midst of life.
Lord, if you are for us who can be against us? Help us to remember that for your people you cause all things to work together for our good.