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Balaam and The Donkey

By March 25, 2022No Comments

How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?

Numbers 23:8

Chapters 22 through 24 in Numbers describes the prophet named Balaam. At first, we may think Balaam is a holy prophet obedient and in tune with God’s will. We learn in the story that Balaam was not so good even though he spoke what the LORD told him to say. It took an angel wielding a sword and a talking donkey for us to realize he wasn’t actually on the same path as the LORD (pun intended).

The story begins with the Israelites encamping on the territory of Moab. The king of Moab, Balak, was worried because he had seen how the Israelites had defeated the kingdom of Og. He was so anxious about this invasion that he summoned a pagan seer named Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balaam sent a message back to King Balak that he could not condemn a people that God had blessed. Nevertheless, King Balak asked Balaam to meet him and promised Balaam much wealth.

Balaam agreed to meet, and while traveling, an angel of the LORD appeared wielding a sword and blocking the path. Only the donkey could see the angel and diverted to a field. Balaam, in his anger, beat the donkey. The angel again blocked the donkey, and Balaam hit the donkey with his rod. The angel walled in the donkey from moving a third time, and Balaam used his rod on the animal one more time.

At that moment, the donkey turned his head and spoke to Balaam. Here’s my interpretation of what the donkey said, “Hey Dude, why are you hitting me? What did I ever do to you? Have I not always served you well over all these years?”

Before he could answer, the angel made himself known to Balaam. The angel asked, “Balaam, why are you beating the donkey? What has she done to you? It was I who stood in your path. I will allow you to continue your journey but only speak what the LORD says. Don’t say what King Balak wants to hear just for money.”

Balaam went on to meet with King Balak but only spoke what the LORD allowed. Balaam prophesied future blessings over the Israelites in three oracles, and this blessing did not please Balak whatsoever, and the two parted ways.

Before thinking too harshly about Balaam, I looked at my life and how I’ve tried to manipulate the LORD into giving what I desire. Possessions, relationships, and fame – I’ve asked for it all. Often under the pretense of serving Him, changing a habit, or giving more of my “wealth” away. You know the conversation. “LORD, I will tithe 20% if you’ll just let me win the lottery.”

Balaam’s story is an excellent story for reflection. How we serve the LORD should be pure and humble without seeking a return. God already has given us everything we need – Jesus Christ. The gift of Jesus indeed covers anything else we could ever ask for in this life.