Dave Burnette's Commentary

Numbers Chapter 22

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel's Unbelief (c 1-27)
Theme: A Second Approach to the Promised Land (c 22-36)
Message: The Story of Balaam (v 1-35)

Numbers 22 Commentary

(22:4-6) An Introduction to Balaam -  Apparently Balaam was known for the effectiveness of the blessings and curses he pronounced. Blessings and curses made by pagan sorcerers were common in Old Testament times, and sorcerers who spoke them were thought to have influence with the gods. For this reason, the king of Moab wanted Balaam to use his apparent power to place a curse on Israel, hoping that, by magic, the God of Israel would turn against his people. Neither Balaam nor Balak had any idea about the God they were dealing with

(22:9) God Speaks to the Moabites - Why would God speak through a sorcerer like Balaam? God wanted to give a message to the Moabites, and they had already chosen to employ Balaam. So Balaam was available for God to use, much as God had used the wicked pharaoh to accomplish his will in Egypt (Exodus 10:1). Balaam entered into his prophetic role seriously, but his heart was mixed. He had some knowledge of God, but not enough to forsake his magic and turn wholeheartedly to God. Although this story leads us to believe he turned completely to God, later passages in the Bible show that Balaam couldn't resist the tempting pull of money and idolatry (Numbers 31:16; 2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11; Revelation 2:14).

(22:20-23) Balaam's Greed - God let Balaam go with Balak's messengers, but he was angry about Balaam's greedy attitude. Balaam claimed that he would not go against God for money, but his resolve was beginning to slip. His greed for the wealth offered by the king blinded him so that he could not see how God was trying to stop him. Though we may know what God wants us to do, we can become blinded by the desire for money, possessions, or prestige. We can avoid Balaam's mistake by looking past the allure of fame or fortune to the long-range benefits of following God.

(22:27) Balaam's Anger - Donkeys were all-purpose vehicles used for transportation, carrying loads, grinding grain, and plowing fields. They were usually highly dependable, which explains why Balaam became so angry when his donkey refused to move.

(22;29) Balaam Lashes Out - The donkey saved Balaam's life but made him look foolish in the process, so Balaam lashed out at the donkey. We sometimes strike out at blameless people who get in our way because we are embarrassed or our pride is hurt. Lashing out at others can be a sign that something is wrong with us. Don't allow your own hurt pride to lead you to hurt others.

(22:41) The High Places of Baal - The high places of Baal" refers to the pagan hilltop shrine where Baal was worshiped near Heshbon and Dibon. This was the first stopping point on the way to the high plains of Moab. From this vantage point, they could see the Israelite camp.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Balaam and the Speaking Donkey

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue the book of Numbers with Chapter 22 and in today's text we see a new generation of the nation of Israel as they make their attempt to enter the Promise Land. This second attempt of entrance is met with opposition as the Neighboring nations introduce Israel to other Gods. We are introduced to Balaam who was a sorcerer that God used to give a message to the Moibites. Balaam was willing to acknowledge God on the outside but on the inside he was only willing to serve God as long as it profited him. In making application we see a common truth today. We can put on a front by going to Church and acting like a Christian but eventually the mask we put on will come off and we will be exposed for what is truly in our heart. In our text God used a donkey to speak to Balaam and today God uses many situations and circumstances to expose our heart. How about you? Are you acting like a Christian on the outside but on the inside you are lost? God could use a donkey to speak to you but the Holy Spirit will convict you your true condition. If your lost, you can't fool God, repent and be saved today.  


Numbers 22

Numbers 22

 1And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho.

 2And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.

 3And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.

 4And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.

 5He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:

 6Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.

 7And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.

 8And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the LORD shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.

 9And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?

 10And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying,

 11Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.

 12And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.

 13And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you.

 14And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us.

 15And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.

 16And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me:

 17For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.

 18And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.

 19Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more.

 20And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.

 21And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.

 22And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.

 23And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.

 24But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.

 25And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again.

 26And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.

 27And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.

 28And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

 29And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.

 30And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay.

 31Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

 32And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:

 33And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.

 34And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.

 35And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

 36And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him unto a city of Moab, which is in the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost coast.

 37And Balak said unto Balaam, Did I not earnestly send unto thee to call thee? wherefore camest thou not unto me? am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour?

 38And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.

 39And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kirjathhuzoth.

 40And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.

 41And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that thence he might see the utmost part of the people.