Pastoral Commentary for Numbers 23:1-24:14
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Although Balak, king of Moab, summoned Balaam to curse Israel, Balaam found that he could only speak what the Lord commanded him to speak. After having Balak offer sacrifices on a high place of worship, Balaam uttered his first oracle, blessing not cursing Israel. "How can I curse whom God has not cursed?" he said. Balaam's oracle ended with a prayer the he would die the death of the upright like Jacob, a fitting prayer for a believer, but one God did not grant for Balaam. Balak took Balaam to different high place in hopes of a different outcome. Balaam's second oracle was a greater blessing than the first, and included a wonderful word of truth for us all. "God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?" We can count on God's promises. Yet another change of location and another round of sacrifices brought a third blessing for Israel from the mouth of Balaam. Predicting Israel's rout of her enemies, Balaam's oracle ended by paraphrasing the covenant God made with Abraham, "Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you." In great anger Balak commanded Balaam to go, but Balaam had more to say before he would leave Balak.