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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 22

Verses 1-41

  1. INTRO:
    1. Story – When I give our dogs a bath in the back yard, they hate the cold water from the hose, but love the shampoo rub(wiggle) & the towel dry(ears). But every time immediately after the towel dry, they take off like a bullet, & run & dive, nose 1st on the grass; then in the dirt rolling on there backs, fully enjoying their dog nature!
      1. ​​​​​​​Man has been born with 1 nature, & it really is all he knows how to enjoy.
      2. Man left to himself will do all he can to please this very powerful man nature.
      3. Although, he may at some time in his life try to imitate another nature, but if he doesn’t actually have that other nature, then it is as phony as my cockatiel doing his chicken impersonation!
    2. Let’s meet a double-minded man who tries to serve 2 masters; who knows God’s directive will, but chooses His permissive will instead; & who is best known for being brought up on charges of Donkey Abuse, & for talking to a donkey because it talked to him.
      1. As bizarre as the talking donkey part is, Peter, Jude, & John treat Balaam as a historical character in their writings, a few 1000 years later.
  2. SERVING TWO MASTERS!
    1. ​​​​​​​MEET THE CAST! (1-6)
    2. Balak - king of Moab (where Ruth’s story will play out in the future)
      1. Extremely afraid of Israel’s number & Israel’s God/reputaiton (3).
      2. He allies with Midian.
      3. Balak realizes that physical force would never defeat the Jews, so he resorts to spiritual deception by hiring Balaam to curse Israel.
    3. (5) Balaam - What an enigma!
      1. He’s from a heathen nation, yet he knew the true God.
      2. He was a soothsayer, yet he was able to predict the future of Israel.
      3. He listened to the Word of God, yet turned right around & led Israel into sin & judgement.
    4. Pethor - a city in northern Mesopotamia on the banks of the Euphrates river.
      1. That Balak sent emissaries such a great distance is evidence of Balaam’s considerable reputation for supernatural powers. (New Geneva Study Bible Notes; pg.220)
    5. REFUSING TO GO, VISIT #1! (7-14)
    6. (7) The Diviners fee - everybody has a price...what would you sell your soul for?
      1. One of my best friends in H.S. sold his soul for 1 month more of a relationship, with his live in girlfriend. (i.e. That’s all it lasted after he choose her over Jesus!)
    7. (13,14) No way Jose! - He 1st appears as a man of integrity, who attempts a literal obedience to the will of God.
    8. DIRECTIVE & PERMISSIVE WILL, VISIT #2! (15-21)
    9. Upping the ante! - more wealth, more honor, won’t you reconsider?
      1. Wow, I’m really important. They really need my gift.
      2. Isn’t this exactly what Satan does once we have made a definite decision to obey God’s Word?
        1. Our battle today is not against flesh & blood but against spiritual wickedness, & we will win the victory only if we use spiritual weapons!
    10. (19) The problem here is, of course, that Balaam’s 2nd appeal was in essence a request for God to change His mind!
      1. ​​​​​​​Balaam knew God’s directive will. He simply did not want to obey it.
      2. You and I are often in Balaam’s situation. We know what God wants. But we want something else so badly that we keep going back to the Lord, asking Him to change His mind.
        1. Later, when things go wrong, we’re likely to say as Balaam did after being warned by the donkey, “I did not know”(34).
        2. But this is the worst kind of lie - a lie we tell ourselves. Down deep we knew all along what God really wanted us to do!
      3. Let’s learn from Balaam not to deceive ourselves, and to choose God’s directive will, rather than settle merely for permission.
    11. Balaam should have said like Daniel (5:17) “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another”. But he obviously wanted them deep down inside (contrary to vs.18).
      1. Read 2 Pet.2:15,16 - He loved the wages of unrighteousness.
        1. ​​​​​​​ESV He loved the gain of wrong doing.
      2. Deep in his heart Balaam wanted to go with the messengers because he was greedy of gain.
      3. Using religion as a means of getting wealth! Wow, no one’s thought of doing that!
    12. (19,20) This is another time in scripture where God’s will was perfectly clear(12) there was no need to pray!
      1. God allowed Balaam to go, but He did not carry divine approval with him. (Herbert Lockyer; All the Men of the Bible; pg.64.)
      2. Sometimes God punishes us by allowing us to have our own way! :(
      3. So, permission granted, but a limit was set on his speech.
    13. An abiding principle - Man is compelled to work out what is deepest w/in him, while all the way God works toward changing that internal condition. (grace)
    14. DONKEY TALK! (22-35)
    15. Balaam, a head full of light & a heart full of dark!
    16. (22) God’s mad.
    17. (23) So intent on his selfish mission, he was not sensitive to God’s will.
    18. (28) The story abounds in comic irony. The donkey was able to see the path better than the diviner, & then tell him about it! (2 Pet.2:16)
      1. The most stupid of all beast, was made to speak & reprove one of the wisest of men. [How many agencies God uses to arrest our evil courses!]
    19. Dumb donkey – Another time the Lord used a rooster to preach a sermon powerful enough to break an apostle…& it only had 2 words in it (cock-a-doodle-do; cock-a-doodle-do)!
      1. Mark 14:72 Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.”
      2. Ministering to a heart is “always” the Lords doing!
    20. (29) Here Balaam is calling for a sword, w/o knowing that he was about to see one pointed at him.
    21. (32) Your way is perverse (contrary) - about sums it up!
      1. So there was really no reason to say, “If it displeases You, I will turn back”.
        1. He should have just done it. He’s still fishin.
        2. He was playing with God’s will, seeing how far he could go.
    22. He was trying to serve 2 masters - to speak as God told him, but to please Balak & pocket his gold.
    23. Some read this No on can serve two masters. Yes, he can; he can serve 3 or 4, or 20. The way to read it is this No on can serve two masters. They cannot both be masters. He can serve 2, but they both can’t be his master. Balaam labored to serve 2.
      1. When Spurgeon saw the statue of Lord Byron, in the library at Trinity College, Cambridge; he was told by the librarian, “stand on this side.” Looking at one side, he saw a fine intellectual countenance; Looking at the other side, he had such a scowl, a dreadful look to him, almost demonic. “Did the artist mean to do this,” Spurgeon asked. “Yes! He wished to picture the 2 characters, the great grand, the almost superhuman genius that he possessed, & yet the enormous mass of sin that was in his soul.”
      2. We sure see the split personality of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Balaam/Hide!
    24. ​​​​​​​THE MEETING! (36-40)
    25. (40,41) God permitted Balaam to meet Balak, who gave him a great feast(40) & showed him a great view(41).
    26. End:
    27. The main lesson here is to find the will of God & obey it, regardless of personal desires or subsequent circumstances!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Numbers 22". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/numbers-22.html. 2017.