Numbers 24

* Balaam, leaving divinations, prophesies the happiness of

Israel. (1-9) Balak dismisses Balaam in anger. (10-14) Balaam's

prophecies. (15-25)

1-9 Now Balaam spake not his own sense, but the language of the

Spirit that came upon him. Many have their eyes open who have

not their hearts open; are enlightened, but not sanctified. That

knowledge which puffs men up with pride, will but serve to light

them to hell, whither many go with their eyes open. The blessing

is nearly the same as those given before. He admires in Israel,

their beauty. The righteous, doubtless, is more excellent than

his neighbour. Their fruitfulness and increase. Their honour and

advancement. Their power and victory. He looks back upon what

had been done for them. Their power and victory. He looks back

upon what had been done for them. Their courage and security.

The righteous are bold as a lion, not when assaulting others,

but when at rest, because God maketh them to dwell in safety.

Their influence upon their neighbours. God takes what is done to

them, whether good or evil, as done to himself.
10-14 This vain attempt to curse Israel is ended. Balak broke

out into a rage against Balaam, and expressed great vexation.

Balaam has a very full excuse; God restrained him from saying

what he would have said, and constrained him to say what he

would not have uttered.
15-25 Under the powerful influence of the Spirit of prophecy,

Balaam foretold the future prosperity and extensive dominion of

Israel. Balaam boasts that his eyes are open. The prophets were

in old times called seers. He had heard the words of God, which

many do who neither heed them, nor hear God in them. He knew the

knowledge of the Most High. A man may be full of the knowledge

of God, yet utterly destitute of the grace of God. He calls God

the Most High and the Almighty. No man could seem to express a

greater respect to God; yet he had no true fear of him, love to

him, nor faith in him; so far a man may go toward heaven, and

yet come short of it at last. Here is Balaam's prophecy

concerning Him who should be the crown and glory of his people

Israel; who is David in the type; but our Lord Jesus, the

promised Messiah, is chiefly pointed at, and of him it is an

illustrious prophecy. Balaam, a wicked man, shall see Christ,

but shall not see him nigh; not see him as Job, who saw him as

his Redeemer, and saw him for himself. When he comes in the

clouds, every eye shall see him; but many will see him, as the

rich man in hell saw Abraham, afar off. He shall come out of

Jacob, and Israel, as a Star and a Sceptre; the former denoting

his glory and lustre; the latter his power and authority. Christ

shall be King, not only of Jacob and Israel, but of all the

world; so that all shall be either governed by his golden

sceptre, or dashed in pieces by his iron rod. Balaam prophesied

concerning the Amalekites and Kenites, part of whose country he

had now in view. Even a nest in a rock will not be a lasting

security. Here is a prophecy that looks as far forward as to the

Greeks and Romans. He acknowledges all the revolutions of states

and kingdoms to be the Lord's doing. These events will make such

desolations, that scarcely any will escape. They that live then,

will be as brands plucked out of the fire. May God fit us for

the worst of times! Thus Balaam, instead of cursing the church,

curses Amalek the first, and Rome the last enemy of the church.

Not Rome pagan only, but Rome papal also; antichrist and all the

antichristian powers. Let us ask ourselves, Do we in knowledge,

experience, or profession, excel Balaam? No readiness of speech,

even in preaching or prayer, no gifts of knowledge or prophecy,

are in themselves different from, or superior to the boasted

gifts of him who loved the wages of unrighteousness, and died

the enemy of God. Simple dependence on the Redeemer's atoning

blood and sanctifying grace, cheerful submission to the Divine

will, constant endeavours to glorify God and benefit his people,

these are less splendid, but far more excellent gifts, and

always accompany salvation. No boasting hypocrite ever possessed

these; yet the feeblest believer has something of them, and is

daily praying for more of them.
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