Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous…
I. IT IS VERY EVIDENT THAT THE RULING PASSION OF BALAAM WAS COVETOUSNESS.
II. But I wish you, further, to CONSIDER BALAAM AS THE POSSESSOR OF EXTRAORDINARY GIFTS.
III. But, lastly, we must CONSIDER BALAAM AS INFLUENCED BY STRONG RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS. We mark them in his anxiety to ask counsel of God — in his confession of sin when withstood by the angel — in his steady determination to obey the letter of the command — and in the impassioned wish of my text, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." Now we must not suppose that in all this Balaam was altogether insincere. His whole aim was to try to reconcile his wickedness with his duty; nevertheless, there were times when the better nature struggled hard within him. And is not this just the case of thousands in every age? Are there not many who, when under the influence of an awakened conscience, can melt into tears at the remembrance of past sins and negligences — who feel a momentary desire of attaining heaven? They are borne away by the fervour of the moment, and fancy themselves in earnest. The natural man has been wrought upon, and, for the time, you might fancy him spiritual; but the trance is over, and he is natural still. Beware, then, how you trust to occasional thoughts and feelings. All men, whatever their present life may be, agree in the desire of attaining heaven at the last. And here is the deceptive thing — that the wish for conversion may be mistaken for the act of conversion; the appearance of devotion for the reality of devotion; the elevated thought, the momentary aspiration, for the real abiding work of the Spirit of the Lord. Oh! then, for the grace to make these impressions permanent, so that they may lead onwards to greater watchfulness, more earnest prayer, and more honest strivings against the besetting sin.
(E. Bickersteth, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!