Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.
Joshua 13:22. God is patient in the exercise of His justice as well as in His compassions, for He is the Lord, with whom "a thousand years are as one day." He knows that His threatenings, like His promises, cannot fail. Of this we have a striking proof, both in the punishment which came upon Balsam, during the war for the conquest of Canaan, and in the blessing of Caleb.
I. For many years Balsam had been untrue to his own conscience, in going back to the idolatries of Canaan, after having been made for one day the organ of the most glorious oracles of the true God. He is thus an illustration of the truth that the baser passions of the heart, if not subdued, will always quench the clearest light of the intellect. Balsam chose wittingly the evil part. He plunged again into the corrupt practices of the heathen. For a long time it seemed to the eyes of men, who judge only by the appearance, that he had made the right choice. Was it not better to sit under his own vine and fig tree, and enjoy the riches heaped upon him by Balak, than to join the Israelites in their dreary desert pilgrimage, beneath a blazing sky, and over the burning sand? Had not Balsam acted wisely? Unquestionably he had if the rule of true philosophy be, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die;" that is to say, if God does not reign in righteousness forever and ever. But when the old soothsayer fell beneath the sword of those Israelites whose warfare he had not been willing to share, he understood too late that it was these despised people who had alone been wise, and that, in spite of all the light he had received, he had lived and acted like a fool. How many are there now living who recognise with their minds the truth of the gospel, but who are unwilling to give up their sinful indulgences, until there rises upon them the terrible day of the Lord. Happy those for whom this day of awakening comes before death, so that they do not go down to the grave with their hearts made gross by merely material prosperity, only to be aroused by the stroke of Divine retribution. Let us remember the punishment of Balaam, which came surely, though it seemed to tarry, when the prosperity of the wicked seems to us a stumbling block.
II. The promises of God's love are not less faithful and sure than His threatenings, though they also may seem slow of fulfilment. This is illustrated in the history of Caleb, who courageously served his people through a long lifetime, bringing back a good report of the land garrisoned by the enemy, which Moses sent him to explore. "Therefore Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance and thy children's forever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord thy God," (ver. 9). This promise was not forgotten. Caleb received, as an inheritance, that hill of Hebron which was assured to him in the name of the God whom he served. Thus the promises of God are yea and amen. - E. DE P.
Parallel VersesKJV: Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.