Numbers 24:10
Then Balak's anger burned against Balaam, and he struck his hands together and said to Balaam, "I summoned you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have persisted in blessing them these three times.
Sermons
Balak Relinquishes His ProjectD. Young Numbers 24:10-14
Balaam and BalakD. C. Hughes, M. A.Numbers 24:10-19
Worldly Profit Should not Withdraw Us from Christian DutiesW. Attersoll.Numbers 24:10-19
He sees now clearly that there is no chance of prevailing over Israel by means of a curse, and that any further appeal to the prophet would only bring words more galling to his pride and more menacing to his position, if indeed such words could be found. Considerations of policy and prudence need no longer restrain him in speaking out all his mind to the prophet.

I. BALAK'S TREATMENT OF HIS UNSUCCESSFUL ACCOMPLICE.

1. An outbreak of selfish wrath. Balaam indeed did not deserve much sympathy, seeing how he had played into Balak's hands from the very beginning. But if he had deserved sympathy ever so much, he would not have met with it. Balak has eyes, heart, and recollection for nothing but his own disappointment. He has no real sympathetic regard for Balaam, no consideration for one who is far from home, and whose professional reputation all around will be sadly damaged by this failure on a critical occasion. Wicked men in the hour of disaster show small consideration for their accomplices. Those in whose hearts the temptation of some great reward for evil-doing is beginning to prevail should consider that if they fail they will meet with scant mercy or excuse. When the Balaks of the world get a Balaam into their bands, they look on him just as a tool. If the tool does its work as they want it, well and good; keep it carefully for further use; but if it turns out a failure, fling it without more ado on the dunghill. Balak acts here towards Balaam just as he might be expected to act.

2. He lays the whole blame on Balaam. He does not consider that the evil purposes of his own heart must needs be frustrated. Three prophecies, full of solemn and weighty matter, uttered in his hearing, have not made him in the slightest degree conscious of the folly and iniquity of his project. He sees indeed that the project must fail, but is blind as a bat to the real reason of the failure. All that he has heard concerning Jehovah, his character, his past dealings with Israel, and his purposes for them, has not impressed him one whit, save with the fact that somehow, he cannot get his own way. His curse project has ended in a huge, humiliating, exasperating failure, and Balaam must bear the blame of it. Wicked men cannot be got to give Heaven credit for all its timely and irresistible interferences with their darling schemes. The fault in Balak's angry eye rested with Balaam, and with him alone. "The Lord hath kept thee back from honour." A true word indeed, but not applicable in the way in which Balak intended it. The Lord had kept Balaam back from honour, but not from the paltry honour which Balak would have conferred on him. The lesson for us is, that whenever any selfish plan of ours fails, we should not, like this blind, besotted king, go laying blame elsewhere, as if it would exonerate ourselves. Balaam of course was to blame, grievously to blame, a great deal more than Balak, seeing he sinned against greater light. But we must not let the grievous and conspicuous faults of others cast our own into the shade. We are at the best very poor judges of the transgressions of our fellow-men. When we fail in anything, it is far the wisest, kindest, and most profitable course to give diligent heed to such causes of failure as are in our own heart. Whatever disappointments may come to us in life, we shall never fail in anything of real importance if only we keep our own hearts right with God.

II. BALAK'S VAIN ATTEMPT TO GET PROMPT RIDDANCE OF THE PROPHET. He thinks it is enough to say, "Stop." But as he was not able to make Balaam speak what he wanted and when he wanted, so neither is he able to make Balaam cease when the Lord's message is on his lips. God opened Balaam's mouth, and it is not for Balak to close it. Before Balak is left, his impotence shall be manifested in the completest possible way. He had been the thoughtless and unwitting means of turning on the stream of glorious prophecy, and now he finds he cannot stop that stream at will. Jehovah did not seek this occasion, but when it is furnished he deems it well to avail himself of it to the full. And now Balak finds that, whether he will or not, he must listen to the doom of his own people, expressly and clearly announced. Learn that when you begin the headstrong course of making everything on earth - and perhaps, after Balak's fashion, in heaven as well - subservient to self, you cannot stop whenever the consequences begin to get troublesome. Balak said, "Let my will be done, not because it is right, but because it is mine," and he was not contented with a refusal, once or even twice. He must have it a third time, and then he finds that the choice is no longer under his control. Let us choose wisely while we are able to choose. - Y.







Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam.
I. THE CAUSE OF BALAK'S ANGER. That Balaam had not fulfilled the terms of his contract (vers. 10, 11).

1. Consider the reason and nature of the contract. Urgency of case. Great reputation of Balaam.

2. Consider the position and reputation of Balaam.

(1)He is called a prophet (2 Peter 2:16).

(2)God held communication with him (Numbers 22:9, 12, 20, 31; Numbers 23:4, 5).

(3)He was also a warrior-chief (Numbers 31:8).

(4)He was a man of high gifts of intellect and genius, besides having a knowledge of the true God.

3. Consider how Balaam had failed in his contract (Numbers 23; Numbers 24:1-9).

II. BALAAM'S SELF-JUSTIFYING ANSWER (vers. 12, 13).

1. Was it true? Yes (Numbers 22:13-18).

2. If true, why did he leave home? He loved money (2 Peter 2:15).

3. If God Commanded him to go (Numbers 22:20), why was he blamed for going (Numbers 22:22)?(1) God's permission was based upon Barnum's strong desire to go. God gave him up to his own lust.(2) God's displeasure arose from the fact that Balaam was so determined to go and do that which he was told he must not do. Sinners must not think that their sin is any the less odious because God permits it.

III. BALAAM'S PARABLE (vers. 14-19).

1. The situation.(1) Behind him lay the vast expanse of desert extending to his native Assyria.(2) On his left the red mountains of Edom and Seir.(3) Immediately below him lay the vast encampment of Israel.(4) Beyond them, on the west of Jordan, rose the hills of Palestine — the promised land.

2. The parable.(1) The condition of the prophet when he had the vision (ver. 16).(2) The leading subject of the parable — the mighty and glorious King of Israel.

(a)The prophet sees Him in person.

(b)He is able to distinguish His nationality.

(c)He sees Him as a mighty conqueror.(3) That this refers to Christ is clear to any one who accepts the testimony of God's Word.Lessons:

1. God intrusts superior talents to men who may abuse them.

2. One besetting sin may be enough to dim the most splendid abilities and destroy the most brilliant reputation.

3. Balaam's failure to curse Israel is a significant type of the fact that he whom God hath blessed can no man curse.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

Spake I not also to thy messengers.
Matters of profit must not carry us beyond our calling, we must not pursue them when we have no warrant to desire them. A notable example hereof we have in Gideon, he had a kingdom offered unto him; for the men of Israel said unto him, "Reign thou over us, both thou and thy son, and thy son's son." He saw no calling from God and therefore refused it, and betook himself to a private life, saying (Judges 8:22, 23). The like we see in our Saviour Christ, He refused to be made a temporal king (John 6:15). We see the disciples of Christ left all, and neglected the service of themselves, and the seeking of their own benefit for the service of God (Matthew 19:27). Whereby we see that albeit profits be in time and place to be looked after, yet we must all look to have our warrant in seeking for them. The reasons remain to be considered, to enforce this truth, and to gain our affections to the embracing of it.

1. For, first, by too much following the profits of this life, we may lose a greater profit. If we should win the world, and lose our souls; if we should catch the riches of this life, and crack ,the peace of a good conscience, it would prove in the end a small gain unto us.

2. Secondly, the things of this life serve only for a season. The hope that we have is this — we look for a kingdom. We cannot have a heaven in this life, and another in the life to come.The uses come now to be stood upon.

1. First, we see it is a dangerous bait to be in love with the world.

2. Secondly, we see that our own private respects are not the chief things that we must respect, but seek a sanctified use of the blessings of this life, and a warrant to our consciences for the right using of them. These blessings of God become curses unto us unless we use them lawfully.

3. Lastly, this doctrine serveth to reprove those that esteem earthly things above heavenly, and mind their profits more than their salvation. These invert the course of nature and turn all things upside down, they set the earth above the heavens, and thrust down the heavens beneath the earth. This is like that confusion and disorder which the wise man speaketh of (Ecclesiastes 10:6, 7).

(W. Attersoll.)

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