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And the Lord met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus.
And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt-offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, What hath the LORD spoken?
And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor :
God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Behold, I have received commandment to bless ; and he hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it.
He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel, the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.
God brought them out of Egypt: he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel ; according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought?
Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion ; he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.
And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all.
But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the LORD speaketh, that I must do ?
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS: It may reasonably be inferred, from the numerous sacrifices which Balaam directed Balak to offer, that he entertained hopes of drawing the favour of the LORD
from the Israelites to the Moabites; but it pleased God to disappoint the unjust designs of the king and the mercenary views of the prophet.
The expression, Balaam took up his parable, signifies, that he spake what the Lord inspired him to utter, Balaam certainly had, at this time, a strong Divine impulse on him; the power of the LORD, which had lately been displayed in enabling an animal, naturally dumb, to speak distinct words, and hold rational converse, was now exhibited in obliging him to speak against his inclination, in favour of Israel ; which, if properly considered, was as great a miracle as the former, and such as none but the great Being, who created the organs of speech, could have effected.
The unfaithful prophet was now sensible, and compelled to confess, that it was in vain to oppose the Divine will; and it was made known through him, that under the guidance and protection of the LORD, the nation which (for the sake of a paltry reward) he had wished to curse, should be separated from all other nations, and that it should multiply and prosper upon earth, to an astonishing degree : and not only so, but that the righteous Israelites should be encouraged to hope for a felicity beyond the grave, which would disarm death of its terrors.
It is evident, that Balaam had a desire to curse Israel ; and that he thought it possible to conciliate the favour of the LORD towards the Moabites, by repeated sacrifices; for when he returned to Balak the second time, he was inspired to inform him, that God was unchangeable in his Divine counsels, and not to be diverted fr his purposes, like variable man; which
mplies, that they had both entertained a different idea of the Deity It seems strange, that Balaam should say by Divine in
spiration, spiration, that God had not beheld iniquity in Jacob, nei. ther had he seen perverseness in Israel ; when it appears from the preceding part of the history, that the Israelites were remarkable for their rebellious disposition. The meaning appears to be, that, as a nation, they had not arrived at such a degree of wickedness as to provoke GOD to curse them, or give them up as a prey to their enemies; on the contrary, the Lord God Himself vouchsafed to dwell among them as their King, and did not approve of enchantments and divinations being employed against them
The subsequent part of the prophecy foretold the future conquests of the Israelites. The king of Moab, fearful that he should hear a prediction against his own nation in particular, interrupted the prophet, and for a time relinquished his desire of having them accursed.
What Balaam foretold, respecting the worldly prosperity of the Israelites, was remarkably fulfilled, as we shall read in the future part of the history; from whence we may infer, that the death of the righteous among them was attended with comfortable hopes respecting futurity; for the prophet, who spake by Divine inspiration, seems to have envied them for the latter, rather than for the former blessing.
How dreadful must be the death-bed of a man who has lived in a constant course of wickedness! “* Ima. gination cannot furnish ideas strong enough to describe the misery of a sinner, who is expiring with all his senses about him : looking back on his past life with unavailing remorse ; looking forward to eternity with the expectation of intolerable torments. How different is the condition of him, who, in his last hours, has the approbation of his own conscience, and the inward consolations of the Holy Spirit! He regards death as the • See Bishop Sherlock's Sermon on this text.
gate of life ; he waits with patience and tranquillity for that summons, which, he trusts and believes, will call him to perpetual joys, will introduce him to the presence
of his God and SAVIOUR, and restore him 20 the society of those dear relatives, who are either gone before to their heavenly rest, or, who, after their pilgrimage on earth is finished, will join him in the blest abodes.
From this slight view of the different conditions of the wicked and the righteous at the hour of death, an hour which will come to all, who would not join in Balaam's wish, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let
my latter end be like his? If such is really our ardent desire, let us endeavour to live the life of the righteous ; and what that is, the Scriptures will fully inform us.
BALAAM CONTINUETH TO BLESS ISRAEL-HL DEL
PARTETH FROM MOAB.
From Numb. Chap. xxiii. xxiv. And Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place: peradventure it will please God, that thou mayest curse me them from thence.
And Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looked towards Jeshimon.
And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven bullocks, and seven rams.
And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar. And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to VOL. II. F
bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for
eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes, and the Spirit of God came upon him.
And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open
hath said: He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:
How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob; and thy taber. nacles, O Israel !
As the vallies are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.
He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.
God brought him forth out of Egypt, he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn; he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with arrows.
He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion : who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.
And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together : and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.
'Therefore now.flee thou to thy place : I thought to promote thee unto great honour, but lo, the LORD hath kept thee back from honour,