Opening Prayer

Thank you, gracious Father, for your lovingkindness. Help me to rest within your presence and your abundant provisions for me.

Read NUMBERS 22:1-20

Balak Summons Balaam

22 Then the Israelites traveled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan across from Jericho.

Now Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites.

The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.”

So Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor, near the Euphrates River, in his native land. Balak said:

“A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.”

The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said.

“Spend the night here,” Balaam said to them, “and I will report back to you with the answer the Lord gives me.” So the Moabite officials stayed with him.

God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?”

10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 11 ‘A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.’”

12 But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.”

13 The next morning Balaam got up and said to Balak’s officials, “Go back to your own country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.”

14 So the Moabite officials returned to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”

15 Then Balak sent other officials, more numerous and more distinguished than the first. 16 They came to Balaam and said:

“This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, 17 because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.”

18 But Balaam answered them, “Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God. 19 Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me.”

20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”

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New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.’1

Think Further

The grapevine had been buzzing about the humiliating defeats of Sihon and Og at the hands of the Israelites (v 2). Now here were these very people, multitudes of them, camped out in King Balak’s own backyard! Both then and now, individuals, communities, and nations tend to get jittery about real or perceived threats to their security (v 3). Fear can provoke irrational reactions and overreactions. Almost forty years before, Israel had suffered greatly when a terrified Egyptian ruler had resorted to strategies of exploitation and extermination.2 Moab’s king turns to the spiritual underworld to hire a hitman (vs 5,6)! Today, too, nations are quick to resort to various tactics – political pressure, military might, economic sanctions, discriminatory legislation, social oppression – to fend off the slightest threat to their security or prosperity.

It could appear that Balak was simply acting as a responsible head of state, taking pre-emptive action to defend his borders. Surely, however, he was not uninformed about this people that had ‘come out of Egypt’ (v 5)? Israel and Moab went a long way back, tracing their ancestry to Abraham and Lot.3 In view of this kinship, God had warned Israel, ‘Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land.’4 Despite Israel’s military prowess, Moab’s fears of invasion were groundless. Nevertheless, Balak goes on the offensive. He intends Balaam’s curse to weaken the Israelites so that he could ‘drive them out of the land’ (v 6). God had promised Abraham, ‘I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.’5 Balak arrogantly attempts to thwart this divine blessing (v 6). It was not self-defense but self-interest that prompted his actions.


As individuals, institutions, communities, or nations, how might we prevent a healthy self-preservation instinct from turning into an obsessive and unhealthy paranoia?

Closing prayer

Lord, I open my heart to receive all the blessing that you generously pour on me. I want to rejoice when I see you blessing others. Keep me from envy, resentment, and the temptation to resist your will for them.

Last Updated on August 14, 2023 by kingstar

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