Opening Prayer

Lord, as I study your Word today, open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law (Psalm 119:18).


24 Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness. When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him and he spoke his message:

“The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor,
    the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,
the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,
    who sees a vision from the Almighty,[a]
    who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

“How beautiful are your tents, Jacob,
    your dwelling places, Israel!

“Like valleys they spread out,
    like gardens beside a river,
like aloes planted by the Lord,
    like cedars beside the waters.
Water will flow from their buckets;
    their seed will have abundant water.

“Their king will be greater than Agag;
    their kingdom will be exalted.

“God brought them out of Egypt;
    they have the strength of a wild ox.
They devour hostile nations
    and break their bones in pieces;
    with their arrows they pierce them.
Like a lion they crouch and lie down,
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse them?

“May those who bless you be blessed
    and those who curse you be cursed!”

10 Then Balak’s anger burned against Balaam. He struck his hands together and said to him, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed them these three times. 11 Now leave at once and go home! I said I would reward you handsomely, but the Lord has kept you from being rewarded.”

12 Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell the messengers you sent me, 13 ‘Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything of my own accord, good or bad, to go beyond the command of the Lord—and I must say only what the Lord says’? 14 Now I am going back to my people, but come, let me warn you of what this people will do to your people in days to come.”

Balaam’s Fourth Message

15 Then he spoke his message:

“The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor,
    the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,
16 the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,
    who has knowledge from the Most High,
who sees a vision from the Almighty,
    who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

17 “I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
    a scepter will rise out of Israel.
He will crush the foreheads of Moab,
    the skulls[b] of[c] all the people of Sheth.[d]
18 Edom will be conquered;
    Seir, his enemy, will be conquered,
    but Israel will grow strong.
19 A ruler will come out of Jacob
    and destroy the survivors of the city.”

Balaam’s Fifth Message

20 Then Balaam saw Amalek and spoke his message:

“Amalek was first among the nations,
    but their end will be utter destruction.”

Balaam’s Sixth Message

21 Then he saw the Kenites and spoke his message:

“Your dwelling place is secure,
    your nest is set in a rock;
22 yet you Kenites will be destroyed
    when Ashur takes you captive.”

Balaam’s Seventh Message

23 Then he spoke his message:

“Alas! Who can live when God does this?[e]
24     Ships will come from the shores of Cyprus;
they will subdue Ashur and Eber,
    but they too will come to ruin.”

25 Then Balaam got up and returned home, and Balak went his own way.


  1. Numbers 24:4 Hebrew Shaddai; also in verse 16
  2. Numbers 24:17 Samaritan Pentateuch (see also Jer. 48:45); the meaning of the word in the Masoretic Text is uncertain.
  3. Numbers 24:17 Or possibly Moab, / batter
  4. Numbers 24:17 Or all the noisy boasters
  5. Numbers 24:23 Masoretic Text; with a different word division of the Hebrew The people from the islands will gather from the north.

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.


‘…bless – that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.’1 Ask God how he wants to use you as a channel of his blessing.

Think Further

In his first oracle, Balaam was unable to curse God’s people;2 in the second, he was compelled to pronounce a blessing.3 In the oracles that follow, the theme of blessings and curses gathers momentum. The third oracle is a prophecy. It describes the breadth and beauty of the land God’s people will soon inherit (vs 5–7a), refers to the future king who will reign over this exalted kingdom (v 7b), and concludes by echoing the Abrahamic promise: ‘May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!’ (v 9b). The far-reaching implications of this promise are elaborated on in the remaining oracles.

Despite Balak’s angry dismissal of Balaam, apparently without pay (vs 10,11), God isn’t done yet! Four times, Balaam ‘spoke his message’ (vs 15,20,21,23) of stern warnings about the certainty of judgment, emphasized by the repeated ‘will’, coupled with words like crush, conquered, destroy, ruin – against anyone who tried to thwart God’s purposes. Attacks or curses against God’s people would not just be dismal failures but would ultimately rebound on those who attempted them, with fatal consequences.

Balaam was a seer who clearly saw God at work and heard his message, but he failed to be a doer of God’s word. Before returning home, Balaam had formulated a strategy for the downfall of the Israelites, not by cursing but by seducing them, to sin and thereby bring curses upon themselves.4 Although his attempts were partly successful, for God’s people did succumb to sin, God will not be thwarted and Balaam will not escape judgment.5


Reflect on James 1:22–27. In what ways are you failing as a doer of God’s Word? What will you do about this?

Closing prayer

Heavenly Father, open my eyes and my heart to your will; sanctify me through your Word.

Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by kingstar

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