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1 And when Balaam sawe that it pleased the Lord to blesse Israel, hee went not, as at other times to seeke for inchantments, but hee set his face toward the wildernesse.

2 And Balaam lift vp his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents, according to their Tribes: and the Spirit of God came vpon him.

3 And he tooke vp his parable, and said, Balaam the sonne of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:

4 Hee hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almightie, falling into a trance, but hauing his eyes open:

5 How goodly are thy tents, O Iacob, and thy Tabernacles, O Israel!

6 As the valleyes are they spread forth, as gardens by the riuer side, as the trees of Lign-Aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as Cedar trees beside the waters.

7 He shall powre the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his King shall be higher then Agag, and his Kingdome shall be exalted.

8 God brought him forth out of Egypt, he hath as it were the strength of an Unicorne: he shall eate vp the nations his enemies, and shall breake their bones, and pierce them thorow with his arrowes.

9 Hee couched, he lay downe as a Lyon, and as a great Lyon: who shal stirre him vp? Blessed is hee that blesseth thee, and cursed is hee that curseth thee.

10 And Balaks anger was kindled against Balaam, and hee smote his hands together: and Balak said vnto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.

11 Therefore now, flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee vnto great honour, but loe, the Lord hath kept thee backe from honour.

12 And Balaam said vnto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest vnto me, saying,

13 If Balak would give mee his house full of siluer and gold, I cannot goe beyond the commandement of the Lord, to doe either good or bad of mine owne mind? But what the Lord saith, that will I speake.

14 And now beholde, I goe vnto my people: come therefore, and I will aduertise thee, what this people shall doe to thy people in the latter dayes.

15 And hee tooke vp his parable, and said, Balaam the sonne of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open, hath said:

16 He hath said which heard the words of God, and knewe the knowledge of the most High, which sawe the vision of the Almightie, falling into a trance, but hauing his eyes open.

17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: There shall come a starre out of Iacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

18 And Edom shall bee a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies, and Israel shall doe valiantly.

19 Out of Iacob shall come he that shall haue dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the citie.

20 And when he looked on Amalek, he tooke vp his parable, and sayd, Amalek was the first of the nations, but his latter end shall bee, that hee perish for euer.

21 And hee looked on the Kenites, and tooke vp his parable, and saide, Strong is thy dwelling place, and thou puttest thy nest in a rocke:

22 Neuerthelesse, the Kenite shall be wasted, vntil Asshur shal carie thee away captiue.

23 And he tooke vp his parable, and said, Alas! who shall liue when God doeth this?

24 And shippes shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shal afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and hee also shall perish for euer.

25 And Balaam rose vp, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.

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Commentary for Numbers 24

Balaam, leaving divinations, prophesies the happiness of Israel. (1-9) Balak dismisses Balaam in anger. (10-14) Balaam's prophecies. (15-25)1-9 Now Balaam spake not his own sense, but the language of the Spirit that came upon him. Many have their eyes open who have not their hearts open; are enlightened, but not sanctified. That knowledge which puffs men up with pride, will but serve to light them to hell, whither many go with their eyes open. The blessing is nearly the same as those given before. He admires in Israel, their beauty. The righteous, doubtless, is more excellent than his neighbour. Their fruitfulness and increase. Their honour and advancement. Their power and victory. He looks back upon what had been done for them. Their power and victory. He looks back upon what had been done for them. Their courage and security. The righteous are bold as a lion, not when assaulting others, but when at rest, because God maketh them to dwell in safety. Their influence upon their neighbours. God takes what is done to them, whether good or evil, as done to himself.

10-14 This vain attempt to curse Israel is ended. Balak broke out into a rage against Balaam, and expressed great vexation. Balaam has a very full excuse; God restrained him from saying what he would have said, and constrained him to say what he would not have uttered.

15-25 Under the powerful influence of the Spirit of prophecy, Balaam foretold the future prosperity and extensive dominion of Israel. Balaam boasts that his eyes are open. The prophets were in old times called seers. He had heard the words of God, which many do who neither heed them, nor hear God in them. He knew the knowledge of the Most High. A man may be full of the knowledge of God, yet utterly destitute of the grace of God. He calls God the Most High and the Almighty. No man could seem to express a greater respect to God; yet he had no true fear of him, love to him, nor faith in him; so far a man may go toward heaven, and yet come short of it at last. Here is Balaam's prophecy concerning Him who should be the crown and glory of his people Israel; who is David in the type; but our Lord Jesus, the promised Messiah, is chiefly pointed at, and of him it is an illustrious prophecy. Balaam, a wicked man, shall see Christ, but shall not see him nigh; not see him as Job, who saw him as his Redeemer, and saw him for himself. When he comes in the clouds, every eye shall see him; but many will see him, as the rich man in hell saw Abraham, afar off. He shall come out of Jacob, and Israel, as a Star and a Sceptre; the former denoting his glory and lustre; the latter his power and authority. Christ shall be King, not only of Jacob and Israel, but of all the world; so that all shall be either governed by his golden sceptre, or dashed in pieces by his iron rod. Balaam prophesied concerning the Amalekites and Kenites, part of whose country he had now in view. Even a nest in a rock will not be a lasting security. Here is a prophecy that looks as far forward as to the Greeks and Romans. He acknowledges all the revolutions of states and kingdoms to be the Lord's doing. These events will make such desolations, that scarcely any will escape. They that live then, will be as brands plucked out of the fire. May God fit us for the worst of times! Thus Balaam, instead of cursing the church, curses Amalek the first, and Rome the last enemy of the church. Not Rome pagan only, but Rome papal also; antichrist and all the antichristian powers. Let us ask ourselves, Do we in knowledge, experience, or profession, excel Balaam? No readiness of speech, even in preaching or prayer, no gifts of knowledge or prophecy, are in themselves different from, or superior to the boasted gifts of him who loved the wages of unrighteousness, and died the enemy of God. Simple dependence on the Redeemer's atoning blood and sanctifying grace, cheerful submission to the Divine will, constant endeavours to glorify God and benefit his people, these are less splendid, but far more excellent gifts, and always accompany salvation. No boasting hypocrite ever possessed these; yet the feeblest believer has something of them, and is daily praying for more of them.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Numbers 24

  • Stephen
    Before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit would come upon men as He chose. Balaam is an example here, but remember King Saul? The Spirit came upon him and he prophesied with the sons of the prophets. However, like Balaam, he was never saved. Today, when we get saved, we received the Holy Spirit and are sealed unto the day of redemption. He is our 'Earnest'. Once saved, always saved! Praise God!
  • BSP
    King Balak really wanted Balaam to curse the people of Israel, but Jehovah God was with his people and would not let this happen.
  • A disciple
    Once saved, not always saved! And even greatest gifts and calling of God on a man, does not guarantee a lifetime of doing God's will, or entrance into the kingdom of God. Whatever Balaam had at one time, he evidently thought better to have the gifts and favor of the heathen, than the blessings of God's people. Even though he once spoke good from God for Israel, he after connived to make them sin.
  • Irene123
    Num. 14-25; God used Balaam, a wicked prophet, to prophesy of the Messiah - Jesus Christ!! God can, and does, to this day, use sinners to prophesy (witness) of Him. What I don't understand is-why was Balaam, a prophet of God, living in Moab - at the time Israel settled in Canaan ..... ???
  • Irene123
    Unicorns - 'could' have been rhinos, or an animal that is now extinct. It 'could' have been a horse with a horn. Whatever they were - or weren't - their reality or non- has nothing to do with Acts 2:37-38.
  • Sandy
    Unicorns ARE REAL! Verse 8

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