how a talking donkey saved a prophet

Balaam and donkey
Balaam, donkey and angel with sword

How did a donkey save a prophet? Why was the donkey, an apparently dumb weight-bearing animal, able to see into the spiritual realm but his master the prophet remained blinded? The following account gives us the answer.

Food for thought: God can enable even an animal see, understand and talk sense. What did the animal gain? He had faithfully served his master since the day he was owned. How did the master treat the donkey? Was Balaam grateful that his donkey saved him from instant death? Did he repent and set the donkey free from bondage? There was no record of any kind acts on the part of Balaam. Instead he went on to his personal destruction in a subsequent war against Israel. If he made his donkey accompany him it could mean that the donkey was killed in the war too due to the personal greed for power and money of his master. Sad end for a gifted prophet and his faithful donkey. Take note that God spoke and warned Balaam repeatedly. He even used the donkey to prevent Balaam from self-destruction.

Meditate on this:
1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

The account of a faithful talking donkey who saved his master’s life:

“Then the children of Israel moved, and camped in the plains of Moab on the side of the Jordan across from Jericho.
Now Balak (king of Moab)saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites (already defeated by the Israelites). And Moab was exceedingly afraid of the people because they were many, and Moab was sick with dread because of the children of Israel. ..Then he sent messengers to Balaam (a prophet powerful in cursing) ..to call him, saying: “Look, a people has come from Egypt. See, they cover the face of the earth, and are settling next to me! Therefore please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”

So the elders …came to Balaam and spoke to him …So Balaam said to God, “Balak…king of Moab, has sent to me, saying, ‘….’”

And God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”

…Then Balak again sent princes, more numerous and more honorable than they…“Thus says Balak..: ‘Please let nothing hinder you from coming to me; for I will certainly honor you greatly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Therefore please come, curse this people for me.’”

…So Balaam rose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab.

Interaction between Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel:

Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the Lord took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. Now the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road. Then the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck her again. Then the Angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff.

Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”

And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!”

So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?”

And he said, “No.”

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.”

And Balaam said to the Angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back.”

Then the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but only the word that I speak to you, that you shall speak.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

…And Balaam said to Balak, “Look, I have come to you! Now, have I any power at all to say anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must speak.”…

(The above account was recorded in Numbers 22.)

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