Out of the mouth of… a donkey?


In our weekly portion one reads the famous account of Balaam and his donkey as they were on their way to Balak, who was the King of Moav:

So Balaam arose in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and went with the leaders of Moab. But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORDstanding in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, the donkey turned off from the way and went into the field; but Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back into the way. Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path of the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed herself to the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall, so he struck her again. And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn to the right hand or the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam was angry and struck the donkey with his stick. And 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?” Then Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now.” And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?” And he said, “No.”

Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground. And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way was contrary to me. “But the donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, I would surely have killed you just now, and let her live.” And Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the way against me. Now then, if it is displeasing to you, I will turn back.” But the angel of the LORD said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but you shall speak only the word which I shall tell you.” So Balaam went along with the leaders of Balak.”

Number 22:21–35

This is a well-known story in the Bible, but there are some new insights that we can receive from it. After all, God’s Word is living and breathing! As I reread this story, I was struck by something that I had not seen before and have not heard talked about much: Balaam’s donkey spoke to him and he didn’t seem so surprised! If I were in Balaam’s shoes, I think I would be fairly surprised by my donkey talking to me. Perhaps this is a testimony of Balaam’s character, and his impulsiveness to act before thinking (or not really thinking at all), which got him into trouble in his disobedience to God.

Another amazing aspect of this account is that the donkey saw the Angel of the LORDbefore Balaam did; even animals can be used by God to fulfill His purpose in our lives. We should be careful to not limit God’s power to work through anyone or anything; He is able to accomplish the impossible in any way He sees fit!

Lastly, I’d like to point out that it wasn’t until the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes that he saw the Angel of the LORD. Only then did he understand why the donkey behaved as she did. For followers of Messiah, we must remember that nothing moves in the heavenly or earthly realm without God first allowing it to. Perhaps this is most evident in instances of salvation. Unless God removes the veil from a person’s eyes, he will not believe in Yeshua. Unless the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, no one will repent. Let us not be easily frustrated by God’s timing; He is orchestrating everything in His time according to His will.

Be faithful in the little that God is asking you to do, and He will move mountains through you! Only in His power can any of us accomplish anything of worth. I pray you are encouraged!

This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.