donkey could see the angel of the Lord. But Balaam could not and he could not understand why his donkey was behaving uncharacteristically. The Night before, the Lord had told Balaam to go to Balak- “But do only what I tell you to do”(Numbers 22:20). But Balaam wasn’t able to see the angel of the Lord. He was too absorbed with the task in hand, and his idea of how it should be done. When the Donkey tried to avoid the angel who was blocking their path, Balaam was embarrassed that his donkey appeared to be out of his control. Balaam beat his Donkey, who had never let him down before, rather than try and see what might be upsetting him. Balaam was so blind to the problem, that the Lord gave the donkey the power of speech in order that Balaam could see things as they were. When Balaam understood the donkey’s reason for behaving erratically, he was able to see the angel of the Lord, realise how he had been resisting the Lord, and receive the message the Lord wanted to give him.
So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials. But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again. Then the angel of the Lord moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all. This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff. Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him.
It can be very hard to see beyond the end of our noses as we become absorbed by our daily lives. I pray that I can keep my heart and my eyes open to the Lord. I pray that whatever I am absorbed in, I might always keep an eye out for the angel of the lord standing in my path, waiting to deliver his message from God.
Numbers 22:21-23:30, Luke 1:57-80, Psalms 58:1-11, Proverbs 11:12-13