If you are middle-aged or as old as I am, (51), you probably remember the TV show that had a talking horse named Mr. Ed. Much of the program’s humor stemmed from the fact the horse, Mister Ed would speak only to Wilbur his owner, as well as Ed’s notoriety as a troublemaker. Well there was a donkey in the Bible that talked also. And like his cousin, Mr. Ed on TV, he too was somewhat of a troublemaker in his owner’s eyes. Many times in my blogs I like to refer to God’s sense of humor. In the following story of Balaam and his donkey, God’s sense of humor is in full display, it is extremely humorous and it really happened. In the story we are reminded of what happens when we let own greed and arrogance guide our steps instead them being directed by the Word of God.
The story can be found in the book of Numbers chapter 22. Balaam had a reputation and was believed by some people to have special abilities. It was said of him,”Those you bless stay blessed; those you curse stay cursed”. He lived in an area near Babylon which is present day Iraq. There was a man named Balak, who was the king the king of Moab. He had a serious problem. The Israelites were being led into their promised land by God. Israel had just wiped out the Amorites and Moab was next. Israel was camped at their front door, ready to attack. Israel greatly outnumbered Moab and Balak knew they didn’t stand a chance against them.
Balak had heard of Balaam and requested his help. He sent messengers to Balaam asking him to come and curse Israel, so that he might have a chance to prevail against them. Balaam told the messengers that he would sleep on it. That night God came to Balaam in a dream and instructed him not to go with Balak’s messengers because the people that Balak wanted him to curse was Israel, His chosen people. So Balaam told Balak’s messengers to go home. The king of the Moabites did not accept that answer, so he sent more messengers to Balaam offering him great amounts of money, if he would just come and curse the Israelites. The promise of great riches enticed Balaam, his greed surfaced and he prayed to God once again to see if God would change his mind. God had already spoken to Balaam and instructed him in the matter, so this prayer did nothing but make God angry. But, God told Balaam, sure go ahead…. Authors note: God sometimes lets us go ahead with our own folly, after He has already told us no, especially when greed is involved. So when morning came, Balaam left with Balak’s messengers. God being angry had decided to kill Balaam for his disobedience using an angel to carry out the death sentence.
The story with the donkey begins in Numbers 22:21 ……Balaam gets up in the morning, saddles his donkey, and goes off with the messengers. An angel of God holding a sword appears in the road, as the Lord was angered by Balaam’s behavior, and the angel has come to slay him. However, Balaam cannot see the angel, but the donkey can, so the donkey swerves off the road into the ditch. Balaam beats and beats the donkey trying to get it to go back onto the road. But the donkey heads off in a dead run through a grape patch, with a narrow fence on both sides. As it is running through the vineyard, the donkey again sees God’s angel blocking the way and runs into the fence, crushing Balaam’s foot against the fence. Balaam began hitting the donkey again. As God’s angel blocks this very narrow passageway, there was no getting through on the right or left. Fearing the angel, Balaam’s donkey sits down on the ground. Balaam becomes enraged and continues beating the donkey with his stick.
Then God gives speech to the donkey. The donkey says to Balaam: “What have I ever done to you that you have beat me these three times?” Balaam answers “Because you are playing games with me! If I had a sword I would have killed you by now. The donkey answered back, “Am I not your trusty donkey on whom you’ve ridden for years right up until now? Have I ever done anything like this to you before? Have I?” Balaam says, “No.” Then God opens Balaam eye’s so he can see what is going on: He sees God’s angel blocking the way, brandishing a sword. Balaam falls to the ground, his face in the dirt. God’s angel says to Balaam: “Why have you beaten your poor donkey these three times? The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it hadn’t, I would have killed you by this time, but not the donkey. I would have let the donkey go.” Balaam says to the angel, “I have sinned. I had no idea you were standing in the road blocking my way. If you don’t like what I’m doing, I’ll head back.” But God’s angel said to Balaam, “Go ahead and go with them. But only say what I tell you to say—absolutely no other word.”
Laughter? Can you say laughter from heaven? Like a heat seeking missile, God’s humor goes out seeking those of self-importance to pop their bubble. And God’s humor shows no favorites; “It delights in humiliating the proud and embarrassing the arrogant”.
God chose both to make the donkey speak and to tell us the whole story in His Word to mock and ridicule the greedy and haughty Balaam.
Here is some God humor……
- God in his own sense of humor shows us that Balaam, the man who king Balak wishes to subdue the great army of Israel with his words, cannot even subdue his donkey with a stick.
- Balaam, who claims to have prophetic insight in Numbers 24:4, 17 cannot even see the angel which his donkey easily sees three times.
- Balaam who claims to have prophetic speech since the Lord puts words into his mouth (Numbers 22:38; 23:5, 12, 16), is now matched by his donkey talking with the voice of the living God coming from its mouth.
- Balaam, who boasts that “his knowledge is from the Most High” (24:16), has to admit, “I do not know what the donkey knows.
- Balaam, who is the supposedly the wisest of the wise, is beat in a verbal exchange with the most stupid of beasts, his own donkey.
- Balaam, who says that he would slay his donkey if only he could find a sword, cannot see the sword that the angel is carrying.
NOW THAT’S FUNNY. THAT IS GOD HUMOR!
In this writer’s opinion, Balaam is shown by God to be lower than his donkey: more unseeing in his inability to detect the angel, more stupid in being defeated verbally by his donkey, and horrible in beating it with his stick where the donkey responded to him with calm speech. The ridicule of Balaam by God using the donkey shows the reality of his reputation in God’s eyes. It aims to demonstrate that Balaam, who was intent on going to the king of Moab without God’s consent, thinking he was wise, was in reality a fool, a man outwitted even by his own donkey, a dumb beast.
So if you ask God about something, and His answer is no, do not let your own greed, pride, arrogance, or your own reputation go against what God has told you. Do not think yourself important in your own eyes, as our only wisdom comes from our Lord. But if you do, and your poodle, Siamese cat, or your canary starts talking to you, straight from God’s mouth……you would do well to pay attention and repent.