Summary: God was angry about Balaam’s greedy attitude and allowing the love of money to control him.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PASSAGE:
What greed will do - Men who trap animals in Africa say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it’s simple. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can’t get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him. - (Source unknown)
This passage is about Balaam, his donkey and the angel. God let Balaam go with Balak’s messengers, but He was angry about Balaam’s greedy attitude and allowing the love of money to control him (vv 22-30). Balaam claimed that he would not go against God just for money, but his greed just for wealth and prestige offered by the king blinded him so that he could not see how God was trying to stop him. We sometimes use the phrase “dumb animals,” but in this case the animal was smarter than the master. The donkey saw the angel of the Lord holding a sword and blocking the way, it turned aside three times and saved Balaam’s life but made him look foolish in the process (v. 29). He had reached a low state of life when God had to use a beast to speak.
The same God who opened the donkey’s mouth and eyes opened Balaam’s eyes so he could see the angel also (vv. 31-35). Balaam finally fell on his face and said “I have sinned” but there was no evidence of sincere repentance. God cautioned him but allowed him to continue on his journey.
Even though I may know what God wants me to do it can be easy for me to become blinded by the desire for money, possessions or prestige. I need to avoid Balaam’s mistake by looking past the allurement of fame or fortune to the long range benefits of following God.