One of the most unusual stories in the Bible is found in Numbers 22, when Baalam was saved by a donkey three times, and was even spoken to by the donkey. You might ask, what is the value in considering this story, and the role of a donkey? To put the matter into perspective, we must realize that though Baalam “believed” in God, he was godless, and worse, one who wielded certain spiritual powers, even to the point of bringing a curse on certain peoples. As God is always in the business of salvation, the donkey will be God’s means of seeking to save this man, not only from what he was being instructed to do by the enemy of Israel, Balak, but to bring this man to true faith. So, what are God’s ways in this matter?
We find Baalam traveling in company with certain men sent by Balak, but with the intent to be disobedient to God, and curse Israel. Thus, the Lord sends “the angel of the Lord,” with drawn sword to take his life. The path is open before Baalam on the back of the donkey, but then the donkey sees the angel ahead standing in the way. He turns aside into the field. Baalam, who did not see the angel, is very angry at the donkey. They continue in a vineyard, and again, the donkey perceives the angel with the drawn sword. Apparently, with a wall on one side, the donkey presses against it to pass, thus hurting the foot of Baalam. Again, Baalam is angry. The third time the donkey sees the angel is when there is a wall on both sides of the path…there is no room to pass. She will “fall down under Balaam. Balaam is furious, begins to beat the donkey, until,”…the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she spoke to Balaam…” You would think that at this point, Balaam would realize that the Lord was speaking to him, when his trusty donkey speaks to him so clearly. It is only when the Lord opens the eyes of Balaam, and he realizes his peril in seeing the angel with the drawn sword, that he “…bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.”
The point is this. God used circumstances to hedge Balaam in, and this in order to speak to him in no uncertain terms. He brought him to the place where he would realize that indeed it was God who was speaking to him, that this was not a matter of a disobedient donkey, but a disobedient “prophet.” Insensitive as he was to the overtures of God, to arrest his attention, never bothering to inquire of God, it would take a circumstance where he could not escape from, to be brought face to face with the true issues at hand.
How do we apply this lessons in this story to our lives? God uses circumstances to get our attention. He sometimes hedges us in so that we are brought face to face with the reality of Himself, and to the point where we are willing to hear what He will say to us. The “donkey” in this story was actually Balaam…hardheaded, and certainly not sensitive to what the Lord was saying to him. In Psalm 32:9, we read, “…Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule (donkey)…” Why? Because we are apt to not realize that God is willing to “…instruct us and teach us in the way which thou (we) should go.” (v.8) May we trust God to give us grace to grant Him access to our hearts and minds in the circumstances of life, waiting upon Him, believing Him to intervene, to instruct and teach us, and this because “…He careth for you..” and me.