In this chapter we have Balak and Balaam busy at work to do Israel a
mischief, and, for ought that appears, neither Moses nor the elders of
Israel know any thing of the matter, nor are in a capacity to break the
snare; but God, who keeps Israel, and neither slumbers nor sleeps,
baffles the attempt, without any intercession or contrivance of theirs.
I. The first attempt to curse Israel.
1. The preparation made for it by sacrifice,
2. The contrary instruction God gave Balaam,
3. The blessing Balaam was compelled to pronounce upon Israel, instead
of a curse,
4. The great disappointment of Balak,
II. The second attempt, in the same manner made, and in the same manner
III. Preparations made for a third attempt
the issue of which we have in the next chapter.
|Balaam Constrained to Bless Israel; The Blessing Pronounced on Israel.
||B. C. 1452.|
1 And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and
prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams.
2 And Balak did as Balaam had spoken; and Balak and Balaam
offered on every altar a bullock and a ram.
3 And Balaam said unto Balak, Stand by thy burnt offering, and
I will go: peradventure the LORD will come to meet me: and
whatsoever he showeth me I will tell thee. And he went to an high
4 And God met Balaam: and he said unto him, I have prepared
seven altars, and I have offered upon every altar a bullock and
5 And the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth, and said, Return
unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak.
6 And he returned unto him, and, lo, he stood by his burnt
sacrifice, he, and all the princes of Moab.
7 And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab
hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east,
saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel.
8 How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I
defy, whom the LORD hath not defied?
9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I
behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be
reckoned among the nations.
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the
fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous,
and let my last end be like his!
11 And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I
took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed
12 And he answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that
which the LORD hath put in my mouth?
I. Great preparation made for the cursing of Israel. That which was
aimed at was to engage the God of Israel to forsake them, and either to
be on Moab's side or to stand neuter. O the sottishness of
superstition, to imagine that God will be at men's beck! Balaam and
Balak think to bribe him with altars and sacrifices, offered without
any warrant or institution of his: as if he would eat the flesh of
bulls or drink the blood of goats. Ridiculous nonsense, to think
that these would please God, and gain his favour, when there could be
in them no exercise either of faith or obedience! Yet, it should seem,
they offered these sacrifices to the God of heaven the supreme
Numen--Divinity, and not to any of their local deities. But the
multiplying of altars was an instance of their degeneracy from the
religion of their ancestors, and their apostasy to idolatry; for those
that multiplied altars multiplied gods. Ephraim made many altars to
Thus they liked not to retain God in their knowledge, but became
vain in their imaginations; and yet presumptuously expected hereby
to gain God over to them from Israel, who had his sanctuary among them,
and his anointed altar. Observe here,
1. How very imperious Balaam was, proud to have the command of a king
and to give law to princes. Such is the spirit of that wicked one who
exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.
With what authority does Balaam give orders! Build me here (in
the place I have pitched upon) seven altars, of stone or turf.
Thus he covers his malice against Israel with a show of devotion, but
his sacrifice was an abomination, being brought with such a wicked
That which he aimed at was not to honour God with the sacrifices of
righteousness, but to enrich himself with the wages of unrighteousness.
2. How very obsequious Balak was. The altars were presently built, and
the sacrifices prepared, the best of the sort, seven bullocks and
seven rams. Balak makes no objection to the charge, nor does he
snuff at it, or think it either a weariness or a disparagement to
stand by his burnt-offering as Balaam ordered him.
II. The turning of the curse into a blessing, by the overruling power
of God, in love to Israel, which is the account Moses gives of it,
1. God puts the blessing into the mouth of Balaam. While the sacrifices
were burning, Balaam retired; he went solitary, into some dark
grove on the top of the high place,
marg. Thus much he knew, that solitude gives a good opportunity for
communion with God; those that would meet with him must retire from the
world, and the business and conversation of it, and love to be private,
reckoning themselves never less alone than when alone, because the
Father is with them. Enter therefore into thy closet, and shut the
door, and be assured that God will meet thee if thou seek him in the
due order. But Balaam retired with a peradventure only, having some
thoughts that God might meet him; but being conscious to himself of
guilt, and knowing that God had lately met him in anger, he had reason
to speak doubtfully: Peradventure the Lord will come to meet me,
But let not such a man think that he shall receive any favour
from God. Nay, it should seem, though he pretended to go and meet with
God, he really designed to use enchantments; see
But, whatever he intended. God designed to serve his own glory by him,
and therefore met Balaam,
What communion has light with darkness? No friendly communion,
we may be sure. Balaam's way was still perverse, and God was still an
adversary to him; but, Balak having chosen him for his oracle, God
would constrain him to utter such a confession, to the honour of god
and Israel, as should render those for ever inexcusable who should
appear in arms against them. When Balaam was aware that God met him,
probably by an angel, he boasted of his performances: I have
prepared seven altars, and offered upon every altar a bullock and a
ram. How had he done it? It cost him nothing; it was done at
Balak's expense; yet,
(1.) He boasts of it, as if he had done some mighty thing. The acts of
devotion which are done in hypocrisy are commonly reflected upon with
pride and vain glory. Thus the Pharisee went up to the temple to boast
of his religion,
(2.) He insists upon it as a reason why God should gratify him in his
desire to curse Israel, as if now he had made God his debtor, and might
draw upon him for what he pleased. He thinks God is so much beholden to
him for these sacrifices that the least he can do in recompense for
them is to sacrifice his Israel to the malice of the king of Moab.
Note, It is a common cheat that wicked people put upon themselves, to
think that by the shows of piety they may prevail with God to
countenance them, and connive at them, in their greatest immoralities,
especially in persecution,
However, thought the sacrifice was an abomination, God took the
occasion of Balaam's expectation to put a word into his mouth
for the answer of the tongue if from the Lord, and thus he would
show how much those are mistaken who say, With our tongue we will
prevail, our lips are our own,
He that made man's mouth knows how to manage it, and to serve his own
purposes by it. This speaks terror to daring sinners, that set their
mouth against the heavens. God can make their own tongues to fall upon
And it speaks comfort to God's witnesses, whom at any time he calls out
to appear for him; if God put a word into the mouth of Balaam, who
would have defied God and Israel, surely he will not be wanting to
those who desire to glorify God and edify his people by their
testimony, but it shall be given them in that same hour what they
2. Balaam pronounces the blessing in the ears of Balak. He found him
standing by his burnt-sacrifice
closely attending it, and earnestly expecting the success. Those that
wold have an answer of peace from God must abide by the sacrifice, and
attend on the Lord without distraction, not weary in well doing.
Balaam, having fixed himself in the place appointed for his denouncing
curses against Israel, which perhaps he had drawn up in form ready to
deliver, takes up his parable, and it proves a blessing,
He pronounces Israel safe and happy, and so blesses them.
(1.) He pronounces them safe, and out of the reach of his envenomed
[1.] He owns that the design was to curse them, that Balak sent for him
out of his own country, and that he came, with that intent,
The message sent to him was, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy
Israel. Balak intended to make war upon them, and he would have
Balaam to bless his arms, and to prophesy and pray for the ruin of
[2.] He owns the design defeated, and his own inability to accomplish
it. He could not so much as give them an ill word or an ill wish:
How shall I curse those whom God has not cursed?
Not that therefore he would not do it, but therefore he could not do
it. This is a fair confession, First, Of the weakness and
impotency of his own magic skill, for which others valued him so much,
and doubtless he valued himself no less. He was the most celebrated man
of that profession, and yet owns himself baffled. God had warned the
Israelites not to use divination
and this providence gave them a reason for that law, by showing them
the weakness and folly of it. As they had seen the magicians of Egypt
befooled, so, here, the great conjurer of the east. See
Secondly, It is a confession of the sovereignty and dominion of
the divine power. He owns that he could do no more than God would
suffer him to do, for God could overrule all his purposes, and turn his
counsels headlong. Thirdly, It is a confession of the
inviolable security of the people of God. Note,
1. God's Israel are owned and blessed of him. He has not cursed them,
for they are delivered from the curse of the law; he has not defied
them, nor rejected or abandoned them, though mean and vile.
2. Those that have the good-will of Heaven have the ill-will of hell;
the serpent and this seed have an enmity to them.
3. Though the enemies of God's people may prevail far against them, yet
they cannot curse them; that is, they cannot do them any real mischief,
much less a ruining mischief, for they cannot separate them from the
love of God,
(2.) He pronounces them happy in three things:--
[1.] Happy in their peculiarity, and distinction from the rest of the
nations: From the top of the rock I see him,
And it seems to have been a great surprise to him that whereas, it is
probable, they were represented to him as a rude and disorderly rabble,
that infested the countries round about in rambling parties, he was
them a regular incorporated camp, in which appeared all the marks of
discipline and good order; he saw them a people dwelling alone, and
foresaw they would continue so, and their singularity would be their
unspeakable honour. Persons of quality we call person of
distinction; this was Israel's praise, though their enemies
turned it to their reproach, that they differed from all the
neighbouring nations, not only in their religion and sacred rites, but
in their diet, and dress, and common usages, as a people called out of
the world, and not to be conformed to it. They never lost their
reputation till they mingled among the heathen,
Note, It is the duty and honour of those that are dedicated to God to
be separated from the world, and not to walk according to the course
and custom of it. Those who make conscience of peculiar duties may take
the comfort of peculiar privileges, which it is probable Balaam has an
eye to here. God's Israel shall not stand upon a level with other
nations, but be dignified above them all, as a people near to God, and
set apart for him.
[2.] Happy in their numbers, not so few and despicable as they were
represented to him, but an innumerable company, which made them both
honourable and formidable
Who can count the dust of Jacob? The number of the people was
the thing that Balak was vexed at
Moab was afraid of them, because they were many; and God does
here by Balaam promote that fear and vexation, foretelling their
further increase. Balak would have him see the utmost part of the
hoping the more he saw of them the more he would be exasperated against
them, and throw about his curses with the more keenness and rage; but
it proved quite contrary: instead of being angry at their numbers, he
admired them. The better acquainted we are with God's people the better
opinion we have of them. He takes notice of the number, First,
Of the dust of Jacob; that is, the people of Jacob, concerning
whom it was foretold that they should be as the dust for number,
Thus he owns the fulfilling of the promise made to the fathers, and
expects that it should be yet further accomplished. Perhaps it was part
of David's fault in numbering the people that he offered to count the
dust of Jacob, which God had said should be innumerable.
Secondly, Of the fourth part of Israel, alluding to the
form of their camp, which was cast into four squadrons, under four
standards. Note, God's Israel are a very great body, his spiritual
Israel are so, and they will appear to be so when they shall all be
gathered together unto him in the great day,
[3.] Happy in their end: Let me die the death of the righteous
Israelites, that are in covenant with God, and let my last end, or
future state, be like theirs, or my recompence, namely, in the
other world. Here, First, It is taken for granted that death is
the end of all men; the righteous themselves must die: and it is good
for us to think of this with application, as Balaam himself does here,
speaking of his own death. Secondly, he goes upon the
supposition of the soul's immortality, and a different state on the
other side death, to which this is a noble testimony, and an evidence
of its being anciently known and believed. For how could the death of
the righteous be more desirable than the death of the wicked upon any
other account than as it involved happiness in another world, since in
the manner and circumstances of dying we see all things come alike
to all? Thirdly, He pronounces the righteous truly blessed, not
only while they live, but when they die, which makes their death not
only more desirable than the death of others, but even more desirable
than life itself; for in that sense his wish may be taken. Not only,
"When I do die, let me die the death of the righteous;" but, "I could
even now be willing to die, on condition that I might die the death
of the righteous, and reach my end this moment, provided it might
be like his." Very near the place where Balaam now was, on one of the
mountains of Moab, not long after this, Moses died, and to that perhaps
God, who put this word into his mouth, designed it should have a
reference, that by it Moses might be encouraged to go up and die such a
death as Balaam himself wished to die. Fourthly, He shows his
opinion of religion to be better than his resolution; there are many
who desire to die the death of the righteous, but do not endeavour to
live the life of the righteous. Gladly would they have their end like
theirs, but not their way. They would be saints in heaven, but not
saints on earth. This is the desire of the slothful, which kills
him, because his hands refuse to labour. This of Balaam's is only a
wish, not a prayer, and it is a vain wish, being only a wish for the
end, without any care for the means. Thus far this blessing goes, even
to death, and beyond it, as far as the last end. Now,
III. We are told,
1. How Balak fretted at it,
He pretended to honour the Lord with his sacrifices, and to wait for
the answer God would send him; and yet, when it did not prove according
to his mind, he forgot God, and flew into a great passion against
Balaam, as if it had been purely his doing: "What hast thou done
unto me! How hast thou disappointed me!" Sometimes God makes the
enemies of his church a vexation one to another, while he that sits in
heaven laughs at them, and the efforts of their impotent malice.
2. How Balaam was forced to acquiesce in it. He submits because he
cannot help it, and yet humours the thing with no small address, as if
he had been peculiarly conscientious, answering Balak with the gravity
of a prophet: Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord has
put in my mouth?
Thus a confession of God's overruling power is extorted from a wicked
prophet, to the further confusion of a wicked prince.
|Balaam Again Blesses Israel.
||B. C. 1452.|
13 And Balak said unto him, Come, I pray thee, with me unto
another place, from whence thou mayest see them: thou shalt see
but the utmost part of them, and shalt not see them all: and
curse me them from thence.
14 And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of
Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram
on every altar.
15 And he said unto Balak, Stand here by thy burnt offering,
while I meet the LORD yonder.
16 And the LORD met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and
said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus.
17 And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt
offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto
him, What hath the LORD spoken?
18 And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and
hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor:
19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of
man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do
it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath
blessed; and I cannot reverse it.
21 He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen
perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the
shout of a king is among them.
22 God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the
strength of an unicorn.
23 Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is
there any divination against Israel: according to this time it
shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!
24 Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift
up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat
of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.
25 And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor
bless them at all.
26 But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, Told not I thee,
saying, All that the LORD speaketh, that I must do?
27 And Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring
thee unto another place; peradventure it will please God that
thou mayest curse me them from thence.
28 And Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looketh
29 And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and
prepare me here seven bullocks and seven rams.
30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bullock and
a ram on every altar.
I. Preparation made the second time, as before, for the cursing of
1. The place is changed,
Balak fancied that Balaam, having so full a prospect of the whole camp
of Israel, from the top of the rocks
was either so enamoured with the beauty of it that he would not curse
them or so affrighted with the terror of it that he durst not; and
therefore he would bring him to another place, form which he might see
only some part of them, which would appear more despicable, and that
part at least which would lie in view he hoped he might obtain leave to
curse, and so by degrees he should get ground against them, intending,
no doubt, if he had gained this point, to make his attack on that part
of the camp of Israel which Balaam now had in his eye, and into which
he was to throw the fireballs of his curses. See how restless and
unwearied the church's enemies are in their malicious attempts to ruin
it; they leave no stone unturned, no project untried, to compass it. O
that we were as full of contrivance and resolution in prosecuting good
designs for the glory of God!
2. The sacrifices are repeated, new altars are built, a bullock and a
ram offered on every altar, and Balak attends his sacrifice as closely
Were we thus earnest to obtain the blessing as Balak was to procure a
curse (designedly upon Israel, but really upon himself and his people),
we should not grudge the return both of the charge and of the labour of
3. Balaam renews his attendance on God, and God meets him the second
time, and puts another word into his mouth, not to reverse the former,
but to ratify it,
If God said not to Balaam, Seek in vain, much less will he say
so to any of the seed of Jacob, who shall surely find him, not
only as Balaam, their instructor and oracle, but their bountiful
rewarder. When Balaam returned Balak was impatient to know what message
he had: "What hath the Lord spoken? Are there any better tidings
yet, any hopes of speeding?" This should be our enquiry when we come to
hear the word of God. See
II. A second conversion of the curse into a blessing by the overruling
power of God; and this blessing is both larger and stronger than the
former, and quite cuts off all hopes of altering it. Balak having been
so forward to ask what the Lord had spoken
Balaam now addresses himself particularly to him
Rise up, Balak, and hear. It was a message from God that he had
to deliver, and it is required of Balak, though a king, that he attend
(hear and hearken, with a close application of mind, let
not a word slip), and also that he attend with reverence: Rise up,
and hear. His successor Eglon, when he was to receive a message
from God, rose out of his seat,
1. Two things Balaam in this discourse informs Balak of, sorely to his
grief and disappointment:--
(1.) That he had no reason to hope that he should ruin Israel.
[1.] It would be to no purpose to attempt to ruin them, and he would
deceive himself if he expected it, for three reasons:--
First, Because God is unchangeable: God is not a man that he
Men change their minds, and therefore break their words; they lie,
because they repent. But God does neither. He never changes his mind,
and therefore never recalls his promise. Balaam had owned
that he could not alter God's counsel, and thence he infers here that
God himself would not alter it; such is the imperfection of man, and
such the perfection of God. It is impossible for God to lie,
And, when in scripture he is said to repent, it is not meant of
any change of his mind (for he is in one mind, and who can turn
him?) but only of the change of his way. This is a great truth,
that with God there is no variableness nor shadow of turning.
1. He appeals to Balak himself concerning it: "Hath he said, and
shall he not do it? Said it in his own purpose, and shall he not
perform it in his providence, according to the counsel of his will?
Hath he spoken in his word, in his promise, and shall he not make it
good? Can we think otherwise of God than that he is unchangeably one
with himself and true to his word? All his decrees are unalterable,
and all his promises inviolable."
2. He applies this general truth to the case in hand
He hath blessed and I cannot reverse it, that is, "I cannot
prevail with him to reverse it." Israel were of old a blessed people, a
seed that the Lord had blessed; the blessing of Abraham came upon them;
they were born under the blessing of the covenant, and born to the
blessing of Canaan, and therefore they could not be cursed, unless you
could suppose that the God of eternal truth should break his word, and
become false to himself and his people.
Secondly, Because Israel are at present unblamable: he has
not beheld iniquity in Jacob,
Not but that there was iniquity in Jacob, and God saw it; but,
1. There was not such a degree of iniquity as might provoke God to
abandon them and give them up to ruin. As bad as they were, they were
not so bad as this.
2. There was no idolatry among them, which is in a particular manner
called iniquity and perverseness; we have found nothing of that kind in
Israel since the golden calf, and therefore, though they were in other
instances very provoking, yet God would not cast them off. Balaam knew
that nothing would separate between them and God but sin. While God saw
no reigning sin among them, he would send no destroying curse among
them; and therefore, as long as they kept in with God, he despaired of
ever doing them any mischief. Note, While we keep from sin we keep from
harm. Some give another sense of those words; they read it thus: He
has not beheld wrong offered to Jacob, nor will he see any grievance
done to Israel, that is, "He has not nor will he permit it, or
allow it; he will not see Israel injured, but he will right them, and
avenge their quarrel." Note, God will not bear to see any injury done
to his church and people; for what is done against them he takes as
done against himself, and will reckon for it accordingly.
Thirdly, Because the power of both was irresistible. He shows
Balak that there was no contending with them, it was to no purpose to
attempt it; for,
1. They had the presence of God with them: "The Lord his God is with
him in a particular manner, and not provoked to withdraw from him."
2. They had the joy of that presence, and were always made to triumph
in it: The shout or alarm of a king is among them. They
shout against their enemies, as sure of victory and success, glorying
continually in God as their King and conqueror for them.
3. They had had the experience of the benefit of God's presence with
them, and his power engaged for them; for God brought them out of
The power which had done that could never be restrained, never
resisted; and, having begun so gloriously, he would no doubt finish
4. While they had God's presence with them they had the strength of a
unicorn, able to make head against all that opposed them. See
Such is the strength which the God of Israel gives unto his people.
[2.] From all this he infers that it was to no purpose for him to think
of doing them a mischief by all the arts he could use,
First, He owns himself baffled. Surely there is no enchantment
against Jacob so as to prevail. The curses of hell can never take place
against the blessings of heaven. Not but that attempts of this kind
would be made, but they would certainly be fruitless and ineffectual.
Some observe that Jacob denotes the church low and afflicted,
Israel denotes it prosperous and advanced; but be the church
high or low, be her friends few or many, let second causes smile or
frown, it comes all to one: no weapon formed against it shall prosper.
Note, God easily can, and certainly will, baffle and disappoint all the
devices and designs of the powers of darkness against his church, so
that they shall not prevail to destroy it. Secondly, He foresees
that this would be remembered in time to come. According to this
time, that is, with reference to this we are now about, it shall be
said concerning Jacob and Israel, and said by them, What hath God
wrought! What great things hath God done for his people! It shall
be said with wonder, joy, and thankfulness, and a challenge to the
neighbouring nations to produce any similar instances of the care of
their gods for them. Note, The defeating of the designs of the church's
enemies ought to be had in everlasting remembrance to the glory of God.
There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun. What Balaam says
here concerning the pre-eminence of the God of Israel above all the
gods of the Gentiles perhaps Moses refers to when he says
Their rock is not as our rock, even our enemies themselves being
judges, Balaam particularly. Balak therefore has no hopes of
ruining Israel. But,
(2.) Balaam shows him that he had more reason to fear being ruined by
them, for they were likely to make bloody work among his neighbours;
and, if he and his country escaped, it was not because he was too great
for them to meddle with, but because he fell not within their
Behold, and tremble; the people that now have lain for some time
closely encamped do but repose themselves for a while like a lion
couchant, but shortly they shall rise up as a great lion, a lion
rampant, that shall not lie down till he eat of the prey, and drink
the blood of the slain. This seems to point at the victories he
foresaw they would obtain over the Canaanites, that they would never
lay down their arms till they had made a complete conquest of the land
they had now in view; and, when his neighbour's house was on fire, he
had reason to think his own in danger.
2. Now what was the issue of this disappointment?
(1.) Balak and Balaam were both of them sick of the cause.
[1.] Balak is now willing to have his conjurer silenced. Since he
cannot say what he would have him, he wishes him to say nothing:
"Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all,
If thou canst not curse them, I beseech thee not to bless them. If
thou canst no assist and encourage my forces, yet do not oppose and
dispirit them" Note, God can make those that depart from him weary of
the multitude of their counsels,
[2.] Balaam is still willing to own himself overruled, and appeals to
what he had said in the beginning of this enterprise
All that the Lord speaketh, that I must do,
This sows, First, In general, that the way of man is not in
himself; there are many devices in man's heart, but God's counsels
shall stand. Secondly, In particular, that, as no weapon formed
against the church shall prosper, so every tongue that rises against
her in judgment god will control and condemn,
(2.) Yet they resolve to make another attempt. They think it scorn to
be baffled, and therefore pursue the design, though it be only to their
further confusion. And now the third time,
[1.] They change the place. Balak is at last convinced that it is not
Balaam's fault, on whom, before, he had laid the blame, but that really
he was under a divine check, and therefore now he hopes to bring him to
a place whence God might at least permit him to curse them,
Probably he and Balaam were the more encouraged thus to repeat their
attempt because God had the second time allowed Balaam to go, though he
had forbidden him the first time. Since by repeated trials they had
carried that point, they hope in like manner to carry this. Thus
because sinners are borne with, and sentence against their evil works
is not executed speedily, their hearts are the more fully set in them
to do evil. The place to which Balak now took Balaam was the top of
Peor, the most eminent high place in all his country, where, it is
probable, Baal was worshipped, and it was thence called
Baal-peor. He chose this place with a hope, either,
First, That it being the residence (as he fancied) of Baal, the
god of Moab, Jehovah the God of Israel would not, or could not, come
hither to hinder the operation; or, Secondly, That, it being a
place acceptable to his god, it would be so to the Lord, and there he
would be brought into a good humour. Such idle conceits have foolish
men of God, and so vain are their imaginations concerning him. Thus
the Syrians fancied the Lord to be God of the hills, but not of the
(1 Kings 20:28),
as if he were more powerful in one place than he is in every place.
[2.] They repeat their sacrifice, seven bullocks and seven rams, upon
Thus do they persevere in their expensive oblations, though they had no
promise on which to build their hopes of speeding. Let not us
therefore, who have a promise that the vision at the end shall speak
and not lie, be discouraged by delays, but continue instant in prayer,
and not faint,