What a bizarre portion of Scripture we find in Numbers 22:29! What does it all mean? Scripture tells us that not only did a donkey speak, but the prophet Balaam actually talked back to it! This biblical account compels me to ask, “What is the intended meaning of this story?”
Do you ever find yourself talking to your pet? I have. I remember how, as a child, I would talk to my dog, especially when I was feeling low. We would often walk into the woods together, and I would sit on a ledge and share all my troubles with my faithful companion. But if my dog had talked back to me, I think I would have toppled over in disbelief!
Here we see Balaam carrying on a conversation with his donkey as if it was a common occurrence. So what is the purpose of this bizarre scene? As a prophet, Balaam is supposed to see. That is his gift from God. But instead, it is the donkey that sees. Balaam, as prophet, is supposed to hear and speak on behalf of God, but it is the donkey that hears and speaks, warning of impending danger and judgment. What a strange twist!
“And Balaam said to the donkey, ‘Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.’” Because of his pride and fear of looking like a fool, Balaam is unable to see the impending danger before him.
This unique incident teaches that God communicates when we least expect it. But if pride prevents us from hearing and seeing, we will be unable to receive or proclaim God’s truth. Balaam’s primary concern was that he looked like a fool. God’s primary goal was to convince him that he was.