Wisdom From Old Testament Stories

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


Balaam’s Donkey 

The Old Testament book of Numbers includes more than just the amount of people in the twelve tribes of Israel and their lineage. There’s a story tucked away in the 22nd chapter about a man and his donkey. This insightful story goes like this:

The Israelites came into Moab, and because there were so many of them, the Moabites were scared to death! So, Balak, the king of Moab, called for a prophet named Balaam. Balak basically asked Balaam to put a curse on God’s beloved Israelites. Balaam responds that he will get back to them after he hears from God. 

In the next verse, God actually comes to Balaam. Balaam told God what Balak wanted him to do, but God told Balaam not to curse the Israelites. So, Balaam sent word to the king that He wouldn’t curse them. The king wasn’t thrilled about this and in turn, bribed Balaam with anything he wanted. However, Balaam wasn’t tempted. He ended up going with the king’s men the next day because God told him to, but he was to wait for God’s leading. 

The next morning, Balaam saddled his donkey and left with the Moabite officials. As they went, an angel of the Lord stood on the road, but only the donkey could see him. Frightened, the donkey acted crazy, which confused Balaam because he couldn’t see the angel. Balaam was furious and beat the donkey three times! It was at this moment that the most unlikely thing occurred: the donkey spoke. 

The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?” “No,” he said.

Numbers 22:30 NIV

It was after this that Balaam was finally able to see the angel of the Lord, which ended up sparing his life. There are a couple of things we can learn from this story about a donkey speaking: 

God Uses Unlikely People

We know very little about Balaam. The only credentials we have on him are that he knew God (Numbers 22:8). And that was all that was needed for this job. Maybe you don’t feel like the right person for the job that God has called you to as a parent, spouse, business owner, or teacher. If God has called you to it, He’ll equip you for it. God cares more about your availability than your ability. God can do far more with an available individual who is willing than an able individual who isn’t. 

God Uses Unlikely Circumstances 

God used a donkey to get a man’s attention. And not just used the donkey, but made the donkey able to speak! This saved Balaam’s life. God wants to use you and whatever situations you’ve endured. It may seem absurd to you that He can use your experience, but He can. Whatever it is, yield it to Him, and watch what He’ll do from it. God used a donkey to save a man and spare His people. He can most certainly use you.