|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
24:15-25 Under the powerful influence of the Spirit of prophecy, Balaam foretold the future prosperity and extensive dominion of Israel. Balaam boasts that his eyes are open. The prophets were in old times called seers. He had heard the words of God, which many do who neither heed them, nor hear God in them. He knew the knowledge of the Most High. A man may be full of the knowledge of God, yet utterly destitute of the grace of God. He calls God the Most High and the Almighty. No man could seem to express a greater respect to God; yet he had no true fear of him, love to him, nor faith in him; so far a man may go toward heaven, and yet come short of it at last. Here is Balaam's prophecy concerning Him who should be the crown and glory of his people Israel; who is David in the type; but our Lord Jesus, the promised Messiah, is chiefly pointed at, and of him it is an illustrious prophecy. Balaam, a wicked man, shall see Christ, but shall not see him nigh; not see him as Job, who saw him as his Redeemer, and saw him for himself. When he comes in the clouds, every eye shall see him; but many will see him, as the rich man in hell saw Abraham, afar off. He shall come out of Jacob, and Israel, as a Star and a Sceptre; the former denoting his glory and lustre; the latter his power and authority. Christ shall be King, not only of Jacob and Israel, but of all the world; so that all shall be either governed by his golden sceptre, or dashed in pieces by his iron rod. Balaam prophesied concerning the Amalekites and Kenites, part of whose country he had now in view. Even a nest in a rock will not be a lasting security. Here is a prophecy that looks as far forward as to the Greeks and Romans. He acknowledges all the revolutions of states and kingdoms to be the Lord's doing. These events will make such desolations, that scarcely any will escape. They that live then, will be as brands plucked out of the fire. May God fit us for the worst of times! Thus Balaam, instead of cursing the church, curses Amalek the first, and Rome the last enemy of the church. Not Rome pagan only, but Rome papal also; antichrist and all the antichristian powers. Let us ask ourselves, Do we in knowledge, experience, or profession, excel Balaam? No readiness of speech, even in preaching or prayer, no gifts of knowledge or prophecy, are in themselves different from, or superior to the boasted gifts of him who loved the wages of unrighteousness, and died the enemy of God. Simple dependence on the Redeemer's atoning blood and sanctifying grace, cheerful submission to the Divine will, constant endeavours to glorify God and benefit his people, these are less splendid, but far more excellent gifts, and always accompany salvation. No boasting hypocrite ever possessed these; yet the feeblest believer has something of them, and is daily praying for more of them.
Verse 23. - When God doeth this. Literally, "from the settling of it by God." מִשֻּׂמו אֵל, i.e., when God shall bring these terrible things to pass. Septuagint, ὅταν θῇ ταῦτα ὁ θεός. This exclamation refers to the woe which he is about to pronounce, which involved his own people also.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he took up his parable, and said,.... Or delivered another prophecy, having made some little pause:
alas, who shall live when God doeth this? referring not to what goes before, but to what follows; though Jarchi and Aben Ezra think it refers to the Assyria conquering and carrying captive, not only the Kenites, but all the nations of the world, so that there was no living comfortably in it on his account; but this is said after Balaam had taken up his parable again, and so respects what follows, as the destruction of the Persian empire by Alexander, in which Ashur or the Assyrians were included; and the destruction of the Jews by the Romans more especially; which was such as had not been the like from the beginning of the world, Matthew 24:21, and perhaps may have a further respect to the affliction of the witnesses and church of Christ by antichrist; see Daniel 12:1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. who shall live when God doeth this!—Few shall escape the desolation that shall send a Nebuchadnezzar to scourge all those regions.
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