Numbers 22:31
Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
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Numbers 22:31-32. The Lord opened the eyes of Balaam — He presented the angel to his view, who had hitherto been invisible to him. He fell flat on his face — In token of reverence and submission. Thy way is perverse — Springing from covetousness.22:22-35 We must not think, that because God does not always by his providence restrain men from sin, therefore he approves of it, or that it is not hateful to him. The holy angels oppose sin, and perhaps are employed in preventing it more than we are aware. This angel was an adversary to Balaam, because Balaam counted him his adversary; those are really our best friends, and we ought so to reckon them, who stop our progress in sinful ways. Balaam has notice of God's displeasure by the ass. It is common for those whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil, to push on violently, through the difficulties Providence lays in their way. The Lord opened the mouth of the ass. This was a great miracle wrought by the power of God. He who made man speak, could, when he pleased, make the ass to speak with man's voice. The ass complained of Balaam's cruelty. The righteous God does not allow the meanest or weakest to be abused; but they shall be able to speak in their own defence, or he will some way or other speak for them. Balaam at length has his eyes opened. God has many ways to bring down the hard and unhumbled heart. When our eyes are opened, we shall see the danger of sinful ways, and how much it was for our advantage to be crossed. Balaam seemed to relent; I have sinned; but it does not appear that he was sensible of this wickedness of his heart, or willing to own it. If he finds he cannot go forward, he will be content, since there is no remedy, to go back. Thus many leave their sins, only because their sins have left them. The angel declared that he should not only be unable to curse Israel, but should be forced to bless them: this would be more for the glory of God, and to his own confusion, than if he had turned back.And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass - The account was perhaps given by Balaam to the Israelites after his capture in the war against Midian. Compare Numbers 31:8. That which is here recorded was apparently perceived by him alone among human witnesses. God may have brought it about that sounds uttered by the creature after its kind became to the prophet's intelligence as though it addressed him in rational speech. Indeed to an augur, priding himself on his skill in interpreting the cries and movements of animals, no more startling warning could be given than one so real as this, yet conveyed through the medium of his own art. 28. the Lord opened the mouth of the ass—to utter, like a parrot, articulate sounds, without understanding them. That this was a visionary scene is a notion which seems inadmissible, because of the improbability of a vision being described as an actual occurrence in the middle of a plain history. Besides, the opening of the ass's mouth must have been an external act, and that, with the manifest tenor of Peter's language, strongly favors the literal view [2Pe 2:15, 16]. The absence of any surprise at such a phenomenon on the part of Balaam may be accounted for by his mind being wholly engrossed with the prospect of gain, which produced "the madness of the prophet" [2Pe 2:16]. "It was a miracle, wrought to humble his proud heart, which had to be first subjected in the school of an ass before he was brought to attend to the voice of God speaking by the angel" [Calvin]. In token of reverence and submission. Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam,.... Who either was struck with blindness, as the men of Sodom were, so some think, or rather his eyes were held, that he could not see the angel; he could see other objects, as his ass, but he could not see that; as Elisha's servant could see the host that compassed the city, but not the chariots and horses of fire about Elisha, till his eyes were opened, 2 Kings 6:15 and so it was with Balaam until the Lord uncovered his eyes, or rolled away the vail over them, or took that off which by his power and providence hindered his sight:

and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand; in the same position as in Numbers 22:23.

and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face; from off his ass upon the ground, in reverence of the illustrious object before him, and through fear of being slain by his sword in his hand.

Then the LORD {o} opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

(o) For if the Lord does not open your eyes, you can see neither his anger or his love.

Verse 31. - The Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel. As on other occasions, the angel was not perceptible to ordinary sight, but only to eyes in some way quickened and purged by the Divine operation. This explains the fact that Balaam's companions would appear to have seen nothing (cf. Acts 9:7). The angel then stationed himself in a pass of the vineyards where walls (גּדר, vineyard walls, Isaiah 5:5) were on both sides, so that the animal, terrified by the angel, pressed against the wall, and squeezed Balaam's foot against the wall, for which Balaam smote her again.
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