EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
23:1-10 With the camps of Israel full in view, Balaam ordered seven altars to be built, and a bullock and a ram to be offered on each. Oh the sottishness of superstition, to imagine that God will be at man's beck! The curse is turned into a blessing, by the overruling power of God, in love to Israel. God designed to serve his own glory by Balaam, and therefore met 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 to edify his people; it shall be given what they should speak. He who opened the mouth of the ass, caused the mouth of this wicked man to speak words as contrary to the desire of his heart, as those of the ass were to the powers of the brute. The miracle was as great in the one case as in the other. Balaam pronounces Israel safe. He owns he could do no more than God suffered him to do. He pronounces them happy in their distinction from the rest of the nations. Happy in their numbers, which made them both honourable and formidable. Happy in their last end. Death is the end of all men; even the righteous must die, and it is good for us to think of this with regard to ourselves, as Balaam does here, speaking of his own death. He pronounces the righteous truly blessed, not only while they live, but when they die; which makes their death even more desirable than life itself. But 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 an end like theirs, but not a way like theirs. They would be saints in heaven, but not saints on earth. This saying of Balaam's is only a wish, not a prayer; it is a vain wish, being only a wish for the end, without any care for the means. Many seek to quiet their consciences with the promise of future amendment, or take up with some false hope, while they neglect the only way of salvation, by which a sinner can be righteous before God.
God met Balaam - God served His own purposes through the arts of Balaam, and manifested His will through the agencies employed to seek it, dealing thus with Balaam in an exceptional manner. To God's own people auguries were forbidden Leviticus 19:26
I have prepared seven altars - And therefore Balaam expected that God on His part would do what was desired by the donor; compare Numbers 22:15 note.
4-6. God met Balaam—not in compliance with his incantations, but to frustrate his wicked designs and compel him, contrary to his desires and interests, to pronounce the following benediction [Nu 23:8-10].
No text from Poole on this verse.
And he returned unto him,.... Immediately, as soon as he was told what to say:
and, lo, he stood by his burnt sacrifice; continued in his devotions, hoping for success, and waiting for Balaam's return:
he and all the princes of Moab; not only those that were sent to Balaam, but perhaps all the princes of the kingdom who were got together on this occasion, and by reason of the imminent danger they apprehended the nation was in on account of Israel. And he returned unto him, and, lo, he stood by his burnt sacrifice, he, and all the princes of Moab.