Numbers 23:23

We may look upon Balaam here as representing the Satanic powers that have ever been plotting and working against the kingdom of God among men, and as the unwilling prophet of their ultimate defeat. The spell of a higher Power is over him, and he cannot do the thing that he would. Looking down from "the high places of Baal" upon the tents of Israel spread Out over the plain beneath, he is constrained in spite of himself to utter only predictions of good. His magic arts are utterly baffled in presence of the Divinity that overshadows that strange people. It is a picture of what is going on through all the ages. In the triumphant host approaching the borders of the land of promise we see the ransomed Church moving on to its glorious destination, its heavenly rest; the kingdom that Christ has founded among men consummating itself, "covering the face of the whole earth." And in the failure of his enchantments we see the impotence of the devices of the powers of darkness to arrest its progress. The Satanic working has assumed different forms.

I. PERSECUTION. The followers of Christ soon verified his prophetic word: "In the world ye shall have tribulation." The infant Church was nursed and cradled in the storms. It no sooner began to put forth its new-born energies than it found the forces of earth and hell arrayed against it. But what was the result? The first outbreak of hostility only brought to the minds of those feeble men, with a meaning undiscovered before, the triumphant words (Psalm 2), "Why do the heathen rage," &c. It drove them nearer to the Divine Fountain of strength. It made them doubly bold (Acts 4:23, 30). Scattered abroad, they ':went everywhere preaching the word, and the hand of the Lord was with them." A prophecy was thus given of the way in which persecution would always serve the cause it meant to destroy, and God would "make the wrath of man to praise him." Ecclesiastical authority has leagued itself with the tyrannous powers of the world in this repressive work. The sanctions of religion have been invoked for the destruction of the truth. But ever to the same issue. Whatever form it takes, the persecuting spirit is always essentially Satanic; there is nothing Divine in it. And it always defeats its own end. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." The fire that has swept over the field, consuming the growth of one year, has only enriched it and made it more prolific the next. The kingdom of Christ has rooted itself in the earth, and its Divine energies have been developed by reason of the storms that have raged against it. Not only has "no weapon formed against it prospered," but the weapon has generally recoiled on the head of him who wielded it. The Satanic enchantments have been foiled just when they seemed to reach the climax of their success, and the curses of a hostile world have turned to blessings.

II. CORRUPTING INFLUENCES WITHIN THE PALE OF THE CHURCH ITSELF. Christianity has suffered far more from foes within than ever it did from foes without. Christ has been wounded most "in the house of Ms friends." Read the history of the first three or four centuries of the Christian era if you would know to what an extent the hand of man may mar the fair and glorious work of God. They tell how Christian doctrine, worship, polity, social life gradually lost their original simplicity and purity. The traditions of Judaism, heathen philosophies and mythologies, the fascinations of a vain world, the basest impulses of our nature, all played their part in the corrupting process. The human element overbore and thrust aside the Divine, till it seemed as if Satan, baffled in the use of the extraneous persecuting powers, were about to triumph by the subtler forces of corruption and decay. But God has never left his Church to itself any more than to the will of its adversaries. In the darkest times and under the most desperate conditions the leaven of a higher life has been secretly working. Nothing is more wonderful than the way in which the interests of Christ's kingdom have been preserved, not only in spite of, but often through, the instrumentality of events and institutions that in themselves were contrary to its spirit and its laws. What are many of our modern agitations but the struggles of the religious life to east off the fetters that long have bound it, to shake itself from the dust of ages, symptoms of the vis vitoe by which nature throws off disease. Even the retrograde movements that sometimes alarm us will be found by and by to have conspired to the same end. And when the Church shall "awake, and put on her beautiful garments" of simple truth and love and power, when "the Spirit is poured out upon her from on high," then shall it be seen how utterly even these subtler Satanic "enchantments" have failed to arrest her progress towards the dominion of the earth.

III. THE ASSAULTS OF UNBELIEF. The intellectual force of the world in some of its most princely and commanding forms has ever set itself in deadly antagonism to the Church of Christ. Far be it from us to say that all who hold or teach anti-Christian doctrine are consciously inspired by the spirit of evil. But beneath the fairest aspects of aggressive unbelief we discern the Satanic aim to darken the glory that shines from heaven on human souls. It is given to "the mystery of iniquity" to pervert the genius, the learning, even the very mental integrity and honest purpose of men to its own false uses. But have these forces of unbelief ever gained a substantial victory? One would suppose, from what is often said on their side, that they were victorious along the whole line. Is it really so? Is there any one stronghold of revealed truth that they have stormed and taken? In all the battles that have been fought on the field of Christian doctrine, has any ground really been lost? Have any of the "standards" fallen? Is Christianity in any sense a defeated or even damaged cause? Nay, we rather believe that "the foolishness of God is wiser than men," and "the weakness of God is stronger than men." The camp of Israel need fear no hostile "enchantment," for "the Lord their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them." - W.

He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel.
Prophecy is not Fatalism, but in many cases, at least, a forecasting of the certain consequences of such and such moral antecedents. And this view of prophecy leads me to that which is, after all, the most important aspect of the prophecies of Balaam. Here, in the blessings he pronounced on Israel, we have an authoritative declaration of the natural and inevitable outcome of the then condition of the chosen people; blessings which, indeed, they sometimes reaped, and sometimes failed to reap — varying in their relations to the God who spake to them by the lips of Balaam — but blessings which it is open for us to reap, if we will only follow the Lord perfectly and with all our hearts.


1. And the first of these principles that I shall refer to, is that mentioned in the language of the text: "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perversity in Israel." But if we are to accept these words as in any sense descriptive of the actual condition of the Jewish people at this moment, we must understand them in relation to the words that follow: "The Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them." That is, there was none of that iniquity and perverseness in Israel which is the root and substance of all iniquity and perverseness, viz., the denial of God's presence in the midst of them, and a refusal to submit to Him as their King. Whatever else they were (and they had their faults), the Israelites were not a godless people; and being at heart a godly and God-fearing people, Jehovah saw fit to interpret all the other features of their character according to this ruling disposition of their lives, and to look over and excuse many other imperfections for the sake of this predominating excellence.

2. Another element that characterised the moral condition of the Jewish people, was that of the separation from the other nations of the earth. Their separation was their security.

3. But there is, even still farther, a third element belonging to the moral condition of the Jewish people that must not be overlooked; and that is the principle of order that obtained amongst them. "Behold," said the Psalmist, "how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 130:1). And unity and order are intimately related to each other. For order both expresses and promotes unity. And unity makes order possible.

II. THERE IS HERE ALSO DECLARED TO US THE BLESSEDNESS OF THOSE IN WHOM THESE PRINCIPLES ARE REALISED AND EMBODIED. And the prophet lavisheth his praises on the Israelitish people, as the representatives of those who realise and embody these principles. Thus, e.g., he compares the tents of Israel to outspread valleys full of verdure and fertility; and again, to gardens by the riverside, always fruitful and beautiful; and again he speaks of them as trees of lign aloes, which the Lord had planted, laden with the most delicious fragrance; and as cedar trees beside the waters, full of stately, sober beauty (Numbers 24:6). And the blessedness of such he describes as not only personal, but diffusive. The godly are as water-bearers, pouring water out of their buckets on the "dry and thirsty land where no water is," and causing peace and plenty to abound (Numbers 24:7). They themselves increase on every hand; and as they increase, the welfare of the world advances. "Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel?" (Numbers 23:10). It was not that Israel was at that moment an innumerable people, for this book is a record of the numbering of the people of Israel; but Israel had, in the moral principles that governed its action and life, the germs of indefinite extension and enlargement. And wherever it went it carried blessings for the nations in its hand.

III. THE DIGNITY AND MAJESTY OF THOSE WHO ARE THUS BLESSED. Every symbol of strength and vigour, of safety and security, does the prophet press into the service of his eulogy of Israel's greatness.

IV. THE ADVANTAGES THAT MAY BE ENJOYED BY THOSE WHO ARE ONLY SOMEWHAT REMOTELY RELATED TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD. "Come with us," said Moses to Hobab, "and we will do you good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel" (Numbers 10:29). There is such a thing as blessedness, by being related to the blessed. And so Balaam says of Israel: "Blessed is he that blesseth thee; and cursed is he that curseth thee" (Numbers 24:9; see Matthew 10:40, 42).

(W. Roberts.)

What? Was Israel perfect? Was not their entire history one of rebellion and ingratitude and sin? How then could God say He saw no iniquity or perverseness in them? Mark, it is not said that Israel had no iniquity or perverseness. It is said God "beheld" none. Is God, then, the minister of sin? God forbid! He only magnifies the riches of His grace by putting it out of His sight. But is not this a license to the soul to continue in sin, or be indifferent to it? Nay. The love that has pardoned is the love that constrains ever after to "newness of life." But notice again — God was never indifferent to sin in Israel. "He is of too pure eyes to behold iniquity." Yes, the least sin in them was marked and judged with an unsparing hand. But when it came to this, should Satan make use of their sin to cast them out for ever from God — to curse them — then God would see no sin in them. Then His language is, "I have not beheld iniquity in Jacob, nor seen perverseness in Israel." Thus we have seen Israel's complete justification before God. Now let us examine the foundation on which it rests. "God is not a man that He should lie; neither the son of man that He should repent: hath He said and shall He not do it? or hath tie spoken and shall He not make it good?" Thus their justification, and everything that follows, rest upon God's unchangeable character. What a rock is that on which the weakest believer rests! What untold blessings are his l and all secured by the faithfulness of that unchanging God. But let us proceed and mark the streams of blessing which flow down to the believer from this Rock. "The Lord his God is with him." What can he lack, having Him? He is with him to supply every need, to lead into every holy path, to unfold to his soul from hour to hour all the riches of His grace, to quicken, to warn, to comfort, to build up, and to carry on that work in the soul which His grace has begun, till it be perfected in glory. Mark the next blessing — "the shout of a king is among them." It is the shout of joy. It is the joy of Christ in His people, and His people in Him: "these things have I spoken unto you that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full." It is the "shout of a king," even of King Jesus, for He has gotten the victory! "Jehovah has triumphed, and His people are free." Mark the next blessing — "God brought them out of Egypt." The song of redemption is now their song, and will be for ever. "He hath, as it were, the strength of an unicorn" (or buffalo); "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." As the sapling grows into the mighty tree, so that no storms can uproot it, so the Christian grows by living upon Christ, and abiding in Him. All the trials of the way arc converted into elements of strength. What can harm the child of God, then? What foe can curse him whom God has so blessed? None. "What hath God wrought!" It is all God here; man is nothing. Surely every crown must be laid for ever on the riches of His grace! "Behold the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down till he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain." In the symbol of the lion, under which the Lord's people are here brought before us, we have the victorious onward course of the Church of Christ. The Lord's people are represented as "rising up" in the majesty of Divine strength and power and victory over their spiritual foes. And what is the last feature in the character of the Lord's people presented in this parable? It is victory over every foe at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: "he shall not lie down till he eat of the prey and drink the blood of the slain." To "lie down" is the expression for rest. In the morning of resurrection they will Pest, for then every enemy will be given into their hands.

(F. Whitfield, M. A.)

And the shout of a king is among them.

1. It is an extraordinary presence, for God's ordinary and usual presence is everywhere. Whither shall we flee from His presence? He is in the highest heaven and in the lowest hell; the hand of the Lord is upon the high hills, and His power is in all deep places. Still there is a peculiar presence; for God was among His people in the wilderness as He was not among the Moabites and the Edomites their foes, and God is in His Church as He is not in the world. He saith of His Church, "Here will I dwell, for I have desired it." This is much more than God's being about us; it includes the favour of God towards us. His consideration of us, His working with us.

2. God is with His people in the entireness of His nature. This is the glory of the Church of God — to have the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost to be her never-failing benediction. What a glory to have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit manifesting the Godhead in the midst of our assemblies, and blessing each one of us!

3. For God to dwell with us: what a condescending presence this is! And will God in very truth dwell among men? If the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, will He abide among His people? He will! "Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost?"

4. What an awe this imparts to every true Church of God! You may go in and out of certain assemblies, and you may say, "Here we have beauty I here we have adornment, musical, ecclesiastical, architectural, oratorical, and the like!" but to my mind there is no worship like that which proceeds from a man when he feels — the Lord is here. What a hush comes over the soul! Here is the place for the unsandalled foot and the prostrate spirit. Now are we on holy ground.

5. This is the one necessary of the Church: the Lord God must be in the midst of her, or she is nothing. If God be there, peace will be within her walls, and prosperity within her palaces.

6. This presence of God is clearly discerned by the gracious, though others may not know it.


1. Leading (ver. 22). We must have the Lord with us to guide us into our promised rest.

2. The next blessing is strength. "He hath as it were the strength of an unicorn" (ver. 22). It is generally agreed that the creature here meant is an extinct species of urns or ox, most nearly represented by the buffalo of the present period. This gives us the sentence — "He hath as it were the strength of a buffalo." When God is in a Church, what rugged strength, what massive force, what irresistible energy is sure to be there! And how untamable is the living force!

3. The next result is safety. "Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel." The presence of God quietly baffles all the attempts of the evil one. Divination cannot touch a child of God: the evil one is chained. Wherefore be of good courage; if God be for us, who can be against us?

4. Further than that, God gives to His people the next blessing, that is, of His so working among them as to make them a wonder, and cause outsiders to raise inquiries about them. "According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought?"

5. When God is with His people He will give them power of a destructive kind. Do not be frightened. Here is the text for it: "Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion" — that is, as a lion in the fulness of his vigour — "he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain." God has put into His Church, when He is in it, a most wonderful, destructive power as against spiritual wickedness. A healthy Church kills error, and tears in pieces evil.


1. There is something even in the conformation of a Church to secure this. God is very tolerant, and He bears with many mistakes in His servants, and yet blesses them; but depend upon it, unless a Church is formed at the very outset upon scriptural principles and in God's own way, sooner or later all the mistakes of her constitution will turn out to be sources of weakness. Christ loves to dwell in a house which is built according to His own plans, and not according to the whims and fancies of men.

2. But next, God will only dwell with a Church which is full of life. The living God will not inhabit a dead Church. Hence the necessity of having really regenerated people as members of the Church. Remember that text: "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living," and it bears this sense among others, that He is not the God of a Church made up of unconverted people. Oh that we may all live unto God, and may that life be past all question.

3. That being supposed, we next notice that to have God among us we must be full of faith. Do you believe your God? Alas, too many only believe a little! But do you believe His every word? Do you believe His grandest promises? Is He a real God to you, making His words into facts every day of your lives? If so, then the Lord is among us as in the holy place. Faith builds a pavilion in which her King delights to sit enthroned.

4. With that must come prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith. Where prayer is fervent God is present.

5. Supposing there is this faith and prayer, we shall also need holiness of life. You know what Balaam did when he found he could not curse the people. Satanic was his advice. He bade the king of Moab seduce the men of Israel by the women of Moab that were fair to look upon; and he sadly succeeded. So in a Church. The devil will work hard to lead one into licentiousness, another into drunkenness, a third into dishonesty, and others into worldliness. If he can only get the goodly Babylonish garment and the wedge of gold buried in an Achan's tent, then Israel will be chased before her adversaries. God cannot dwell in an unclean Church.

6. Lastly, when we have reached to that, let us have practical consecration. God will not dwell in a house which does not belong to Him.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

There are three special thoughts which come to us in connection with this text.

I. The first is, THE ABSOLUTE NEED, IF THE ARMY OF THE LORD IS TO CONQUER, OF THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD AND OF THE REALISATION OF HIS PRESENCE BY THOSE WHO ARE CALLED BY HIS NAME, and wear His armour, and wield His weapons. It pleases the Lord to let us fight His battles, to give us His armour and His weapons, and to inspire us with His courage, and to fill our enemies with His terror. We have no power except it be given us by Him; we can drive out no darkness of heathenism except the Lord be with us. We want more of our own battle-cry, the "shout of our King," telling of His actual presence with His host.

II. IT IS ALSO NECESSARY TO REALISE THE ESSENTIAL UNITY OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, OF THE ARMY OF THE LIVING GOD. We should pray and work, and earnestly desire that all the people of the Lord may be one. If we want a reason for the little progress made in the conquest of the world of heathenism for the Lord of life and glory, if we want to account for the dark and darkening fringe of sin and misery and unbelief within the borders of our own land, we can find cause enough for these things in our failure to realise and to work and pray for the ideal of the essential unity of the Church of Christ.

III. Our text INSPIRES US WITH HOPE. There is no greater need for us, as individuals or as a united body, than hope. And how can we be otherwise than full of hope when we call to mind that the promise is for us, "The shout of a king is among them"? There is hope for ourselves, and hope for others. Life passes on: friends pass away; strength for effort grows less; unavailing efforts stretch out behind us in a long, increasing line, like wounded men falling down to die in the terrible retreat: but still there is hope — hope that will grow and increase, and come daily nearer to its accomplishment. "The shout of a King is among us," and we cannot be moving on to ultimate defeat. There is a battle, terrible enough, to fight; but victory is the end, not defeat.

(E. T. Leeke, M. A.)

I. THE TRUTH AFFIRMED: "Surely there is no enchantment," &c. The certainty of this may be inferred —

1. Because the counsels of God are more than sufficient to baffle the designs and plots of hell.

2. Because the power of Jehovah is ever effectual in thwarting the attacks of the enemies of his people.

3. Because Divine goodness is more than enough to counteract the malevolence of our foes.

4. The resources of God are more than adequate to render all the means of the Church's enemies abortive.

II. THE EXCLAMATION UTTERED: "According to this time," &c.

1. What is to be said? "What hath God wrought!" Agents are to be observed, but only God praised. This is to keep up our dependence on God. This is to inspire with adoration and praise. This is to keep human nature in its right place.

2. Who are to say it?

(1)Ministers of the gospel

(2)The pious.

3. When should it be said?

(1)In times of depression, as the means of consolation.

(2)In times of great exertion, as an incitement to perseverance.

(3)In times of great success, to give tone to our exultations.

(4)It will be reiterated in the world of the beatified for ever. There they will see, in one beautiful series, the doings of God — behold the golden chain entire.Application:

1. Our text may apply to many as to their Christian experience before God. "Remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee," &c. (Deuteronomy 8:2).

2. The text is appropriate to Christian missions. What enemies, difficulties, and discouragements have been overcome and surmounted! Well may we exclaim, "What hath God wrought!"

3. Let God ever be exalted for the blessings we enjoy, and for all the good done in us and by us.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. THE SOURCE OF EFFECTUAL BLESSING. It directs us to the Deity, in His essential character, in His active character, and in His relative character. And what is the interference we wish? Various. Sometimes —

1. Deliverance — from danger internal and external — "enchantment."

2. Blessing. "I have received commandment to bless," &c

3. Forbearance. "He hath not beheld iniquity," &c.

4. Stability. "The Lord his God is with him."

5. Complete success.

II. THE TIME FROM WHICH HIS INTERPOSITION IS REMARKED. "According to this time it shall be said." The time of —

1. Conversion.

2. Renewed devotion.

3. Peculiar providential arrangement.

4. Earnest and decisive spirit of prayer.

III. THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT IT DEMANDS. "It shall be said, What hath God wrought!"

1. Acknowledgment is implied and expected. "God wrought."

2. It is spontaneously offered. "It shall be said."

3. It is a personal and explicit token. "Jacob and Israel."

4. It is to be recorded and gratefully renewed. "According to this time it shall be said," &c.

(Samuel Thodey.)

That must have been a wonderful glimpse into the ways of God with men which led a diviner to deny his own art, and to confess that to wait with childlike confidence on God till in due time He reveals His will is a far greater and more precious gift than to force or surprise the secrets of the future and to pass in spirit through the times to be. God "met" Balaam to purpose when He taught him a truth which men, and even Christian men, have not yet learned — that a little trust is better than much foresight, and that to walk with God in patient and loving dependence is better than to know the things to come. And this insight into the real value of his special gift was part of that training, that discipline, by which, as we have seen, God was seeking to save His servant from his besetting sin; for Balaam was proud of the gift which set him apart from and above his fellows, of the eagle eye and unyielding spirit which made the supernatural as easy and familiar to him as the natural, while they were trembling before every breath of change and finding omens of disaster in the simplest occurrences of daily experience. He was apt to boast that he was the man of an open eye, hearing the voice of God and seeing visions from the Almighty, falling into trances in which the shadows of coming events were cast upon his mind, and that he could read all secrets and understand all mysteries. Unlike the great Hebrew prophets, who humbly confessed that the secret of the Lord is with all who fear Him, and so made themselves one with their fellows, he was perverting his high gifts to purposes of self-exaltation and self-aggrandisement. Was it not, then, most salutary that he should be checked and rebuked in this selfish and perilous course? And how could he be more effectually rebuked than by being shown a whole race possessed of even higher gifts than his own, possessed above all of the gift of waiting for God to reveal His will to them in due time, and so raised out of all dependence on divinations or enchantments? At this spectacle even his own high and sacred endowment seemed but a vulgar toy, and the aspiration was kindled in his breast for that greater good, that greatest of all gifts, the power to walk in ways of righteousness, and to leave the future, with simple trust, in the hands of God. It is a lesson which we still need to learn; for which of us would not rejoice had he prophetic raptures and trances of which to boast, if men looked up to him as possessed of a solitary and mysterious power, and resorted to him that he might forecast their fate and interpret to them the mysteries by which they were perplexed? Which of us does not at times long to pierce the veil and learn how it fares with those whom we have loved and lost awhile, or even what will be the conditions of our own life in years to come or when death shall wear us away, instead of waiting until in due time God shall reveal even this unto us? Let us, then, learn from Balaam, if we have not yet learned it from David or St. Paul, that to rest in the Lord and to wait patiently for Him is a higher achievement than to apprehend all mysteries; and that to do His will in humble trust is a nobler function and power than to foresee what that Will will do.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

"Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all." But Balaam said, "No; you cannot treat God's messengers in that way. As a matter of fact they are here; you have to account for them being here, and to reckon with them while they are here." We cannot quiet things by ignoring them. By simply writing "Unknowable" across the heavens we really do not exclude supernatural or immeasurable forces. The ribbon is too narrow to shut out the whole heaven; it is but a little strip; it looks contemptible against the infinite arch. We do not exclude God by denying Him, nor by saying that we do not know Him or that He cannot be known. We cannot neutralise God, so as to make Him neither the one thing nor the other. So Balaam was the greatest mystery Balak had to deal with. It is the same with the Bible-God's supernatural Book. It will not lie where we want it to lie: it has a way of getting up through the dust that gathers upon it and shaking itself, and making its pages felt. It will open at the wrong place; would it open at some catalogue of names, it might be tolerated, bat it opens at hot places, where white thrones are and severe judgments, and where scales are tried and measuring wands are tested. It will speak to the soul about the wrong-doing that never came to anything, and the wicked thought that would have burned the heavens and scattered dishonour upon the throne of God.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Aram, Balaam, Balak, Jacob, Moses, Zippor
Aram, Bamoth-baal, Egypt, Moab, Peor, Pisgah
Arts, Divination, Effect, Enchantment, Evil, Jacob, Omen, Power, Proper, Secret, Surely, Wrought
1. Balak's sacrifices

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Numbers 23:23

     4185   sorcery and magic

Numbers 23:18-26

     1421   oracles

An Unfulfilled Desire
'... Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!'--NUM. xxiii. 10. '... Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.'--NUM. xiii. 8. Ponder these two pictures. Take the first scene. A prophet, who knows God and His will, is standing on the mountain top, and as he looks down over the valley beneath him, with its acacia-trees and swift river, there spread the tents of Israel. He sees them, and knows that they are 'a people whom the Lord hath blessed.' Brought there
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Philo of Alexandria, the Rabbis, and the Gospels - the Final Development of Hellenism in Its Relation to Rabbinism and the Gospel According to St. John.
It is strange how little we know of the personal history of the greatest of uninspired Jewish writers of old, though he occupied so prominent a position in his time. [173] Philo was born in Alexandria, about the year 20 before Christ. He was a descendant of Aaron, and belonged to one of the wealthiest and most influential families among the Jewish merchant-princes of Egypt. His brother was the political head of that community in Alexandria, and he himself on one occasion represented his co-religionists,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Balaam's Wish Num 23:10

John Newton—Olney Hymns

The Night of Miracles on the Lake of Gennesaret
THE last question of the Baptist, spoken in public, had been: Art Thou the Coming One, or look we for another?' It had, in part, been answered, as the murmur had passed through the ranks: This One is truly the Prophet, the Coming One!' So, then, they had no longer to wait, nor to look for another! And this Prophet' was Israel's long expected Messiah. What this would imply to the people, in the intensity and longing of the great hope which, for centuries, nay, far beyond the time of Ezra, had swayed
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Nature of Spiritual Hunger
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness Matthew 5:6 We are now come to the fourth step of blessedness: Blessed are they that hunger'. The words fall into two parts: a duty implied; a promise annexed. A duty implied: Blessed are they that hunger'. Spiritual hunger is a blessed hunger. What is meant by hunger? Hunger is put for desire (Isaiah 26:9). Spiritual hunger is the rational appetite whereby the soul pants after that which it apprehends most suitable and proportional
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

Memoir of John Bunyan
THE FIRST PERIOD. THIS GREAT MAN DESCENDED FROM IGNOBLE PARENTS--BORN IN POVERTY--HIS EDUCATION AND EVIL HABITS--FOLLOWS HIS FATHER'S BUSINESS AS A BRAZIER--ENLISTS FOR A SOLDIER--RETURNS FROM THE WARS AND OBTAINS AN AMIABLE, RELIGIOUS WIFE--HER DOWER. 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.'--2 Cor 4:7 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.'--Isaiah 55:8. 'Though ye have lien among the
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

How those are to be Admonished who Abstain not from the Sins which they Bewail, and those Who, Abstaining from Them, Bewail them Not.
(Admonition 31.) Differently to be admonished are those who lament their transgressions, and yet forsake them not, and those who forsake them, and yet lament them not. For those who lament their transgressions and yet forsake them not are to be admonished to learn to consider anxiously that they cleanse themselves in vain by their weeping, if they wickedly defile themselves in their living, seeing that the end for which they wash themselves in tears is that, when clean, they may return to filth.
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

Fragrant Spices from the Mountains of Myrrh. "Thou Art all Fair, My Love; There is no Spot in Thee. " --Song of Solomon iv. 7.
FRAGRANT SPICES FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF MYRRH. HOW marvellous are these words! "Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee." The glorious Bridegroom is charmed with His spouse, and sings soft canticles of admiration. When the bride extols her Lord there is no wonder, for He deserves it well, and in Him there is room for praise without possibility of flattery. But does He who is wiser than Solomon condescend to praise this sunburnt Shulamite? Tis even so, for these are His own words, and were
Charles Hadden Spurgeon—Till He Come

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners Or, a Brief Relation of the Exceeding Mercy of God in Christ, to his Poor Servant, John Bunyan
In this my relation of the merciful working of God upon my soul, it will not be amiss, if in the first place, I do in a few words give you a hint of my pedigree, and manner of bringing up; that thereby the goodness and bounty of God towards me, may be the more advanced and magnified before the sons of men. 2. For my descent then, it was, as is well known by many, of a low and inconsiderable generation; my father's house being of that rank that is meanest, and most despised of all the families in
John Bunyan—Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

Christ a Complete Saviour:
OR, THE INTERCESSION OF CHRIST, AND WHO ARE PRIVILEGED IN IT. BY JOHN BUNYAN Advertisement by the Editor. However strange it may appear, it is a solemn fact, that the heart of man, unless prepared by a sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, rejects Christ as a complete Saviour. The pride of human nature will not suffer it to fall, as helpless and utterly undone, into the arms of Divine mercy. Man prefers a partial Saviour; one who had done so much, that, with the sinner's aid, the work might be
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Of the Decrees of God.
Eph. i. 11.--"Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."--Job xxiii. 13. "He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth." Having spoken something before of God, in his nature and being and properties, we come, in the next place, to consider his glorious majesty, as he stands in some nearer relation to his creatures, the work of his hands. For we must conceive the first rise of all things in the world to be in this self-being, the first conception
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The Heavenly Footman; Or, a Description of the Man that Gets to Heaven:
TOGETHER WITH THE WAY HE RUNS IN, THE MARKS HE GOES BY; ALSO, SOME DIRECTIONS HOW TO RUN SO AS TO OBTAIN. 'And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain: escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.'--Genesis 19:17. London: Printed for John Marshall, at the Bible in Gracechurch Street, 1698. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. About forty years ago a gentleman, in whose company I had commenced my
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Desire of the Righteous Granted;
OR, A DISCOURSE OF THE RIGHTEOUS MAN'S DESIRES. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR As the tree is known by its fruit, so is the state of a man's heart known by his desires. The desires of the righteous are the touchstone or standard of Christian sincerity--the evidence of the new birth--the spiritual barometer of faith and grace--and the springs of obedience. Christ and him crucified is the ground of all our hopes--the foundation upon which all our desires after God and holiness are built--and the root
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Thirdly, for Thy Actions.
1. Do no evil, though thou mightest; for God will not suffer the least sin, without bitter repentance, to escape unpunished. Leave not undone any good that thou canst. But do nothing without a calling, nor anything in thy calling, till thou hast first taken counsel at God's word (1 Sam. xxx. 8) of its lawfulness, and pray for his blessings upon thy endeavour; and then do it in the name of God, with cheerfulness of heart, committing the success to him, in whose power it is to bless with his grace
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The Unchangeableness of God
The next attribute is God's unchangeableness. I am Jehovah, I change not.' Mal 3:3. I. God is unchangeable in his nature. II. In his decree. I. Unchangeable in his nature. 1. There is no eclipse of his brightness. 2. No period put to his being. [1] No eclipse of his brightness. His essence shines with a fixed lustre. With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.' James 1:17. Thou art the same.' Psa 102:27. All created things are full of vicissitudes. Princes and emperors are subject to
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Like the last part of Exodus, and the whole of Leviticus, the first part of Numbers, i.-x. 28--so called,[1] rather inappropriately, from the census in i., iii., (iv.), xxvi.--is unmistakably priestly in its interests and language. Beginning with a census of the men of war (i.) and the order of the camp (ii.), it devotes specific attention to the Levites, their numbers and duties (iii., iv.). Then follow laws for the exclusion of the unclean, v. 1-4, for determining the manner and amount of restitution
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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