Numbers 23 & Psalms 64-65

Numbers 23

    And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” Balak did as Balaam had said. And Balak and Balaam offered on each altar a bull and a ram. And Balaam said to Balak, “Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell you.” And he went to a bare height, and God met Balaam. And Balaam said to him, “I have arranged the seven altars and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.” And the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” And he returned to him, and behold, he and all the princes of Moab were standing beside his burnt offering. And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

    “From Aram Balak has brought me,
        the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
    ‘Come, curse Jacob for me,
        and come, denounce Israel!’
    How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
        How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?
    For from the top of the crags I see him,
        from the hills I behold him;
    behold, a people dwelling alone,
        and not counting itself among the nations!
    Who can count the dust of Jacob
        or number the fourth part of Israel?
    Let me die the death of the upright,
        and let my end be like his!”
    
        And Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them.” And he answered and said, “Must I not take care to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”

    And Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place, from which you may see them. You shall see only a fraction of them and shall not see them all. Then curse them for me from there.” And he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here beside your burnt offering, while I meet the LORD over there.” And the LORD met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.” And he came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the LORD spoken?” And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

    “Rise, Balak, and hear;
        give ear to me, O son of Zippor:
    God is not man, that he should lie,
        or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
    Has he said, and will he not do it?
        Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
    Behold, I received a command to bless:
        he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
    He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob,
        nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
    The LORD their God is with them,
        and the shout of a king is among them.
    God brings them out of Egypt
        and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
    For there is no enchantment against Jacob,
        no divination against Israel;
    now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
        ‘What has God wrought!’
    Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up
        and as a lion it lifts itself;
    it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey
        and drunk the blood of the slain.”
    
        And Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them at all, and do not bless them at all.” But Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘All that the LORD says, that I must do’?” And Balak said to Balaam, “Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.” So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the desert. And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

(Numbers 23 ESV)


Psalm 64

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

    Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
        preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
    Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
        from the throng of evildoers,
    who whet their tongues like swords,
        who aim bitter words like arrows,
    shooting from ambush at the blameless,
        shooting at him suddenly and without fear.
    They hold fast to their evil purpose;
        they talk of laying snares secretly,
    thinking, “Who can see them?”
        They search out injustice,
    saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
        For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.
    
    But God shoots his arrow at them;
        they are wounded suddenly.
    They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;
        all who see them will wag their heads.
    Then all mankind fears;
        they tell what God has brought about
        and ponder what he has done.
    
    Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD
        and take refuge in him!
    Let all the upright in heart exult!

(Psalm 64 ESV)


Psalm 65

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song.

    Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
        and to you shall vows be performed.
    O you who hear prayer,
        to you shall all flesh come.
    When iniquities prevail against me,
        you atone for our transgressions.
    Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
        to dwell in your courts!
    We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
        the holiness of your temple!
    
    By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
        O God of our salvation,
    the hope of all the ends of the earth
        and of the farthest seas;
    the one who by his strength established the mountains,
        being girded with might;
    who stills the roaring of the seas,
        the roaring of their waves,
        the tumult of the peoples,
    so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
    You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
    
    You visit the earth and water it;
        you greatly enrich it;
    the river of God is full of water;
        you provide their grain,
        for so you have prepared it.
    You water its furrows abundantly,
        settling its ridges,
    softening it with showers,
        and blessing its growth.
    You crown the year with your bounty;
        your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
    The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
        the hills gird themselves with joy,
    the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
        the valleys deck themselves with grain,
        they shout and sing together for joy.

(Psalm 65 ESV)


Something to Consider

Psalm 65: This is a Psalm of thanksgiving expressing gratitude for a fruitful harvest and the abundance of God’s faithfulness. David recounts some of the ‘awesome deeds’ that God has done for the sake of His people throughout history and points out that God the Creator of all things is the only hope for all mankind. The hope of salvation and ultimate satisfaction is found in the goodness of God’s provision which is ultimately revealed in the person and work of Christ.  

David begins to list the greatness of God as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and in doing so, points out the great wonder that such a God would so graciously consider the needs of men. How often do we consider the mystery and awe of our God who Created all things and yet cares for us in such a personal way? May we give praise where praise is certainly due and may we take time to recount and consider the many ways in which the God of the universe has personally cared for us as His special people for His own possession.