Balaam was unable to oppose God and therefore he was giving the Israelites God’s blessing. It was not possible for Balaam to curse the Israelite people against God’s will. Balak still wanted Balaam to try once more to curse God’s people. Balak was unable to tell the difference between magic and God’s power.
No power, not even the power of false gods could overcome the power of God. The prophets of the pagan gods worked magic in several ways. They often tried to discern the future events. They would study the movements of the stars or examine the inner parts of animals that they had sacrificed to their gods. God hates magic and forbids people to practice it. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
As the before occasions Balaam had gone off by himself to seek God. It was on those occasions that he had tried to persuade God to curse His people. There were customs that Balaam would follow when he prayed to God. What these customs were we do not know. But on this last try Balaam did not follow these customs and he did not pray privately. Balaam already knew that God wanted to bless the Israelites. God by means of His Holy Spirit spoke to Balaam and gave him the words to say.
God gave Balaam a vision of the future when the Israelites were living in the Promised Land. Balaam spoke of the beautiful homes that the Israelites would have with beautiful gardens and strong trees. Balaam even spoke of the plentiful water that the Israelites would have in the Promised Land. Water was a very precious commodity in the land. Water was needed to drink and to grow crops. The Israelites would have all the water that they needed. This would be a great blessing to the people of God and they would be content.
Balaam also told of the military power that the Israelites would have and he prophesied about a future king who would be greater than all of Israel’s enemies. Israel’s first king Saul defeated the king Agag of the Amalekites. (1 Samuel 15:8)
Balaam again reminded Balak that God had brought the Israelites out of the land of the Egyptians. And along the way of their journey they had defeated all of their enemies. Balaam told Balak that the Israelites were as a strong lion.
Balak was angry and he struck his hands together which was an insult towards Balaam. Balak was through with Balaam and sent Balaam away and told Balaam that he would not receive payment for his efforts. Then Balak blamed God before Balaam as the reason that he would not receive any payment.
Balaam had not lied to Balak and told his officials that he would obey what God told him to say. (Numbers 22:18-20) Balaam reminded Balak that he could only say what God gave him to say. With that done Balaam agreed to return to his home but he had not finished his prophecies and had more to say about things to come.
At the beginning of this prophecy the words spoken are near to the words spoken before his third prophecy. (Numbers 24:3-4) But this was a far reaching prophecy telling of events that would happen a long time in the future.
Balaam spoke of a future king that would come from Israel and this king would defeat the Moabites. The sons of Sheth might be a neighboring tribe or it might be another name for the Moabites. This coming king would defeat the enemies of Israel in the land of Edom. This king would destroy them all. This prophecy spoke of a time 300 years in the future, King David Israel’s most popular king who ruled after Saul was a great military leader. It was King David that defeated the Moabites and the Edomites. (2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 8:13-14; 1 Kings 11:15-16)
Some commentators also refer these prophecies to the Messiah. The Messiah was the great king and leader that would come in the future. It was the belief of the Jewish people that the Messiah would defeat all enemies of the Jewish nation.
Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus came to save people from the results of their sin. His message was that of love and not of military power. But Jesus did defeat our greatest enemy Satan. His death on the cross took away the power of sin over the lives of the people. By His resurrection He also overcame the power of death and in the future He will return again and rule everlastingly.
At the end of Balaam’s prophecies he speaks of the fate of other nations.
Amalek was not the most powerful nation or the oldest nation in the land but it was the first to attack Israel. (Exodus 17:8-15) From that time on the Amalekites were always an enemy to the Israelite people.
Near to the Amalekites lived the Kenites who lived among the hills south west of the Dead Sea. They were not enemies of Israel as Hobab was a relative of Moses. (Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11) The Kenites felt that they were safe living in the hills but in the future they would be defeated too.
The land that is called Assyria would become a powerful nation and conquer many others. But Assyria would not rule other nations forever as they were eventually defeated too. The word for Assyria is translated to “Asshur” and is a tribe that lived near to the Kenites. Historians also say that the people from Cyprus were the Philistines who would become a great enemy of the Israelites. King David did defeat the Philistines. (1 Samuel 17; 2 Samuel 5:17-25)
The point that Balaam was making with his prophecy was that God controls all the events of the earth. The nation’s only become strong and powerful if God allows them to. God uses these nations to accomplish His purposes.
When Balaam finished his prophecy he began his journey to his home. Balaam could not do what Balak wanted him to do. Balaam could not curse the nation that God had blessed. Balaam did have another plan to defeat the Israelite people and we will read about his plan in chapter 31.