Then Balak’s anger was aroused against Balaam, and he struck his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have bountifully blessed them these three times! Now therefore, flee to your place. I said I would greatly honor you, but in fact, the Lord has kept you back from honor.” (Numbers 24:10-11)
Enraged, Balak attempted to shame Balaam into compliance but to no avail. Balaam reminded him that he would speak only what God gave him to speak. But also notice that Balak tries to convince Balaam that God is the one to blame; it was He who prevented the prophet from receiving honor. In other words, his “obedience” to God cost him treasure and the prestige that man could bestow upon him. And frankly, it is true that God gave Balaam the opportunity to decide whether he wanted to be respected by God or man and, initially anyway, he chose to comply with God’s wishes.
The lesson for us is that man will always dangle a carrot before us with promises of prestige, acceptance and reward. However, the honor they offer is the honor of wicked men. Like it was with Balaam, God gives us the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to man’s honor code. He never twists our arms to bring us into submission but simply lays out what we can expect to happen when we obey or when we disobey. To heed His voice and obey is to live; to do otherwise is to suffer and, eventually, die.
Anything man can offer us is only temporal and short-lived and, so then, we should never seek the honor of men. To walk contrary to man’s will is to follow in the footsteps of the Messiah who said, “I do not receive honor from men…. How can you believe, you who receive honor from one another and do not seek the honor that comes from God only?” (John 5:41, 44). The point then is this: if we decide to follow God we will not be pleasing to most people and that is okay because, in the end, we will prosper far beyond what any “Balak” could do for us.
Blessings and Shalom,