Numbers 22, Psalms 62-63, Isaiah 11-12, James 5

DateVersionReading Plan
@May 13, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Numbers 22

Numbers 22:12, 20–21, 22a (ESV) God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” … 20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.” 21 So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. … 22 But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his adversary.

Balak had sent elders of Moab to request that Balaam curse the people, but God charged him to not curse the people because they were blessed. In Num. 22:12, God tells Balaam that he is not to go with them, but in Num. 22:20, He tells him to “rise, go with them” and then God was angered in Num. 22:22 when Balaam went. The Faithlife Study Bible provides a possible explanation as to why God was angered after He told Balaam to go with the elders:

The Hebrew wording here echoes other instances where God is angry with people in a rebellious state of mind (Num. 12:9). Balaam may have wanted to curse Israel against God’s wishes. Numbers 22:32, where the angel of Yahweh tells Balaam that the trip is repugnant to Him, may support this interpretation. God still lets him go, but warns him to say only what he is told (Num. 22:20).

Psalms 62-63

Psalm 62:2 (ESV) 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. …

On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

The pairing of God as being both David’s “rock” and “salvation” is noteworthy. He does not say that God merely provides salvation but that He IS salvation. Christ offers this as gift by offering Himself as its embodiment. To receive it is to receive Christ, the Giver as the gift. By this, we see how our union with Christ involves an intimacy that is beyond our full capture. Through His glorious work, we are now in Him and He dwells in us by His Spirit.

Isaiah 11-12

Isaiah 11:10–11 (ESV) 10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.

The “root of Jesse” is a reference to the Messiah who “will be a banner, attracting the Gentiles to Himself, and the seat of His authority will be glorious. The Lord will regather the remnant of His people from all directions of the compass.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary). Christ as a “signal” or “banner” elucidates how He is the focal point and centerpiece of all time and creation. The faithful from every part of the globe lock their gaze on Him, encircling Him with worship and praise.

James 5

James 5:10–11 (ESV) 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Relating back to the beginning of his letter in which James exhorts the brethren to count it all joy “when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2), he now speaks of suffering and patience and offers Job as an example. As with Job, James considered blessed those who remained steadfast. The Believer’s Bible Commentary dutifully points out that “suffering precedes patience” and that our trials should be seen as the mechanism by which patience is obtained. This is echoed in Rom. 5:3b-4a, when Paul says, “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”. This is the joy set before us, that we would endure our cross because Christ first endured His.

Carson on Numbers 22

Numbers 22 begins the account of Balaam. His checkered life teaches us much, but the lesson that stands out in this first chapter is how dangerous it is for a preacher, or a prophet, to sacrifice independence on the altar of material prosperity. Sooner or later a love of money will corrupt ministry.

Carson reminds us of the depravity of man and cautions preachers and prophets through the example of Balaam of their susceptibility of corruption. With good reason, God provides the attributes of nobility that should be present in the ones who have been so gifted (ex. 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1). God knows perfectly well the sinful nature of the human heart and its vulnerabilities. This is for us to grasp as well, being daily refreshed of this reality in His Word.