by Clarence E. Macartney

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The Prayers of the Old Testament (4 of 13)
The Prayer of Balaam
Clarence E. Macartney
Numbers 23:10; 31:8

That was not the end he had asked for, but it was the
end he deserved. What he asked for was this: "Let me
die the death of the righteous and let my last end be
like his." That was the way he wanted to die, but his
whole life was such as led him step by step to this
death on the field of battle, mingled with the heaps
of fallen Midianites upon whom the Lord God had taken
vengeance. Balaam's prayer was not answered; but it
was Balaam's fault and not God's. It was a good prayer
and one that will always be answered if one lives as
well as prays for that end.

Balaam is one of the most remarkable men who confront
us on the pages of the Old Testament, that rich and
inexhaustible source of character study. What amazing
inconsistencies and baffling contradictions and
puzzling paradoxes he presents! His life impressed
itself upon the minds of the New Testament writers,
and three of them-Peter, John, and Jude-have very
striking things to say about Balaam. They hold him up
to perpetual scorn and obloquy; yet the words that
Balaam uttered are among the most familiar sayings of
the Bible, and the lips of the devout and the faithful
have repeated them, and will repeat them to the end of
time: "God is not a man that he should lie, nor the
son of man that he should repent." "Let me die the
death of the righteous and let my last end be like
his." "I shall see him, but not now. I shall behold
him but not nigh. For a star shall come out of Jacob
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel." Nothing could
surpass the eloquence and beauty of the prophecies
which he made standing on the hilltops of Moab. They
tower like mountains among the psalms and prophecies
of the Bible. Yet Peter writes of the "madness of the
prophet," and Jude of the "error of Balaam," and John
of the "doctrine of Balaam."

There he stands ...

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