Verses 36-41 (Numbers 22:36-41)

We have here the meeting between Balak and Balaam, confederate enemies to God?s Israel; but here they seem to differ in their expectations of the success. 1. Balak speaks of it with confidence, not doubting but to gain his point now that Balaam had come. In expectation of this, he went out to meet him, even to the utmost border of his country (Num. 22:36), partly to gratify his own impatient desire to see one he had such great expectations from, and partly to do honour to Balaam, and so to engage him with his utmost power to serve him. See what respect heathen princes paid to those that had but the name and face of prophets, and pretended to have any interest in heaven; and how welcome one was that came with his mouth full of curses. What a shame is it then that the ambassadors of Christ are so little respected by most, so much despised by some, and that those are so coldly entertained who bring tidings of peace and a blessing! Balak has now nothing to complain of but that Balaam did not come sooner, Num. 22:37. And he thinks that he should have considered the importunity Balak had used, Did I not earnestly send to thee? (and the importunity of people inferior to kings has prevailed with many against their inclinations), and that he should also have considered Balak?s intentions concerning him: Amos not I able to promote thee to honour? Balak, as king, was in his own kingdom the fountain of honour, and Balaam should have his choice of all the preferments that were in his gift; he therefore thinks himself affronted by Balaam?s delays, which looked as if he thought the honours he prepared not worthy his acceptance. Note, Promotion to honour is a very tempting bait to many people; and it were well if we would be drawn into the service of God by the honour he sets before us. Why do we delay to come unto him? Isa. not he able to promote us to honour? 2. Balaam speaks doubtfully of the issue, and bids Balak not depend to much upon him (Num. 22:38): ?Have I now any power at all to say any thing? I have come, but what the nearer am I? Gladly would I curse Israel; but I must not, I cannot, God will not suffer me.? He seems to speak with vexation at the hook in his nose and the bridle in his jaws, such as Sennacherib was tied up with, Isa. 37:29. 3. They address themselves with all speed to the business. Balaam is nobly entertained over night, a sacrifice of thanksgiving is offered to the gods of Moab, for the safe arrival of this welcome guest, and his is treated with a feast upon the sacrifice, Num. 22:40. And the next morning, that no time might be lost, Balak takes Balaam in his chariot to the high places of his kingdom, not only because their holiness (such as it was), he thought, might give some advantage to his divinations, but their height might give him a convenient prospect of the camp of Israel, which was to be the butt or mark at which he must shoot his envenomed arrows. And now Balaam is really as solicitous to please Balak as ever he had pretended to be to please God. See what need we have to pray every day, Our Father in heaven, lead us not into temptation.

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary