Here’s a Few Scriptural Clues:
In fact, she saved his life three times.
She also had a God-given ability to see clearly what was happening in the spiritual realm.
No one sought her opinion or advice about anything. In fact, she was frequently ignored by everyone, until one day she started “acting up.”
That’s when the man started to strike her with his stick..
We don’t know her name—the Bible doesn’t tell us. Yet her story is famous. We all know it—many of us first heard about her and the mean man she saved in Sunday school.
Give yourself a minute and think hard; who is she?
Okay, time’s up. Are you still confused?
Her story is found in Numbers 22:22-34. It’s the tale of God’s wayward prophet Balaam and his female donkey.
A Furry Companion Saves Her Master’s Life
I believe Balaam’s supernatural experience while riding his donkey filled him with a strong and sudden fear of God. He had a bad case of greed, but the Lord almost provided an abrupt “permanent cure.”
The donkey saw the spiritual reality when her master couldn’t. An angel with a drawn sword stood, blocking their way. To avoid the danger, she ran into a field, then pressed herself against a wall, and final lay down on the ground and refused to move. Each time, the prophet felt humiliated before King Balak’s princes—he couldn’t even control his own donkey!
Each time her master beat her to get her back “under control.”
Finally, God opened both the donkey’s mouth and prophet’s spiritual eyes.
28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”
31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. 32 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.” (Numbers 22:28-29, 31-33 ESV)
If I’d been that Prophet’s Donkey…
I can’t help but suspect that if I been that donkey, things might not have turned out so well for Balaam. After being beaten twice for actively saving his life, I would have been very tempted to think:
“Okay then. Looks like you need to meet that sword-carrying angel. Let me break into a trot. I’ll take you right over, so he can ‘introduce’ himself.”
I’m still a beginner when it comes to returning good for evil. I could take lessons from this donkey about forgiveness and always doing what’s right, no matter what the cost.
Angels and Donkeys Have No Egos
The angel and the prophet’s donkey appear a little confused by Balaam’s rage.. They both asked the prophet the same question:
“Why have you struck your donkey these three times?”
Donkeys can act stubborn and some angels have become arrogant and rebellious. But neither of them could understand Balaam’s urgent desire to appear dignified before the king’s special messengers. They don’t understand his “fear of man.” In fact, I don’t think either of them would care what other donkeys or angels think of them.
No one else saw the angel, except the prophet and his faithful donkey. So first, Balaam starts holding a one-sided conversation with the donkey and then turns, looks horrified, falls to the ground and begins talking to empty air.
You gotta love it
Faced suddenly with his own near death experience and Yahweh’s anger, Balaam stopped caring what any man thought about him.
I hope he apologized to his donkey before mounting again. Maybe he gave her a delicious treat when they stopped for the night.
Let me ask you one more question; why do you think God allowed the donkey to see supernaturally? If she’d been blind to the angel too, Balaam would have died.
He didn’t die, because God opened her eyes.
Balaam’s female donkey had free will. Each time she chose to forgive and protect her master. In doing so, she reflected Jesus Christ’s loving, sacrificial, generous nature.
Our challenge is to do the same.
How do I know the prophet’s donkey was female? Because many Bible translations use the pronoun “she” when referring to Balaam’s donkey. Other versions, such as the NIV, refer to the donkey as “it.”
Here’s a link to the scriptural story: Numbers 22.