Tag Archives: Balak

Balak’s an Idiot (and so am I)

Then Balak’s anger burned against Balaam. He struck his hands together and said to him, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed themthese three times.”
Numbers 24:10 (NIV)

Yesterday morning, after writing my post and finishing my quiet time, I settled in at the breakfast table. Wendy was just finishing reading our previous chapter as she waited for me.

Balak is an idiot,” she said with a chuckle and shake of her head.

I laughed, and agreed with her. The narrative clearly portrays the Moabite king as not being the sharpest tool in the shed. Balaam the seer clearly spoke the terms up front to Balak. He would say only what the Lord told him to say, no matter how much treasure Balak offered Balaam to say what he wanted to hear.

Nevertheless, Balak makes Balaam view the Hebrew encampment from three different vantage points, expecting Balaam’s prophetic message to change with the view. When the prophecy doesn’t change to his favor, Balak tells Balaam that he’s not going to pay. Duh. Balaam reminds Balak that he knew that up front.

It is out of Alcoholics Anonymous that we got the popular notion that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It appears Balak could have benefitted from the Twelve Steps.

In the quiet this morning, however, I’m reminded that I can often find my own reflection in the individuals I criticize. There are stretches of my own journey in which I was looped in endless cycles of brokenness. Truth be told, I have found that significant spiritual progress usually requires breaking systemic negative patterns of thought or behavior. The further you progress the deeper, more intimate, and less obvious those negative patterns are to the casual observer. Recovering Alcoholics will tell you that they once thought drinking was their problem. Journeying through the Twelve Steps you discover that your addiction is just the tip of the iceberg.

This morning as I laugh at King Balak’s idiocy, I have to humbly confess that I am also laughing at myself.

Have a good weekend, my friend.

Chapter-a-Day Numbers 23

Business Plan Presentation at FSG 2009
Image via Wikipedia

Balaam answered, “Don’t I have to be careful to say what God gives me to say?” Numbers 23:12 (MSG)

In my vocation, I’ve had the experience of presenting the results of surveys, resesarch projects, and assessments to many different clients and every level of an organization. It’s always fun when the results show satisfied customers, improvements in service performance, and strong overall results. When the news is not so good, however, it can be rather stressful. o one likes to hear bad news. But when the data reveals an outcome that the client will not be happy with, there’s not much I can do.

I identify with Balaam as he presents the results of his conversation with God to his client, Balak. What’s funny is that Balak’s response is the same as I get when I present data the client doesn’t like.

  • “Somethings got to be flawed in your methods.”
  • “Go and check it again. You have to have missed something.”
  • “Redo the survey. Call more customers. This can’t be right.”
  • “Kill the messenger!” (thankfully, I’ve never actually heard this one spoken, I’ve just sensed that my client was thinking it a few times)

I’m sure you can pay people to say what you want to hear, but the truth is a precious gift. When you know exactly where you stand you have an opportunity to make tactical decisions based on reality. Balaam was doing right by Balak to tell him the truth about God’s Message.

Speaking truthfully and honestly about what we know and/or feel can be difficult. However, when it’s done consistently and done well it may reap huge rewards for both the presenter and an audience who is open and receptive.

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