New Defender's Study Bible Notes
23:7 his parable. This message is the first of four “parables” placed in Balaam’s mouth by God (see also Numbers 23:18; 24:3,15), each of which is a Messianic prophecy concerning Israel and the coming Savior.
23:9 people shall dwell alone. Balaam, though not an Israelite, perhaps once had been a true prophet, receiving the word of God to convey to the people of Moab and Midian (distant cousins of the Israelites). God evidently had also wanted these groups to know Him. However, the Moabites and Midianites would not accept Israel as God’s special people.
Balaam also prostituted his prophetic gift on behalf of the king of Moab and his monetary reward. Nevertheless, his prophecy–even uttered against his will–was divinely inspired. Even before Israel entered the promised land, Balaam could foresee the distant future, when Israel would be scattered among the nations–yet would not be assimilated by those nations. As a unique phenomenon in history, the people of Israel would spend almost two thousand years without a land of their own, yet would still “dwell alone and not be counted among the nations.”
23:19 he should repent. Some take this assertion as contradictory to such passages as Genesis 6:6: “It repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth.” It is not really God who “repents”–that is, “changes His mind”–but man. When men change, God must revise His attitude and behavior toward them, precisely because He is Himself unchangeable. He must continue unchanged in His own righteous character and standards, and thus may appear outwardly to “repent” in order not to repent inwardly.
23:21 not beheld iniquity. God had repeatedly punished the Israelites for their sins, yet, by the great principle of justification by grace through faith, these could all be forgiven and forgotten (Psalm 103:3; Jeremiah 31:34).
23:21 shout of a king. It would be many years before Israel would have an earthly king. Balaam’s prophetic description could only apply to a coming King who would bring final victory to the people of God (Zechariah 9:9; 14:9,16; I Timothy 6:14,15).
23:23 no enchantment against Jacob. Balaam’s occultic powers were of no avail against the omnipotence of God. Likewise, Christians today need have no fear of the occult or its practitioners, as long as they are walking in God’s will.
23:23 What hath God wrought. This exclamation was appropriated by the great Christian scientist/artist/inventor, Samuel F. B. Morse, as the first message to be sent over his telegraph, which revolutionized the field of communications.
23:24 great lion. Balaam is compelled here to refer to Jacob’s ancient prophecy of the coming “Lion of the tribe of Juda” (Genesis 49:9,10; Revelation 5:5), none other than Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. See also Numbers 24:9.