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A Lesson from a Donkey

If you’ve been reading this article over the last few weeks you’ve noticed a common theme: animals. They play such an integral part in our everyday lives that it’s not hard to draw parallels from their experiences to ours. This will likely be my last article on an animal (at least for a while) but I think there is a lesson here that applies to all of us.

I’ve not been around a lot of donkeys but I have seen a few. In our modern society there isn’t much use for the stubborn little creatures. Some still keep them for pets or to carry packs but that is a rarity.

In Bible times though the donkey was a key player. We see many biblical characters in both testaments riding or using donkeys for various tasks. They were an indispensable commodity in an era without mechanization.

One particular story about a donkey I want to focus on is found in the book of Numbers in the Old Testament. There we are introduced to a prophet by the name of Balaam.

Balaam wasn’t necessarily a particularly inspirational figure or even a well-known one. In fact it seems like he would have been lost to history save for this particular event he was involved with, and his humble little donkey.

The Children of Israel had just moved into the promised land of Canaan and the kingdoms that inhabited land in that area were more than a little worried. Here was this upstart little kingdom (in their view) who was coming into Canaan and conquering all of these different cities and lands. Something had to be done.

The king of the Moabites, Balak, decides he will get this prophet Balaam to help them out. He calls for Balaam to come and curse Israel so they will not be able to defeat Moab. To shorten the story a little I’ll cut to the point. God told Balaam not to go and not to curse Israel, but Balaam goes anyway.

While on the way to curse Israel Balaam runs into the Angel of the Lord. He doesn’t see the angel standing with a flaming sword ready to kill him, but his little donkey does. On three different occasions the donkey saves Balaam’s life.

Balaam, not knowing the angel is there is very upset with the donkey, hits her. After the third attempt on his life the Lord opens the donkey’s mouth and she begins to speak. Then Balaam’s eyes are opened and he sees the angel and realizes what his faithful donkey has done for him.

Sometimes we don’t see danger ahead when others clearly do. We may be taking our own path and doing our own thing with little regard for what others say or think. It’s our life after all; we’re going to live it.

During these times it’s more important than ever to have friends with family with spiritual discernment who can point us in the right direction. Instead of blowing them and their opinions off we need to look at what they say through a Biblical lens and see if we should be changing our direction. Perhaps our friends and family are trying to save us from some potential danger and heartache.

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” -Proverbs 11:14

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