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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 23:5

 

 

"Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.

The Biblical Illustrator

Deuteronomy 23:5

The Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing.

Balaam’s curse turned into a blessing by God

Here a difficult question meets us. Was there any reality whatever in Balaam’s curse! Or was it altogether a harmless thing--in fact, nothing at all? If there was nothing in it, why should it have been averted Why should it be said that God “would not hearken unto Balaam”? Why not let it be pronounced? The result would have shown that there was no power or reality in it. On the other hand, it is difficult to suppose that such power could reside in a curse, especially when spoken by such a man as Balaam. One thing is certain, that God Himself never did give false prophets power to curse. Could they, then, derive it from any other quarter? Why not from Satan? No creature is absolutely independent; all are instruments in the hands of another. If through grace we have been placed in the kingdom of light, then we are instruments in the hands of God. If we are in the kingdom of darkness, we can only he instruments in the hands of Satan; a curse and not a blessing to others. Now, heathenism is one great territory of Satan’s power--one chief part of his kingdom of darkness. He reigns supreme there. We believe, then, that within the sphere of his kingdom of darkness Satan has power to employ false prophets as his instruments--has power to enable them to curse, and to fulfil their curse when pronounced. The conflict here, then, was not merely one between the king of Moab and Israel, but between the kingdom of light in Israel and the kingdom of darkness in Moab and Midian. Balaam’s curse would have been the utterance of the power of darkness; but he was obliged, however reluctantly, to confess his impotency before God. It was an act of Divine power when God turned the curse into a blessing. It showed His watchful care and love towards His people. And what is it that God is accomplishing now by the gift of His son and the power of His grace, but turning the curse into a blessing? Oh, there is a widespread curse, which has long been resting upon this guilty world, the curse pronounced on man’s disobedience; and what makes it so awful is, that it is a righteous curse. Wherever we look we see its tokens--man doomed to a life of weary labour, suffering from different kinds of sickness, and at last seized with the irresistible hand of death; so that St. Paul says, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” But to the children of God this three-fold curse is changed by the grace of God into a blessing. Look at the lowest element of the curse, that of labour, according to the sentence, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” How wearisome is ceaseless toil in itself! But to the true Christian how different is toil and labour! He consecrates his powers to Him who has redeemed him with His precious blood! Or look at sickness. What is it but the visible reflection of a spiritual disease within? If the image of God had not been obliterated from the soul by sin there would have been no sickness or sorrow in the world. No miracle is exerted to exempt the Christian from this trial. But its nature is changed; there is no longer any curse in it. How many can bless God for it, painful as it may have been--can bless God for His sanctifying and sustaining power--for the near communion with Jesus which they then enjoyed--for the hallowed impressions made upon their souls; and, most of all, for the manifestations of God’s faithfulness and tenderness--of His power and gentleness. But of all the elements of the curse the most manifest and the most awful is death--so universal in its reign--so tremendous in its power--so mysterious in its nature. We can scarcely stand by a dying bed without the question pressing itself upon our thoughts--oh, why this convulsion? Why this distressing and humiliating close to our life here? One answer can only be given--It is because of sin. “Death passed upon all men in that all have sinned.” To the Christian its sting is drawn. It is but the rending of the veil which separates his soul from the visible presence of his Redeemer. (G. Wagner.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Deuteronomy 23:5". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/deuteronomy-23.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Nevertheless, the Lord thy God would not hearken unto Balaam,.... To his solicitations, and the methods he took to prevail on the Lord to suffer him to curse Israel, which he gladly would have done for the sake of Balak's reward:

but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee; in the very mouth of Balaam, as the Targum of Jonathan; for when he opened his mouth and Balak expected he would have cursed Israel, and he intended it, could he have been permitted, the Lord overruled his tongue, and put such words into his mouth, that instead of cursing Israel, he blessed him; see Numbers 23:11,

because the Lord thy God loved thee; and therefore would not suffer them to be cursed; for whom the Lord loves they are blessed, and shall be so in time and to eternity.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-23.html. 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 23:5 Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.

Ver. 5. Nevertheless the Lord, &c., ] q.d., No thanks to the wicked Moabites, that Balaam blasted thee not; as neither to Balaam, whose tongue was merely overruled by the Almighty, and made to bless those whom he would gladly have cursed. And thus still the Lord orders the world’s disorders, turning dross into gold by a stupendous alchymy, and directing men’s evil actions to a good end. Hence it is that they fulfil - though they intend no such thing, but the satisfying of their own lusts - neither [Isaiah 10:5-7] more nor less than "what the hand and counsel of God hath determined." [Acts 4:28; Acts 13:27] Howbeit the hands that nailed Christ to the cross were "wicked hands." [Acts 2:23] And Judas the traitor received strangling and shedding of bowels, as a "reward of his iniquity, for being guide to them that took Jesus." [Acts 1:16-18] It was not without God that the kingdom was rent from Rehoboam, [2 Kings 12:19-20] and yet he flatly renounceth it, as well he might, all the evil that was in it. [Hosea 8:4]


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1865-1868.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 215

GOD’S CARE FOR HIS PEOPLE

Deuteronomy 23:5. The Lord thy God would not hearken unto Salaam: for the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee.

TO those who are ignorant of the way of salvation, we preach Christ crucified: for “there is no other name under heaven but his, whereby any man can be saved.” But to those who are well instructed in the fundamental truths of our holy religion, we bring forward rather what relates to the life of godliness: having laid the foundation, we endeavour to build upon it a suitable superstructure. Now, a realizing sense of God’s care and love, such a sense of his goodness as leads us to live altogether by faith upon him, is one of the sublimest attainments that can be made in this world. And to assist you in this, will be my endeavour at this time.

Let us notice, then, from the words before us,

I. God’s love to his ancient people—

This appeared in bringing them forth out of Egypt, and in preserving them throughout their wanderings in the wilderness: and especially, also, in the instance that is here specified, the counteracting of the designs of Balaam, and “the turning of his curse into a blessing unto them.”

See the account given us by Moses—

[To enter fully into this, the whole history of the transaction, the 22d, 23d, and 24th chapters of tin: Book of Numbers should be attentively perused. Instigated by a desire to obtain “the wages of unrighteousness.” yet conscious that he was under a restraint from the Most High God, Balaam madly pursued his object, even after he was rebuked for his iniquity by the beast on which he rode, and which, was enabled to utter the reproof in language used by man [Note: 2 Peter 2:15-16.]. He constantly confesses his inability to go beyond what Jehovah should see fit to permit; yet as constantly sought to evade or change the divine counsels, and to execute the project for which he was hired. Every distinct prophecy which he utters, rises in force and grandeur: and when complained of by Balak for pouring forth blessings upon them, instead of denouncing curses against them, he confesses, “I have received commandment to bless: and God hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it [Note: Numbers 23:20.].” At last, finding how vain it was to seek by enchantments to alter the divine purpose, he forbore to offer any more of his sacrifices. and yielded to the impulse within him to foretell the certain successes of those whom he had sought to destroy [Note: Numbers 24:1-9.]. And, having thus provoked the king of Moab to dismiss him without the promised rewards [Note: Numbers 24:10-14.], he resumed his prophetic strains, and declared, not only that this people should triumph over Moab, but that from them should One arise, who should establish an universal empire, and have dominion over the whole world [Note: Numbers 24:15-19.].

All this, Joshua brought to the remembrance of Israel, long after they had been established in the land of Canaan; saying, “Balak the son of Zippor arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: but I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand [Note: Joshua 24:9-10.].”]

Now all this was the fruit of God’s unchanging love—

[God had chosen them to himself in Abraham, and had ordained that they should be to him a peculiar people above all others upon the face of the whole earth. In this choice of them he had been influenced, not by any foreseen worthiness in them; for he knew, from the beginning, what a stiff-necked people they would prove; but solely by his own sovereign will and pleasure: “He loved them because he would love them [Note: Deuteronomy 7:6-9.].” To them, also, had he promised the land of Canaan: and therefore, when the time was come for their possession of it, no enemy could stand before them, nor could any conspiracies which could be formed prevail against them. Hence, in despite of all the efforts which Balaam made to curse them, he was constrained to “bless them still.”]

From the whole of God’s kindness to them, we may be led to contemplate,

II. His love to his Israel at this day—

His people are now redeemed, even as they were of old, only from infinitely sorer bondage, a bondage to sin and Satan, to death and hell. They are brought also through a dreary wilderness, towards the heavenly Canaan. They have enemies also to contend with. True it is, they have not to dispossess any of their land; nor do they, by invading the property of others, provoke hostility: but they have enemies notwithstanding, yea, and enemies who are bent upon their destruction: but from all of them God will surely deliver his redeemed people.

He will deliver them both from men and devils—

[From the beginning of the world hare God’s chosen people been opposed and persecuted, even from the time of Abel to the present hour. It was the superior piety of Abel that called forth the resentment of the envious Cain, and stimulated him to imbrue his hands in his brother’s blood [Note: 1 John 3:12.]. And our Lord puts the question to his malignant enemies, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?” It might be thought, indeed, that it would be impossible for any one to hate and persecute the holy Jesus, in whose whole life not a single flaw could be found, and who, by his benevolent and unnumbered miracles, must have endeared himself to every one. But the brighter his light was, the more were the children of darkness incensed against him; so that they never ceased, till they had prevailed against him, and “crucified the Lord of Glory.” All his Apostles, too, were objects of the world’s hatred: and our Lord has told us, that all his followers will have their cross to bear, after the example which he has set us. And do we not find it so? Is there a faithful servant of the Lord, especially if he fill any important station, and be active in honouring his Divine Master—is there one. I say, that is not reviled and persecuted for righteousness sake? True, fires are not now kindled, as once they were, to consume them, because the laws of the land forbid it: but it is as true at this day as ever it was in the apostolic age, that “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

And has the hostility of Satan at all abated? Does not “that roaring lion go about at this day as much as ever, seeking whom he may devour?” What can the Apostle mean, when he says, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood, (not with flesh and blood only,) but with principalities and powers, and spiritual wickednesses in high places [Note: Ephesians 6:12.]?” Or for what end are we still enjoined to “put on the whole armour of God [Note: Ephesians 6:13.],” if we have not still many enemies to contend with?

But God will preserve us from them all, and “turn their curses into blessings.” “Whatsoever will ultimately advance our welfare, he will permit: but whatsoever would have an injurious effect, he will avert; as it is said, “The wrath of man shall praise thee; and the remainder of it shalt thou restrain [Note: Psalms 76:10.].” We may not see the precise way in which good shall be brought out of evil: Joseph could form no idea of the benefit which was ultimately to accrue from all his trials: nor could Job from his: but they were constrained to acknowledge, that, however designed for evil, the events, every one of them, issued in good: and thus has God engaged, that “all things shall work together for his people’s good [Note: Romans 8:28.];” and that their “light and momentary afflictions shall work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:17.].”]

To this Almighty God is pledged, by the love that he bears towards us—

[God has loved his people with an everlasting love; and therefore with loving-kindness he both draws us to him [Note: Jeremiah 31:3.], and secures our welfare. Now, the record in my text is especially intended by God himself to illustrate and confirm this truth. Hear what God says by the Prophet Micah: “O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal, that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord [Note: Micah 6:5.].” God is a righteous and faithful God; and he has engaged, that “no weapon that is formed against his people shall prosper,” and that “none shall prevail against them to pluck them out of his hands:” we may be perfectly assured, therefore, that he will keep them to the end; and that “not one jot or tittle of his word will ever fail.” “Having loved his own, he will love them to the end [Note: John 13:1.].”]

I close with a word or two of advice—

1. Be not hasty in your anticipations of evil as the result of your trials—

[Jacob, on the loss of his favourite son Joseph, exclaimed, “All these things are against me!” But that was the very event which God had ordained for the preservation of himself and his whole family; yea, and for the completion of all his promises respecting the Messiah, and the salvation of the whole world by him. And perhaps that very trial, of which we are ready to complain, is, according to his eternal purpose, to be the destined means of preserving us from destruction, and of preparing us for glory. Wait, and “see the end of the Lord [Note: James 5:11.];” and you will find as much reason to bless God for your severest troubles, as for the most acceptable of all his blessings.]

2. Learn in every dispensation to acknowledge a Father’s love—

[There is not, in fact, any single trial that does not proceed from God. “Not a hair of your head can fall” but by his gracious permission. Men, devils, yea the very elements, are only instruments in his hands to fulfil his will [Note: Isaiah 10:5; Psalms 148:8.]. The Jews, in crucifying the Messiah, executed only “what God’s will and counsel had determined before to be done [Note: Acts 4:28.]:” and, though “they neither meant nor thought so,” they were his agents, to accomplish what was necessary for the redemption of the world. Men and devils may have prepared a furnace for you: but it is God who puts you into it, to purify you from your dross, and to “bring you forth as vessels meet for the Master’s use.” True, he will punish those agents; as he did Balaam, who was slain amongst the enemies of God: but you “he will make perfect through sufferings,” and recompense in proportion to all that you have endured for him.]


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:5". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/deuteronomy-23.html. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

i.e. Forced Balaam to bless thee, who was hired and inclined to curse thee, if possibly he could.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:5". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1685.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.

The Lord thy God would not hearken unto Balaam. The obvious import of this statement is, that God would not permit Balaam to utter any imprecations against Israel, however harmless they might prove, but constrained him, by an overpowering influence, to utter, in presence of Balak and his courtiers, the highest eulogies and blessings. But Hengstenberg founds upon these words a hypothesis that Balaam, on being dismissed by the king of Moab, went directly to the Israelite camp, where being received coldly by Moses, he departed for Midian. (But see the note at Numbers 24:25.)

4th. More favour was to be shown to Edomites and Egyptians-to the former from their near relationship to Israel, and to the latter, from their early hospitalities to the family of Jacob, as well as the many acts of kindness rendered them by private Egyptians at the exodus (Exodus 12:36). The grandchildren of Edomite or Egyptian proselytes were declared admissible to the full rights of citizenship as native Israelites; and by this remarkable provision God taught His people a practical lesson of generosity and gratitude for special deeds of kindness, to the forgetfulness of all the persecution and ill services sustained from these two nations.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/deuteronomy-23.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(5) Because the Lord thy God loved thee.—The contrast between what He says to Israel in this book and what He said by Balaam is very striking. (See on Deuteronomy 31:16.)


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.
Nevertheless
Numbers 22:35; 23:5-12,16-26; 24:9; Micah 6:5; Romans 8:31; 2 Corinthians 4:17
because the
7:7,8; 33:3; Psalms 73:1; Jeremiah 31:3; Ezekiel 16:8; Malachi 1:2; Romans 9:13; 11:28; Ephesians 2:4,5

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-23.html.

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