When you read Numbers chapters 22-24, it’s easy to just zero in on the talking donkey story. And why wouldn’t you?! It’s big, unusual, and supernatural! The rest of the text is just a lot of talking, urging, pleading, and manipulating. That kind of stuff happens all the time.
I think that is exactly the point of the story.
Isn’t it funny that we will rabidly search for dramatic and supernatural signs from God while ignoring the simple and clear “God answers” right in front of us? And this is especially true if the answer right in front of us is “NO.”
We don’t like to take “no” for an answer. And when we get an answer we don’t like, we often “look deeper, or pray harder, or really search God, looking for something more dramatic, more supernatural, and hopefully more in keeping with what we want.
Even after Balaam and Balak both had their answers, they kept going back…just in case the answer changed. That’s why Numbers 23:19 is such an important verse. It is the crux of Numbers chapters 22-24.
When my children were little, my wife and I tried to consistently implement an “I’ll only tell you once” policy. It was not to pull some dictatorial power trip on them, but because we knew there would eventually come a time when their quick obedience might save their life. If they were running out into the street, in front of an unseen car, debating and bartering for a “better answer” could have irreparable consequences. There were just times when the clear and simple answer they receive should end the discussion.
The same is true with God and me. I need to get to the place where God’s clear, simple answers are better than a talking donkey.