Beware the 'deal'

Numbers 24:1-13: Then…Balak said to Balaam, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but instead you have blessed them these three times….I said, ‘I will reward you richly,’ but the Lord has denied you any reward.” And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers…, ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own will; what the Lord says, that is what I will say’?"

Whenever I buy something online, I’m offered a reduced price if I join the company’s mailing list or use their app. But I would rather pay a bit more than to  have more marketers plague me with emails. I realize that the cost of an item may be lower, but giving others access to me also comes with a price.

Almost everything in life today comes with a price, monetary or otherwise. The instinct of human nature to make everything into a transaction comes through clearly in the story of Balak and Balaam. Balak pushes Balaam to curse Balak’s enemies, and in exchange promises to “reward [Balaam] richly.”

But Balaam knows that blessings and curses are not his to give, but God’s, and he refuses to do as Balak asks. He tells Balak of his stance, “I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord” regardless of the promised reward. God gives gifts; humans extract profit.

So we have to be careful, as people of God living in a modern culture, to remember that everything comes with a price.

Psalms 140, 142; Romans 8:12-17; Matthew 22:15-22

Copyright 2022 by Carol Mead.  For noncommercial use and sharing only. For more information on this ministry, and on a free subscription to these meditations, please contact the author by email (

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