This is a commonly quoted verse that, in and of itself, is a great encouragement regarding God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises. However, when we step back and look at the full scope and context of the story it is taken out of, it’s message becomes all the more empowering. You see, to fully grasp this statement we must back up a chapter to Numbers 22 and read the story of Balaam and Balak.
In reading this we see that the Israelites had been delivered from Egypt and were traveling through the land as God had commanded. They had faced much opposition from the kings and inhabitants of the lands they had passed through, but with God on their side, had pressed on victoriously. When they approached the lands of King Balak, he desired to kill them but seeing their great numbers, feared defeat. So he sent for Balaam. Balaam was known for speaking forth effective blessing as well as curses and Balak thought cursing these people would weaken them enough that he might defeat them, gaining much reputation.
Balak sent for Balaam, offering great reward for his services in cursing the Isrealites, but God spoke to Balaam and warned him not to harken unto Balak’s request for there was no iniquity found in this people. Balaam eventually did go to meet Balak having his foot crushed along the way and receiving a harsh rebuke and instruction from an angel of The Lord. Once he met with Balak he warned him that he would speak only what The Lord put in his mouth. Balak, eager to see this people cursed, built alters and sacrificed upon a hill top, then set Balaam over the people to speak his curse. However, what came out of his mouth was a blessing instead. Balak was furious and took Balaam to an other location where the same thing happened again. At this point Balak through a fit, wanting God to do his will, rather then him doing God’s will. To which Balaam replies:
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.” – Numbers 23:19-21
This happened again a third time as Balaam proclaimed to all, the victory of those he was called to curse over the very ones calling him to do the cursing. Balak’s foolishness lay in the fact that he thought it possible that he might, through anything in his power, change God’s will to suit his own. Though we may beg God on behalf of our self or others, to allow one more chance for us to align ourselves with “His” will, and He may have mercy and oblige (as was the case with Moses and the Israelites), we can never ask Him to change His will for our own (as was the case with Balak and Balaam), for His will is perfect.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2
Balaam’s reward in this story was that he received the curse that he had intended to place on others. The sad part is that it was not at all necessary. Had he received these people with hospitality instead of hostility and blessed them, he would have received blessings instead of cursing. After Balak’s third attempt to curse God’s people, Balaam spoke to this reality. When addressing the Israelites about their God and themselves he said:
“He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.” – Numbers 24:9
Had iniquity been found among these people, the outcome might have been very different but because these were true faithful servants of God, though by no means easy, their journey was blessed, provided for, and protected. Even those that meant them harm, God turned for their good and no matter how hard the enemy tried to curse what God had promised for them, every curse God turned to blessings in the end on their behalf. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), though He is a respecter of obedience (John 14:15) and is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). So if we would be found faithful, obedient, and righteous before Him, what He did for these people, He will do for us. In other words, God will turn your enemies curses into blessings. After all, the man who stands with God in every situation, will already have God standing with him in every trial.
“When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people; He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” – Psalms 105:13-15
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good…” – Genesis 50:20
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:26-28
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31
“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.” – Deuteronomy 28:1-2