Good question. Well, here’s the story: there was a man named Balaam, who was summoned by Balak, the king of Moab. Balak wanted Balaam to curse the Israelites, who had come into the land, for he could not defeat them. Now Balaam refused, for he knew that God had blessed the Israelites. Balak persisted, offering a handsome reward. Finally, Balaam went with the men, but he would only say what God told him to say.
Numbers chapter twenty-two verse twenty-one through thirty-five (NIV) says,
“Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned of the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again. Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?’
(After changing his pants) Balaam answered the donkey, ‘You have made a fool out of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.’
The donkey said to Balaam, ‘Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?’
‘No’, he said.
Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.
The angel of the Lord asked him, ‘Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.’
Balaam said to the angel of the Lord (does the angel of the Lord have a nickname? This is getting annoying to type), ‘I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.’
The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, ‘Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.’
So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.”