23 Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me this: seven altars. And prepare for me this: seven bulls and seven rams.” 2 And Balak did just as Balaam spoke, and Balak offered Balaam a bull and a ram on the altar. 3 And Balaam said to Balak, “Station yourself at your burnt offering, and I will go; perhaps Yahweh will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell to you.” So he went to a barren height.
4 And God met with Balaam, and he said to him, “I have arranged seven altars, and I have offered a bull and a ram on the altar.” 5 Yahweh put a word in the mouth of Balaam and said, “Return to Balak, and you must speak thus.” 6 So he returned to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, he and all the leaders of Moab. 7 And he lifted up his oracle and said,
“From Aram Balak lead me,
from the mountains of the east the king of Moab,
‘Go for me, curse Jacob,
and go, denounce Israel.’
8 How can I curse whom God has not cursed,
and how can I denounce whom Yahweh has not denounced?
9 Because from the top of the rocks I see him,
from hilltops I watch him.
Behold, a people who dwell alone,
they do not consider themselves among the nations.
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob,
or as a number the fourth part of Israel?
Let my life die the death of an upright person,
and let my end be like his!”
11 And Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and look, you have surely blessed them!” 12 He answered and said, “Should I not speak what Yahweh puts in my mouth?”
13 Then Balak said, “Please walk with me to another place where you will see them, but you will only see part of them and will not see all of them; and curse them for me from there.” 14 So he took him to the field of Zophim to the top of Pisgah, and he built seven altars, and he offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15 Balaam said to Balak, “Station yourself here at the burnt offering while I myself meet with Yahweh there.” 16 Then Yahweh met with Balaam, and he put a word in his mouth, and he said, “Return to Balak, and you must speak thus.” 17 He came to him, and behold, he was standing at his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, “What has Yahweh spoken?” 18 Then he uttered his oracle, and said,
“Stand up, Balak, and hear;
listen to me, son of Zippor!
19 God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of humankind,
that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
And has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
20 Behold, I have received a command to bless;
when he has blessed, I cannot cause it to return.
21 He has no regard for evil in Jacob,
and he does not see trouble in Israel;
Yahweh his God is with him,
and a shout of a king is among them.
22 God, who brings them out from Egypt,
is like the strength of a wild ox for them.
23 Because there is no sorcery against Jacob,
and there is no divination against Israel.
Now it will be said to Jacob and Israel,
what God has done!
24 Look! the people will rise like the lion;
he raises himself and will not lie down
until he eats the prey
and drinks the blood of the slain.”
25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them at all, nor bless them at all!” 26 But Balaam answered and said to Balak, “Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Whatever Yahweh speaks I will do’?”
27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Please, come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will be acceptable to God, and you will curse for me from there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which looks down on the face of the Jeshimon. 29 And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me these seven altars, and prepare for me these seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 Balak did just as Balaam said, and he offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
Avoid Sexual Immorality
12 All things are permitted for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are permitted for me, but I will not be controlled by anything. 13 Food is for the stomach, and the stomach for food, but God will abolish both of them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Therefore, shall I take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For it says, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with him. 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a person commits is outside his body, but the one who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God with your body.
Concerning Christian Marriage
7 Now concerning the things about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” 2 But because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife and let each woman have her own husband. 3 The husband must fulfill his obligation to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. And likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does. 5 Do not defraud one another, except perhaps by agreement, for a time, in order that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and then you should be together again, lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self control. 6 But I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish all people could be like myself, but each one has his own gift from God, one in this way and another in that way.
8 Now I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire.
10 To the married I command—not I, but the Lord—a wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if indeed she does separate, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12 Now to the rest I say—not the Lord—if any brother has an unbelieving wife and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if any wife has an unbelieving husband and he consents to live with her, she must not divorce her husband. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the brother, since otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. The brother or the sister is not bound in such cases. But God has called us in peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
1 May Yahweh answer you in the day of trouble.
May the name of Jacob’s God protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary,
and from Zion may he sustain you.
3 May he remember all your offerings,
and your burnt offering may he regard favorably. Selah
4 May he give to you your heart’s desire,
and your every plan may he fulfill.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory,
and in the name of our God may we set up banners.
May Yahweh fulfill all your requests.
6 Now I know that Yahweh will help his anointed.
He will answer him from his holy heaven
with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some boast in chariots and others in horses,
but we boast in the name of Yahweh, our God.
8 They will collapse and fall,
and we will rise and stand firm.
9 Rescue, O Yahweh.
Let the king answer us when we call.
“I’ll pray for you.”
We say it often, but how many times do we actually remember to do it? Our biggest downfall might not be a lack of compassion—it’s probably just not taking time to write down the request and not having a model of praying for others.
Some of us might feel like we’ve mastered the art of the task list, but it can still be difficult to keep up with praying for our friends. It’s easy to think, “God knows their needs, so it’s fine.” But that’s not the New Testament view of prayer: we’re meant to pray always (Luke 18:1; 1 Thess 5:16). And Paul himself regularly asks for prayers. If they weren’t important, he wouldn’t ask (Col 4:3). For this reason, it would be helpful to develop a system to track what people need prayer for, like a prayer journal. But what about the model?
When I pray for God’s will in my life, I’ve found that using the Lord’s Prayer works well when I’m having trouble praying. But I haven’t adopted a model for praying for others. Psalm 20 contains such a model, and the psalmist offers some beautiful words for others:
“May Yahweh answer you in the day of trouble.… May he send you help … May he remember all your offerings … May he give to you your heart’s desire … May we shout for you over your victory” (Psa 20:1–5). And then the psalmist goes on to proclaim God’s goodness and that He will answer (Psa 20:6). And this is the line I think I love the most: “Some boast in chariots, and others in horses, but we boast in the name of Yahweh, our God. They will collapse and fall, and we will rise and stand firm” (Psa 20:7–8).
“They will … fall … and we will rise.” We must pray for our friends with this kind of confidence. And then the greatest challenge of all: we must pray for our enemies as well.
How can you hold yourself accountable to pray for others? How can you use Psalm 20 as a model for prayer?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.