Lesson: Balaam and the Talking Donkey

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Teach students to listen to God before they listen to anyone else. Includes a lesson and 4 games.

Needed: soft play balls or paper wads

Intro Game: Simon Says

Students follow your commands and motion when you say, “Simon says” first. If you don’t say, “Simon says” before the command, and they do it anyway, they’re out. If they follow a motion that doesn’t match the “Simon says” verbal command, they’re out. The winner is the last one in the game.

Play a few rounds with the winner becoming the new Simon


Ask students, What should you do if someone tells you to do something, but you know that thing is wrong?

What if it’s your parent or a teacher telling you to do the wrong thing? Should you do it then?

What if the President of the United States told you to do something bad? Would you do it?

Well, today we’re going to learn about a man whose king wanted him to do something God said was wrong.

(Summarize Numbers 22-24 , asking the included questions as you read).

One day, when Moses and the Israelites were walking in the desert…

Why are Moses and the Israelites walking in the desert? Can anyone tell me?

The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, but God used Moses to rescue the Israelites from slavery. They were walking through the desert to their new home in Canaan, but when the people got to Canaan, they were afraid to go attack the people living there and take over, even though God had told the people that He would help them.

So, to punish the people for not trusting Him to help them, God told them that they could not go live in Canaan. They had to wait until every adult at that time had died and then God would take their children into Canaan to live there. So, now in our story, the Israelites still have to live in the desert until all those adults who didn’t trust God to help them are dead.

So, one day, when Moses and the Israelites were walking in the desert, they came close to the country of Moab. Balak, the King of Moab, saw the Israelites passing by and was afraid. “These people are going to take over my country!” he said.

Do you think King Balak was right? Were Moses and the Israelites going to take over his country?

Moses and the Israelites were eventually going to take over Canaan, but they were just passing by Moab. They didn’t want to attack King Balak or his country.

But King Balak was afraid and he sent his advisers to the prophet Balaam. “Balaam,” they said, “please come and curse the Israelites for us since they are our enemies and have come to attack us.”

Do you think Balaam should put a curse on the Israelites?

Balaam answered the advisers, “Stay the night with me and I will tell you what God says in the morning.”

That night, God told Balaam, “Do not curse the Israelites. They are My people and I have blessed them.”

So, Balaam woke up the next morning and told the advisers that he would not go with them to curse the Israelites.

When King Balak heard what Balaam said, he sent more advisers to him and offered to give Balaam money and treasures if he would come curse the Israelites for him. But Balaam wouldn’t go curse the Israelites. “Even if King Balak gave me all the money in his palace,” he said, “I would not disobey God. But stay the night with me and I will see if God tells me anything else.”

That night, God told Balaam, “Go with the advisers, Balaam, but be careful to do only what I tell you to do.”

So, Balaam woke up the next morning, got on his donkey, and went with the advisers to meet King Balak. As the donkey was walking, an angel came and stood in front of the donkey with a sword in his hand. Balaam couldn’t see the angel, but his donkey could. The donkey turned off the road and started walking through a field.

Why do you think the donkey did that? Why did he just turn off the road and start walking through the field? (Because the donkey saw the angel standing in his way with a sword in his hand.)

Then, Balaam beat his donkey and made him get back on the road. A little while later, the donkey was walking through an alley with buildings on both sides of him. The angel came and stood in front of him again, and the donkey had to smoosh himself against one of the walls to avoid the angel. Balaam’s foot got smashed against the wall and he beat his donkey again.

Do you think Balaam should be beating his donkey like that?

Finally, the angel came and stood in front of the donkey one more time.

What do you think the donkey’s going to do?

This time, the donkey just stopped. He refused to go even one step further and just lied down on the ground. Balaam was so angry that he took a stick and started beating the donkey. Then, God made it so that the donkey could talk, and the donkey said, “Why have you beaten me these three times? Aren’t I always such a good donkey for you?”

Then, God made it so that Balaam could see the angel with his sword in his hand. “Do not beat your donkey,” the angel said. “And remember, only do what God tells you to do when you meet King Balak.”

When King Balak saw Balaam coming, he said, “Finally! Why didn’t you come the first time I sent for you, Balaam?”

“I’m here now,” Balaam answered. “But I can only say what God tells me to.”

Then King Balak said, “Put a curse on these Israelites for me.”

But instead of cursing the Israelites, Balaam blessed them! King Balak was angry and said, “Balaam, I said for you to curse the Israelites, not bless them. Now, I’m not going to give you any of the money I promised you.”

But Balaam answered, “I told you, I can only say what God tells me to.” Then, Balaam went home and so did King Balak.

Did Balaam do the right thing? (Yes.)

Balaam did what he knew God wanted him to do, even though the king wanted him to do something different. For us, we have to listen to our parents and our teachers and the government, but we always have to remember to listen to God first. Even if everyone else tells us to do something, we have to listen to what God tells us to do first.

Game: Balak Says

Tell students that you want them to practice not listening when someone tells them to do the wrong thing. You’re going to play Simon Says, but, now, they should only listen to you when you don’t say “Balak says” first. If anyone does do what you tell them when you say, “Balak says…,” they’re out.

Game: Despite All Obstacles

Set up an obstacle course with two mirror paths. Divide the students into two teams. One student from each team runs the obstacle course at a time while the other team members line up along the length of the obstacle course. When they’re not running, the members of the opposite team throw soft balls or paper wads at the runner from the sidelines.

If a student makes it through the obstacle course without being hit, they score a point for their team and return to the sidelines. If they are hit, they go to the sidelines to throw but not run again. After each pair runs the course, gather the balls or paper wads again for the next two to run.

The game ends when all the students have run the course. The team with the most points wins.

Afterward, explain that we have to do the right things in life even when it seems difficult. There might be things that get in the way of us doing the right thing. There might be people who try to keep us from doing the right thing, like King Balak tried to keep Balaam from doing the right thing. But we have to keep doing what we know is right.

Game: Alex and Alicia

Help students apply the lesson by giving advice to two fictitious students.

Story #1: Alex’s Test

Alex’s teacher at school has been telling the class that God didn’t Adam and Eve. He’s been saying that humans evolved from a kind of ape millions of years ago. Alex doesn’t believe that because he believes what God said in the Bible. But now, it’s time to take the test. And the question reads, “Where did humans come from?”

What should Alex do in this situation?

(Alex should write that some people believe humans evolved from a kind of ape millions of years ago, but that he believes what the Bible says. He should do what God wants him to do instead of doing what his teacher wants.)

Story #2: Alicia’s Bad Babysitter

Alicia’s parents were going out on a date by themselves one night, so they asked their teenage neighbor girl, Nicole, to come stay with Alicia for the evening. After they ordered pizza, Nicole and Alicia wanted to watch TV. Nicole turned the TV to a show Alicia wasn’t allowed to watch. When Alicia told Nicole that her parents didn’t let her watch this show, Nicole laughed and said, “It’s okay. You can watch it. Just don’t tell your parents.”

What should Alicia do in this situation?

(She should tell Nicole that she doesn’t want to watch the show. If Nicole doesn’t change the channel, Alicia should leave the room. She should do what God wants her to do instead of what her babysitter wants her to do.)

Closing Prayer

Lord, we thank You that You always tell us the right thing to do. Make us brave so that we’ll never be tempted to listen to someone else instead of You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

This lesson is included in my book, Slaves to Conquerors: Children’s Sunday School Lessons for Exodus – Joshua.

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