I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near: there shall come a Star out of Jacob…
Commentators have differed as to the way of explaining the pronoun "him," some referring it to Israel. We need scarcely say that we agree with those who refer to Him who is Jacob's star and sceptre. False as his heart was, the seer saw Him in the spirit of prophecy, and felt that a time would come when he would actually see Him. But the time when Jacob's Star would arise was not come, it was distant, and so he adds, "but not now; I shall behold Him, but not nigh." This seems to be the obvious meaning of the words. But if you look at them in connection with Balaam's state of mind, do they not contain a deeper and more awful meaning? Are they not prophetic of himself, as well as of Christ? — of his own awful end, as well as of Israel's great destiny? "I shall see Him!" Yes, when He comes again; but does he express hope that he will share in the Redeemer's glory and Israel's blessedness? No, there is no word of hope, no expression of desire, as in the words of Job, "For I know that my Redeemer liveth," &c. "My Redeemer!" says the afflicted saint, with an appropriating faith; "whom I shall see for myself," he adds, in hallowed longing; but all that the "unrighteous" prophet could say was, "I shall behold Him, but not nigh." In what spirit do we think of that day of which these men speak? All of us, without any exception, will see Christ. "Every eye shall see Him." But how shall we see Him — nigh, or afar off? Like Job, or like Balaam? Has it been given us to say with the first, "My Redeemer — mine, for He died for me"? Or do we feel — must we feel, that we have no. part in His salvation; and that when we see Him, it may be "afar off."
Parallel VersesKJV: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
WEB: I see him, but not now. I see him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob. A scepter will rise out of Israel, and shall strike through the corners of Moab, and break down all the sons of Sheth.