Reading Numbers 23 I thought, “Man, Balak just isn’t getting it … he’s already asked Baalam three times to ask God curse Israel and He said He is NOT going to do it!” How stubborn mankind can be — always struggling against the ways of God. It’s a good lesson: if God is closing a door, don’t keep trying to open it!
But then I wondered: isn’t there is a balance here somewhere? Sometimes persevering is the thing to do: keep asking; keep knocking, and so on. But at the same time, you don’t want to be found struggling against God’s will.
So what is the difference? Balak had been told that God had spoken against the cursing of Israel — and yet he kept trying to have them cursed. This wasn’t a matter of him persevering towards some good end, but in persisting to ask for something that was directly opposed to the revealed will of God.
This can serve as a good guide for us as well. Perseverance towards a good cause is laudable. Keep at it! You might yet publish that book on the 23rd try! But don’t keep seeking something that you know God has forbidden in His word. You will not succeed in it — even if God eventually allows you to have your own way. You aren’t “persevering;” you’re being stubborn. And Proverbs 29:1 says: “A man who who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.”