“And the Philistine [Goliath] cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beast of the field!” (1 Samuel 17:43-44).
Many of us are familiar with the story of David versus Goliath. However, not many people know that Goliath cursed David by his gods just before their fight started. It did not work! David considered it a spiritual warfare, and perhaps so did Goliath since he cursed David by his gods.
Let’s take a random walk through the Bible and highlight a few examples of spiritual warfares revealed or implied in it. We should note from the outset that the devil is in a perpetual warfare against God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and humanity. The devil waged a war against God and humanity when he deceived Adam and Eve by luring them to eat the forbidden fruit in disobedience to God’s specific instructions (Genesis chapter 3). That original sin laid the foundation for the devil to destroy our happy and loving relationship with God. Since then, the devil has manifested himself in a number of ways with the ultimate goal of keeping human beings away and apart from God so as to destroy us.
The devil does so by trying to imitate God and displaying some of God’s powers. For example, when Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh to appeal to him to set the Israelites free, Aaron threw his staff down and it turned into a snake, but the Egyptian sorcerers and magicians also turned their staffs into snakes, and Aaron’s snake swallowed their snakes (Exodus 7:8-13). Moses and Aaron performed two other miracles that were also replicated by the Egyptian sorcerers and magicians: they turned the waters of the Nile River into blood, and made frogs cover the land, but they could not replicate what Moses and Aaron did when they turned the dust of the ground into gnats or lice, nor anything else Moses and Aaron did thereafter (Exodus chapters 7 to 11). It shows that the devil’s power is limited.
After the people of Israel left their bondage in Egypt and were on their way to the Promised Land, Moses cautioned them about some bad practices in the land they should avoid when they reached there because they were detestable to the Lord. They included child sacrifices, divination or sorcery, interpretation of omens, practice of witchcraft, casting of spells; or those who were mediums or spiritists or who consulted the dead (see Deuteronomy 18:9-13 NIV). Today, these detestable acts are still practiced in some parts of the world by the devil and his human agents working through shrines, fetishes, rivers, deities, gods and so forth.
King Saul banned those practices in the days when he was on good terms with the Lord. However, when he disobeyed the Lord and things turned difficult for him, Saul consulted a woman medium or witch who brought back the spirit of the dead Prophet Samuel only for Samuel to rebuke him and give him the bad news of his impending defeat and death in the hands of the Philistines (see 1 Samuel chapter 28). Saul consulted the medium or witch because the Lord had rejected him and would not answer him. That is a lesson for all of us. If we continue to reject God, God may not answer us when we are in need. Another lesson is that consulting with a fetish priest, witch, deity or god is a sin and a stain in our relationship with God.
In the famous contest between the Prophet Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal, the God of Elijah proved to King Ahab, his wife Jezebel, the prophets of the gods, and the whole people of Israel that only God had the power to cause fire to descend from heaven to consume the sacrifice of a bull, wood, stones, soil, and water that had been poured on them (see 1 Kings 18:16-41).
Then there is the strange case of Job. It happened that angels came to present themselves to God and Satan came along with them. In the conversation between God and Satan, God gave Satan limited permission to test Job by causing harm to him. Satan had suggested that Job was faithful to God because God had protected him and made him prosperous, and that Job would curse God if his possessions were taken away from him. Subsequently, Satan attacked Job. The results were that Job lost his children and almost all his possessions, and was afflicted with diseases of the body, but he did not sin or curse God. Satan lost the bet. Later, God restored Job to a level even higher than his former status (see Job chapters 1 and 2).
Note that when God asked Satan what he was up to, “Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” (Job 1:7 NIV). Watch out because Satan and his agents are still roaming through the earth and going back and forth. They may disguise themselves as angels of light and mingle with God’s children even in Churches and other places of worship. This is consistent with the Apostle Peter’s warning to Christians to be alert and sober because our enemy the devil is prowling like a roaring lion seeking whom to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
The devil continued to meddle in the relationship between God and some of his children. The Prophet Daniel was a prayerful man of God. Regarding one of his prayers, the devil blocked for 21 days God’s answer to him that was being carried by an angel until Archangel Michael went to help and the answer was eventually delivered to Daniel (see Daniel chapter 10).
Fast forward. Just before Jesus was about to start his ministry, the devil tempted him three times, but failed in all three. Knowing that Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, the devil wanted him to turn a stone to bread; he also wanted Jesus to throw himself down from the highest point of the temple with a promise of protection from harm; and then he wanted Jesus to bow down and worship him in return for receiving all the kingdoms and splendor of the world. Jesus refused to obey the devil. If the devil was not afraid to tempt the Messiah, King of Kings, and Savior of the world, he certainly has no fear of tempting us. We need to watch and pray.
On one occasion, the Apostle Paul was frustrated with some members of the Churches in Galatia because they still believed that they were justified by following the law instead of by faith in Jesus Christ, and he rebuked them saying, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1). Here, Paul was wondering aloud who or what had gotten into the Galatians for them to believe something other than what they had learned from him or experienced first-hand through receiving the Spirit. Using the term “bewitched,” whether literally or figuratively, shows that Paul recognized the concept or possibility of witches who could cause harm to people.
That is why Paul urges Christians to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
The Scripture passages are highlighted to show that spiritual warfares are real and recognized in the Bible. We should not let our guards down. We should watch out, but not to be afraid
When Goliath cursed David by his gods, Goliath was waging a spiritual warfare, but he did not know that he was dealing with God’s anointed. The Prophet Samuel had secretly anointed David as the next king of Israel and the Spirit of God had come upon him in power (1 Samuel 16:12-13). Also, Goliath did not know that he should not touch God’s anointed or do His prophets no harm (Psalm 105:15). Nor did he know that no weapon forged against God’s children would prevail (Isaiah 54:17). God would not allow the devil to derail His plans for David, not even by the over nine-foot-tall giant. David charged at the giant and defeated him with a single sling shot.
We can borrow from a question Jesus asked to illustrate a point: “how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.” (Matthew 12:29 NIV). Similarly, if you dwell in the shelter of the Most High God, rest in the shadow of the Almighty, and make God your refuge and fortress, how can the devil touch and harm you unless he first invades and conquers God’s fortress where you dwell? The devil may throw and land some punches your way, but he cannot ultimately defeat you because God and His angels guard you (see Psalm 91). A person in Christ is a new creation filled with the Holy Spirit and covered by the Blood of Jesus. For a curse to work on such a person, the power invoked to cause the harm must be greater or stronger than the powers of the Almighty God and His son Jesus Christ. No such power exists.
However, if the devil deceived Adam and Eve and caused them to sin against God; replicated some of Moses’ and Aaron’s miracles; brought up the spirit of Prophet Samuel from the dead; received limited permission from God to harm Job; blocked Daniel’s answered prayer for 21 days; and tempted Jesus three times, he and his agents should be taken very seriously. We ignore the devil and his agents at our own peril. We need to watch and pray.
Usually, it is the fear of death that causes some people to consult and appease fetishes, shrines, rivers, gods etc. in order to cancel or reverse a curse. Life is good and precious; and we must do all we reasonably can to protect it, but not at all costs or by all means necessary. Life is not everything. Jesus said that we should not be afraid of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Rather we should be afraid of God who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). He reinforced his position by saying that anyone who wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for his sake will find it (Matthew 16:25). In other words, if you use sinful means, including denying God or Jesus, to save your earthly life, you will lose your heavenly life, but if you lose your earthly life for his sake, you will gain heavenly life.
The good news is that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, and Jesus has delegated power and authority to us to, among other things: preach the Gospel to the world, do God’s work on earth, fight against the devil, cast out demons, heal the sick, speak in new tongues, trample on snakes and scorpions, and overcome all the power of the enemy. Then, Jesus promised to be with us always till the end of the age (see Mathew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; and Luke 9:1-2; 10:19).
Therefore, we should hold on to God and His son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, no matter the circumstances. The Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead is in us, and so who can be against us, children of God? We should not go about challenging or provoking the devil and his agents without cause. We should not consult them to cancel or reverse a curse that may have been placed on us; that would be submitting to their demonic power and authority. They are not our allies. Instead, we should pray and seek help from our pastors, leaders, and other Christians, remembering that Jesus is with us till the end of the age, and that he that is in us is greater than he that is with them. And we should remember that Goliath cursed David, but it did not work because God was with David. May God be with all of us in Jesus name.
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.