Worship and Warfare
How often we feel the presence of the Lord as we worship! And this is
scriptural, for Psalm 22:3 says that God is enthroned on the praises of His
I believe there is more to this as well. When we worship, I believe we are
lifted into God's presence, Heb. 12:22-24. I believe that the presence of God on
our lives--His presence which each of us received upon salvation--increases. And
I believe that while we are in worship God fights for us. His very presence on
us causes every unclean thing to leave.
This link between worship and warfare is clear in Scripture. For example, Psalm
149 enjoins the saints to be joyful and praise with a two-edged sword in their
hand. Then look at the next part, where that sword is used to execute the
written judgment on nations:
Ps. 149:5-9 Let the saints be joyful in glory,
Let them sing aloud on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand.
To execute vengeance on the nations,
And punishments on the peoples
To bind their kings with chains,
And their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute on them the written judgment
This honor have all His saints.
Praise the Lord!
I believe that nations in Psalm 149 are the enemies of the saints referred to in
Eph. 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,
against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Who has this honor to worship and war? We do--all of us!
The link between worship and warfare is apparent in other Scripture as well. For
example, there is an amazing account of a king of Judah who faced three enemy
kings. Believing that God would fight for him, he put his singers and worshipers
ahead of his army. Look what happened:
2 Chron. 20:21-22 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed
those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness,
and they went out before the army and were saying, “Praise the Lord, for His
mercy endures forever.” Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord
set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come
against Judah, and they were defeated.
As remarkable as this story is, it was not the first time the Lord had fought
for His people. Jericho was a fortified city. Yet it was taken by a people who
were determined to follow the Lord in spiritual warfare. Told by the Lord to
circle the city silently once each day for six days, and then seven times the
seventh day, the people obeyed. They were also told to be silent until told to
shout on the seventh day. The only sound was the continual blowing of the shofar--ram’s
horns all seven days, Joshua 6:13. This was worship. Look at what happened:
Joshua 6:20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it
happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted
with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into
the city, every man straight before him, and the took the city.
By the way, I believe that the walls did not fall down, in part because of the
phrase “every man went straight before him,” and also because Rahab’s
house was on the wall and she was not hurt. There was no rubble. Those walls, I
believe, were pushed into the ground.
Psalm 22:3 says that God is enthroned on the praises of His people. Worship
brings the presence of God, and when God is so overwhelmingly present, He fights
for His people. Sometimes this worship doesn’t make sense to us.
Consider for example this example--warfare with tambourines and harps:
Isaiah 30:32 For through the voice of the Lord, Assyria will be beaten down,
as He strikes it with the rod. And in every place where the staff of punishment
passes, which the Lord lays on him, it will be with tambourines and harps; and
in battles of brandishing He will fight with it.
The principles to learn from all these instances, I believe are these: Realize
that worship magnifies the Lord and His presence with us. Also realize that this
worship may not make sense in the natural--but the Lord will fight for us. If
there is a key principle, it is follow the Lord, John 12:26, even in worship.
Here is an experience which dumbfounded me:
We were in church, praising and worshiping when suddenly I had a vision in the
Spirit. I could still see us praising and worshiping, but I could see the effect
in the spirit as well. Our praise looked like pure, crystal water coming out of
our mouths. It was beautiful and glorious, filled with glints of light. As we
continued praising, the level of the water kept getting higher. It seemed to
cover our heads and go up to the ceiling. Then I looked at the stage where the
worship team was. One woman was standing and praising, but water wasn’t coming
out of her mouth--mud was. A stream of mud came out of her mouth as she sang,
and hit the stage. It went down instead of up, and was filling the stage around
her with mud.
Disturbed, I knelt at my chair and began crying out in the Spirit. What is
wrong, I asked the Lord. He answered that she had been slandering our pastor. I
cried in intercession for God to show her this and correct her.
I didn’t tell anyone what I had seen, not until much later. I believe that
when God gives a vision like that, it is not for public consumption, but rather
so that someone will pray. I didn’t even go to the woman, because God didn’t
send me. I just quietly prayed for her. During that week I found out that what
the Lord had said was right. She had been slandering our pastor.
Is that scriptural, I wondered. And what was God trying to teach me?
Is it possible--as in the vision above--for worship to be an abomination to
After this experience, I searched the Scriptures. I needed to know if this was
right. And this is always good to do when you have a spiritual experience.
God’s Word is sovereign. If your experience does not line up with the Word,
throw it out, 1 Thess. 5:21.
But I believe that this experience was valid. The Word of God does teach that
worship can be an abomination to the Lord.
Consider the following:
Prov. 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the
prayer of the upright is His delight.
Prayer with wrong motives is an abomination to the Lord. A New Testament example
is the Pharisee who prayed, trusting in himself that he was righteous and
despising others, Luke 18:9-14. This man was not justified by God, Jesus tells
James 3 is a well known passage on control of the tongue. But realize that this
passage is also a comment on praise that is offered to God from the same lips
that slander a brother or sister in the Lord. This kind of praise is not
accepted by God!
James 3:2-12 …[i]If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able
also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses‘ mouths that they
may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are
so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder
wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts
great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a
fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it
defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on
fire by hell….But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of
deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men,
who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed
blessing and cursing….Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the
same opening? Can a fig tree…bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no
spring yields both salt water and fresh.
Is it possible to bless God, and at the same time curse men who are made in the
image of God, James 3:9? James makes it clear that this is impossible. A spring
doesn’t bring forth both fresh and brackish water, James 3:11.
Similarly, it is impossible to worship God, curse others and expect God to be
pleased with our worship. A person who slanders others and then comes to worship
does not bless God. The worship of someone who is slandering others is an
abomination to God.
What then is effective worship?
1 Peter 2:5 and 9-10 is a glorious picture of spiritual worship:
1 Peter 2:5 …you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual
house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who
called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people
but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained
But notice the verses before and after these passages:
1 Peter 2:1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy,
and all evil speaking…
1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from
fleshly lusts which war against the soul
We all fall short of the glory of God. How can we worship when we have sinned
against God? Hosea tells us, take words and return!
Hosea 14:1-2 O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled
because of your iniquity; take words with you, and return to the Lord, say to
Him, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the
sacrifices of our lips."
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
àPlease note that this verse was not written to unbelievers. It was
written to believers
In summary, the attitude that worships the Lord is an attitude of brokenness.
It is a crying out to God to make our heart clean, to turn us from sin, to help
us hate evil and every false way. It is an attitude that loves God and puts Him
first in every way.
Copyright October 2007