The Power of Praise in Spiritual Warfare


“And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed.” 1 Samuel 16:23

I woke up at five in the morning from a terrifying dream that left me completely shaken up. As I immediately recognized it as an attack from the enemy, I turned and asked my husband to pray for me. When the terror didn’t leave, we began to sing praises to the Lord together, “Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down…” and continued with other praises that reminded us of Jesus. Our praise welcomed God’s Presence and the darkness and heaviness was overcome by His light. I remember waking up the next morning feeling victorious! For me, this encounter is a true reminder that praise is a weapon in spiritual warfare.

In 1 Samuel 16:14-23, there is an account of an incident where Saul, the first king of Israel, is tormented by a harmful spirit. Saul’s servant seeks out someone to help him and suggests a man named David. He is described as a man of valor, man of war, prudent in speech and a man of good presence. But most importantly, he saw this in David: “the Lord is with him.” So whenever the oppression came, David comes to play the lyre for the king and the harmful spirit would depart and rest would come.

The king’s servant could have hired anyone else to play, but what was the secret to David’s praise?

Praise that Possesses History

I imagine that the young shepherd boy who was invited to the palace not only had calloused hands from tending to the flock but also blistered fingertips that represented his day-to-day worship to the Lord while playing the lyre. The hardened fingertips are physical evidence of an internal devotion of hours of worship—not for an audience or before any earthly king, but in secret, before the True King. He is referred to as “skillful” yet his skills not only represented his spirit of excellence but his private history with God.

For David, it might have been a collection of time in worship while being outside by the field while his flocks grazed, or during sleepless nights while protecting the sheep from wolves, or maybe even playing while walking home. And for us, it can be a combination of morning devotion, sleepless nights, car drives or prayer meetings. True, powerful praise, the kind that causes harmful and tormenting spirits to flee, is the result of the countless unseen moments of praise to God in the secret.

Praise that Brings Victory in Spiritual Warfare

The second secret of David’s praise is that it engaged in spiritual warfare. Isn’t it interesting that at this point in David’s life, he had no military experience but was referred to as a “man of war.” Yes, he is soon to battle Goliath, however, I wonder if every time he played the lyre, it brought shivers up the spine of the enemy because David was not only one to address the natural problem but also one to acknowledge the spiritual problem. Even before he could learned to raise a sling or a sword, he learned to raise his lyre in praise to God which allowed Him to welcome God’s Presence and taste true spiritual victory. In addition, David most likely never thought that his praise unto the Lord would allow someone else to experience spiritual relief and victory as well.

My encouragement is for us to remember that our personal time of worship develops power in our praise. Praise that overcomes the darkness does not come overnight. Therefore, may we never neglect our ministry unto the Lord in praise and may we experience victory in the secret. Furthermore, worship is our comfort, but it is also our weapon in warfare. When we praise God and make much of Jesus in our worship, we go to war together in the spirit and welcome the Presence of God. And it is the Presence that overcomes any obstacle, oppression, and darkness in our lives and gives the victory all back to the glory of Jesus.

Esther Chung is a wife and pastor who lives in Orange County, CA. She graduated from Biola University with a B.A. in Christian Ministries and Talbot School of Theology with a M.A. in Bible Exposition. 

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