‘How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced?’ -Numbers 23.8From David King:
One of the good things about reading through the Bible is that you come across things you weren’t expecting. The other day I read this verse from the account of Balak, Balaam and the people of God, and it caused me to reflect on the idea of curses. When I was younger I found the idea of curses very frightening. I remember feeling very uncomfortable with the James Bond film “You only live twice” (and not because of the poor grammar of its title song!) As I grew older, I dismissed it as all nonsense and so I suppressed my fear.
However, the Bible does speak of curses. It doesn’t go into depth as to what they are, but what it does say is important. The context of this verse is that Balak, the king of Moab, goes to the prophet Balaam and calls on him to curse the people of Israel. He is asking Balaam to persuade the gods to bring harm on God’s people. Balaam is an awful figure in the story, but he has one thing going for him – he doesn’t try to distort what God says (instead he tries change it or get around it).
Here, he says that there is no point in cursing God’s people because God has blessed them. Isn’t that a wonderful reassurance? Whether or not we are afraid of curses or just the thought that someone wants ill for us, for the Christian there is nothing to fear from a curse. God’s blessing on his people always trumps it.
There is a curse that should make us afraid however. It is God’s curse. God’s curse is not a result of some prophet like Balaam persuading him to harm someone. It is only ever provoked by the one on whom it falls. God’s curse, or as it’s elsewhere called his judgment, falls on us because of our sin. Now that is frightening – but listen to Paul’s description of the cross: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” Galatians 3.13.
What a wonderful truth for the believer. We do not need to fear the Father’s curse, because the Son has taken it for us. And so the Father’s blessing falls on us. Now that we stand under the waterfall of his blessing, we need never fear anyone else’s curse ever again – their curse will only ever bring blessing to the believer and rebound itself on them (Genesis 12.3).