Miriam was a prophetess, but she didn’t always use her mouth to prophesy the song of the Lord. No, she used her anointed mouth to murmur to Aaron about her little brother Moses. Apparently, Aaron joined in, but God ultimately held Miriam responsible. That tells me she was likely either the one who initiated it, or the one who wouldn’t let it go.
“Now Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); and they said, “Has the Lord really spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken also through us?’ And the Lord heard it” (Numbers 12:1-2).
Catch that. Miriam fell prey to murmuring spirit—and the Lord heard it. (Of course, the Lord hears everything!) We’ll get back to that in a minute. First, let’s take a deeper look at what it means to murmur and why the murmuring spirit has now become synonymous in many spiritual warfare camps with a Miriam spirit.
What is a Murmuring Spirit?
A murmur is a half-suppressed or muttered complaint, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. People don’t murmur compliments. They murmur complaints. In fact, the Bible groups murmuring with complaining and grumbling.
Murmuring is voicing a grievance or a gripe. Murmuring is akin to bellyaching and crabbing. It’s essentially whining and moaning about something you don’t like—and usually not to the person who has any authority to do anything about it. It’s an under your breath behind someone’s back complaint.
A murmuring spirit, then, influences people to complain in disapproval. Instead of praying for a leader, they protest against them. Instead of lifting up the leader’s arms in the midst of the battle, they burden them with more warfare because of the witchcraft their devilish wisdom releases against their mind.
Murmuring is Contagious
Demons know the Scripture, and defy it. The murmuring spirit works to tempt you to defy Scripture. Consider these biblical warnings against murmuring.
Philippians 2:14 (AMPC) commands, “Do everything without murmuring or questioning [the providence of God].” When Miriam meddled in Moses’ marriage, she was essentially murmuring against the God who led him to marry the Cushite woman.
Jude 16 speaks ill of those who are [habitual] murmurers, griping and complaining, following after their own desires [controlled by passion]; they speak arrogantly, [pretending admiration and] flattering people to gain an advantage.” That’s not how I’d like the Lord to describe me.
What happened to Miriam? I believe the murmuring spirit that was in the camp—the Israelites were notorious for murmuring against Moses—caught her ear. In other words, she gave ear to it and then bowed to it. That’s why it’s so important we don’t give ear to a murmuring spirit. Miriam ultimately came into agreement with the murmuring spirit, which is highly contagious, and she should have known better.
This wasn’t just the God-ordained leader of the Israelites; this was her own brother who she helped save by placing him in a basket in the Nile River so Pharoah wouldn’t find him and kill him. She knew God providentially rescued him and raised him up, and now she was protesting against him. It doesn’t make sense. When things don’t make sense, there’s usually a devil in the mix somewhere.
Murmuring is Beyond Dangerous
It’s been said our murmuring is the devil’s music. The devil just loves it when we murmur because it opens us up to attack. Indeed, allowing a murmuring to take over your tongue is dangerous. James, the apostle of practical faith, warns us, “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!”
An entire generation did not enter the Promised Land because they caved in to the murmuring spirit. Numbers 14:28-30 (AMP) tells us: “Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just what you have spoken in My hearing I will most certainly do to you; your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness, even all who were numbered of you, your entire number from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against Me” (James 5:9).
When we murmur against our God-appointed leaders, we’re murmuring against God. We’re complaining that we don’t like the leadership He assigned to us. For Miriam, it brought a manifestation of a curse on her life. God inflicted the curse of leprosy on people who committed sins.
Disciplined for Murmuring
Look what happened to Miriam in Numbers 12:9-16: “And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Miriam and Aaron, and He departed. But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned and looked at Miriam, and behold, she was leprous.
“Then Aaron said to Moses, ‘Oh, my lord, I plead with you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. Oh, do not let her be like one dead, already half decomposed when he comes from his mother’s womb.
“So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, ‘Heal her please, O God, I plead with You!’ But the Lord said to Moses, ‘If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up outside the camp for seven days, and afterward she may return.’ So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was brought in again [and declared ceremonially clean from her leprosy].”
People who have a habit of murmuring against their leaders need to be disciplined. They need to understand the danger of what they are doing for their own sake. We have too many spiritual lepers in the church today. God love them, and He wants to them to repent. Murmurers need to take some time to pray and ask the Lord to help them break free from the Miriam spirit.
Murmurers need to repent and be cleansed from the unrighteousness of murmuring. They need to be restored in a spirit of gentleness (see Galatians 6:1). But they must be confronted. Murmuring is serious business in the Kingdom, and it opens the murmurer up to spiritual attack. It’s mercy to confront them. It’s for their own safety.