Touching The Lord’s Anointed
“When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.”Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks.And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave.And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.”So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.
Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage.And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’?Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it.May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you.After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! May the Lord therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.””
(1 Samuel 24:1–15 ESV)
“The Lord warns, ‘Don’t touch my anointed. Do my prophet no harm.’ I think that you are trying to do harm to the work of God. I surely wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.”
That quote is from the late Chuck Smith in regard to questions he didn’t appreciate from a Christianity Today reporter.
As I was an adviser on that story, he was indirectly addressing me as well.
That verse has been used by Smith and multitudes of other leaders in the church to to deflect hard questions and honest inquiry with the implication being that the inquirer was invoking the wrath of God on themselves for asking.
Does that verse mean that God stands like a junkyard dog behind His leaders, willing and eager to smash any who cross them?
No…and those who use it that way are using the word of God in such a way as to bring holy discipline on themselves.
Let’s look at the passage in context and see what it is saying.
It’s found in two other places as well as the passages above … 1 Chronicles 16: 22 and Psalm 105: 15.
“When they were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!””(Psalms 105:12-15 ESV)
“When you were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!””(1 Chronicles 16:19-22 ESV)
First, note what these passages are…they are part of songs of thanksgiving for what God had done, not dire warnings to those who question authority.
They are remembrances that as the people of Israel had passed through hostile lands the Lord had protected them and delivered them from harm by warning other kings to ‘touch not his anointed”…His people…all of them.
Second, these songs of praise would have been sung by the whole congregation, not just at a “pastors conference”.
The “Lord’s anointed” designation applied to the whole assembly and in later years would be sung by a people who had no king at all to encourage themselves in the faithfulness of God.
Calvin: “The Psalmist proceeds farther, affirming, that when God made war against kings for the sake of his servants, they were defended by him, not only as he is accustomed to succour the miserable and the unjustly oppressed, but because he had taken them under his special guardianship. God protects his people, not only upon a general ground, but because he has declared on account of his free adoption, that he will maintain them.
If you are in Christ you are the “Lords anointed”.
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”(2 Corinthians 1:20-22 ESV)
“But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.” (1 John 2:19-27 ESV)
The passage in question is not an implied threat against questioning religious authority or leadership.
It is not a sword for insecure leaders to wield against those who dare question them.
It is a song of Gods care for all His people when they are weak and few in number and in hostile territory.
Now…please note that while David didn’t cause physical harm to Saul, he publicly rebuked him.
He shouted at Saul in front of his men and called on God to judge between them.
There was a difference then between the public rebuke of sin in leadership and sinfully “touching the Lord’s anointed” and there is today.
We just shout with better tools.
If you’re in Christ you’re one of His anointed… and may God judge between you and leaders who try to harm you in His name.
Good read. Thank you.
Yet, I’m curious:. Was there anything in particular that prompted this article?
That’s a good question.
I had published part of it before and wanted to finish it…and just felt compelled to do so today.
perhaps that should be a warning to anyone in ministry who wants to defraud, molest, lie to, slander, manipulate, or have sex with one of the ‘flock.’ It seems that would be a more honest interpretation of the phrase.
shoe-on-the-other-foot-fil, filbertz, Great words, aman!!!!!
(still praying for you)
great article big brother!! Well done, again!
(still praying for you too)
as it turned out cs was no prophet as he thought he was! we all knew he wasn’t.
Thank you, Dusty!
absolutely on target – every word
being used of God to accomplish a task should be sobering and humbling, not a signal that one has carte blanche or is above the reproach of the rest of the Church… who, as noted here, are also “anointed” 🙂
I think Carson Wentz is the anointed one to take the Eagles to the Super Bowl. All the other teams should keep their hands off him and do him no harm.
Now, I’m not taking anything out of context, am I? 🙂
I think you should write a full article on the matter… 🙂
I wanna write an article on how quickly the NFL is circling the drain.
I’d never dreamed of it growing up as a kid.
…by “write on article”, I was speaking hyperbole. 🙂
The NFL “circling the drain” is hyperbole from people with an ax to grind.
A lot of factors affect ratings…but the NFL is fine.
It certainly is not the NFL I watched growing up.
Not even close.
…and the word getting out now is that Goodell will not have his contract renewed.
They’ve got years left on both the CBA and TV contracts.
Those are the main things you look at for financial stability.
Gear sales are fine.
Ratings are climbing again and will even out…it’s been a tough year for injuries and some of the national matches have been dogs.
The kneeling noise will be over with sooner than later and life goes on.
It’s not the NFL I grew up with either…because that was the 1960’s and this isn’t.
Thing often not noted in this kneeling mess…
Instant replay is killing momentum in a game.
Safety rules, even if necessary, is also affecting it.
No one likes 3 and half hour games.
But…the Niners got a new QB!
Any thoughts on the actual topic of the article?
“Don’t touch the Lord’s anointed”…
While he is still pulpit, it is illegal to hit the anointed pastor above the shoulders or below the knees….
I do think that if a pastor or church leader does choose to expose himself outside of his own congregation, via internet, radio, or television; then he does expose himself to websites such as yours. This is no longer the 1990’s. How someone such as yourself chooses to expose which pastor is between you and God.
Thanks for finishing this article. It would be great if some prominent CCA pastors would correct the late Chuck Smith on his abuse of this phrase and not make the same mistake over and over again. But I have only heard crickets.
Looking at your two most recent articles the “abnormality” of these situations just seem to scream out. I may be unusual here, but I am used to not for profits and churches having boards that govern. In a number of churches, the pastor may chair the board, but in a real sense the pastor is also accountable to the board. In some churches the board members are elected at annual meetings, while in other churches (fewer) they are appointed. They usually include a vice-chair, a treasurer (with a financial background – accountant, investment, etc.) and a secretary for keeping minutes of monthly meeting. Also, the boards usually seek out people with particular expertise, such as a lawyer or two, people who have expertise in property and building, etc.. Related family members on such a board are not usually allowed.
It would seem to me that if a simply normal approach were taken with regard to board responsibilities, many of the abuses of authority and misuse of money could be avoided. Nothing works as well as “normal”. It also encourages an atmosphere of mutual accountability, whether in a not for profit or a church.
I think the greatest question one can ask when searching out churches is “How often do you have member voter’s meetings?” The reply would tell you a lot.Some will stare at you like a deer caught in the headlights.
Once you get the answer, then evaluate their doctrine etc.
Another question might be – “does the pastor have access to the church checkbook?”
I think both Duane and MLD have spoken wisely…
So I imagine there must be some shouting of not touching the Lord’s anointed in this whole PFM mess that has prompted the re-posting of this article. At the very least, we have seen some shades of it by some commenters.
Additionally, after reviewing the previous comments in this thread, I must confess I was wrong about who the anointed one was. Turned out to be Nick Foles and not Carson Wentz. 🙂
I miss Costco Cal☹️
There is so much misapplication of the O.T.
To me, what begs the question when people use this verse (incorrectly), is why does one assume that (whoever) is the Lord’s anointed in that capacity anyway? Even if one were able to use this phrase to defend a person who was the Lord’s anointed in a specific time/place/role (which I believe God does call people to serve in a time/place/role and one could call them the Lord’s anointed in a sense but not the one these verses lay out in context), what is the test? Some people believe Joel Osteen to be the Lord’s anointed and clearly they are wrong.
Basically, I could claim that a teaching pastor or discipler who had a profound impact on me to be the Lord’s anointed. To some people, The Rozell’s are the Lord’s anointed. But that is completely subjective. If you want to be more objective, some would argue that a person/people wouldn’t have the position that they do (senior pastor, ministry leader/founder) if the Lord were not putting that person there. Seem’s objective, but it’s also false in the sense they want to use it. King Nebuchadnezzar is called by God Himself His anointed servant, someone who clearly didn’t follow God in his heart when conquering Israel (also His anointed). In that sense, anyone God puts in authority is God’s anointed (Romans?).
The expression has a wide semantic range.
Back to my original point. The assumption those who throw this phrase around typically make is that their hero is the Lord’s specially called and anointed person, and no one had better attack them. In a broad principle sense, I would agree. One shouldn’t attack something God is doing or someone God is using. BUT, one needs to be able to examine (objectively) if the thing in question is actually from God in that sense, or not. Maybe they/it are/was for a time. Maybe that time has passed.
Bottom line, people need to hang on to heroes lightly and Jesus tightly.
Two years later, I’m still saying the same thing…
It would be interesting to track this usage of these verses. It happened here and there in the pentecostal world, so I wonder who did it first.
I had just considered it bad usage of OT, but as you point out even the OT example was David ruling out touching Saul with a weapon and instead humbly but publicly rebuking him. But usually when this verse had been pulled out, it is not in response to violence but to criticism.
This site continues to be a good contemporary example of raising one’s tongue appropriately against God’s errant shepherds.
Was I freaked out that there were CostcoCal comments? Yes. Yes I was. 🙁
The concept is a bad example. Look what happened to Saul, not to mention the many wicked kings of Israel and Judah, annointed into kingship.