Does “touch not mine anointed” forbid us from correcting erring church leaders?


by Shawn Brasseaux

In an effort to “lord over God’s heritage” unopposed (1 Peter 5:3), pompous and tyrannical ministers and teachers through the years have fled to the Scriptures for refuge. Their favorite passages in this regard, of course, can be summarized with the following maxim: “Touch not God’s anointed!” In other words, “Do not challenge me, for I am a leader and not a peon such as yourself!” Does God’s Word actually forbid us from correcting erring church leaders? Have they been authorized to do as they please, without any resistance?

Pay attention to the two verses a pastor or teacher may employ when being opposed:

  • 1 Chronicles 16:22: “Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”
  • Psalm 105:15: “Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”

Based on these passages, it is thus argued: “God Himself selected me to be over you! I am His anointed and His appointed! You have no right to defy me, questioning what I teach and/or believe, telling me how I should run this assembly!” It is sad to say it, but this is just another classic example of ripping verses out of context to prove a denominational position.

Read the Chronicles passage in context, King David composing and singing a psalm (song) as they bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem: “[15] Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; [16] Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; [17] And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, [18] Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance; [19] When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it. [20] And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; [21] He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, [22] Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” As previously noted, this song of David is also preserved for us in Psalm 105.

The LORD’S “anointed” in these passages is certainly not some church leader in this the Dispensation of Grace. If we let the context speak (will we?), it is JEHOVAH God ordering the Gentiles not to harm Israel’s patriarchs as they migrated during the nation’s infancy. Two prime occasions of this are Genesis 20:1-18 (Abraham and Sarah) and Genesis 26:1-16 (Isaac and Rebekah). These verses have absolutely nothing to do with us!

On the contrary, 1 Timothy 5:19 certainly does apply to church leaders in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” The “elder” or church leader is certainly not immune to personal sins or false teaching. We would do well to note: if there are two or three independent witnesses to corroborate his misbehavior, he should be the subject of an investigation (done meekly in Christian love and within the assembly, of course). This is not done to shame him, but rather protect the congregation from any contamination. If his dismissal from the assembly is the only viable solution, that God’s ministry not suffer, then so be it. The local church should seek out a man who will be faithful to sound Bible doctrine.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:28-32).

Also see:
» What about modern-day apostles and prophets?
» Should ministers study Scripture to prepare for teaching?
» Is the “Divine right of kings” a Scriptural concept?

» How do we identify false teachers?