False prophets and teachers and ungodly leadership use this verse to silence perceived criticism or the voice of truth. It’s an aggressive and manipulative tactic that works because believers don’t fully understand the meaning and consequences of the warning.
Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm.” (Psalm 105:15)
There are some Bible verses that are misused and abused more often than they are correctly used. Today’s verse is one of these. As the false teachers and prophets become more prolific, touch not my anointed is thrown out repeatedly as a defensive weapon to silence the voices of truth. It’s also used to justify abusive leadership. The tragedy is that it sounds scriptural – because it is – and so few people think to question it or to find out what it really means. As a result, the spiritual power of proper discernment and is shut down under the guise of being obedient to the Word of God. The devil, as revealed in the temptation of Christ, is very quick to use the Word to achieve his own ends. In this case, it’s the perpetuation of ungodly teachings and authority within the church.
Touch not my anointed in the Old Testament.
To properly understand this verse, we must look at its Old Testament context. It’s worth digging into this, but for simplicity’s sake, this verse specifically relates to God’s protection of His people – His anointed ones, those set apart for Him as patriarchs, priests, and prophets and His people as a whole. It was a warning and a promise that God Himself protected those call to be His own and had nothing at all to do with spiritual leaders or teachers. There is an echo of this in the story of David refusing to kill Saul in the caves because he was still God’s anointed king. From this, we can see that God’s anointing included His people as a whole but also extended to individuals whom He had anointed for a particular purpose or service. The common factor here is separated unto God – those belonging to Him.
The second truth that emerges clearly here is that the word ‘touch’ means just that. It means laying hands upon or causing harm to someone. This is illustrated through David who refused to kill Saul but did not hesitate to speak the truth about him. The relevance of this is significant, because God will always honour the truth. Touch not my anointed does not mean that we cannot speak the truth. It means to not physically lay hands on or harm His anointed. Of course, the ability to speak out does not include speaking falsehood. It means speaking the truth, but that isn’t the relevance of today’s verse. God has issued a severe warning against physically harming those set apart as His people and for His purpose. It is a warning for His people as well as for the enemies of His people.
The consequences of touch not my anointed.
When we read the Bible and see how many of God’s prophets met with violent ends, it’s tempting to question the veracity of today’s verse. If God issues a severe warning, why is it that Isaiah, for example, was sawed in half? The simple answer is that mankind will do as he wills. This doesn’t alter the severity of the warning or its consequences. It’s true that God did, for example with Abraham, protect His anointed before anything actually happened. But it’s as often true that His anointed were tortured and put to death by their enemies and by their own people. These realities don’t alter the consequences of touch not my anointed. The warning is that God will Himself deal severely with those who break this command. All those who harmed or put to death His anointed will be dealt with. It’s a final and not-negotiable outcome.
While our verse today is specific to an Old Testament context, the spiritual principle it embodies has never changed. God is very jealous for those He calls His own. Those new Christians in Acts were His anointed, just as the Jews were in the Old Testament. They were set apart and called by His name, and carried the anointing of the Spirit. As such, the warning and its consequences apply as powerfully as they did in Abraham or David’s day. We can be absolutely certain that all those who martyred and tortured those believers faced the consequences of their choice to disobey this injunction. Whether we see it or not, or whether in this life or the next, we can be sure He will judge them according to their actions. Touch not my anointed has never been revoked. It is as relevant today as it ever was.
Touch not my anointed in the church.
From the above we can see that the prohibition against physical harm or death still applies in a church context. The difference today, of course, is that we’re ‘civilised’ and destroy people by other means rather than beheading them or feeding them to the lions. The result of this shift to non-violence is that the way is now wide open for the abuse of touch not my anointed. I’ve lost count of how many self-proclaimed ‘anointed prophets’ and teachers have lashed out using this verse to shut down the voice of truth or perceived criticism of their ministry. Anytime they are confronted with the real truth of the Word of God, out will come this accusation. It’s an extremely aggressive tactic, because it threatens with the vengeance of God. It effectively silences anyone who doesn’t yet know the Word or doesn’t understand what this verse really means.
The other area where this is horribly abused is in ‘validating’ ungodly leadership – the kind that seeks to control and manipulate believers. In this scenario, the pastor or eldership team reinforce their power by using the touch not my anointed card. They create the perception in believers that leadership is inviolate. Because they are anointed by God they are beyond reproach and cannot be questioned. This is an extremely dangerous spiritual place, the breeding ground of many religious cults that are actually offshoots of genuine Bible-believing churches. The Word of God commands us to judge all things by the Word. If we receive teaching that does not conform to the Word, it is our responsibility to question it. Pastors, prophets, and teachers are all human and therefore fallible. Questioning wrong teaching or manipulative and controlling leadership does not constitute harming the Lord’s anointed. We are commanded to do so.
Touch not my anointed is for every believer.
In Christ, every single born-again, Spirit-filled believer is anointed of God. Today’s verse applies to every one of us. It’s our promise that no matter what happens to us, God Himself will enforce the consequences of this warning. He does not say His people won’t be persecuted, tortured, or even martyred. There are places in the world where this is happening. But we can hold on to the absolute truth that belonging to God is to be among the anointed. We are those He watches over and is jealous for – so jealous that those who raise a hand to harm us cannot escape the consequences. We live in the promise of eternal life in and with Him. Our physical bodies are temporary yet even these are precious to God. So precious that touch not my anointed stands as a forever warning for those who raise their hands against us.
Father God, Lord of All, thank You that in Jesus, we are seated amongst Your anointed and assured of Your watchfulness. Thank You that You are eternally faithful to deal with those who seek to harm us. Help us to choose a life that is set apart for You, to live in surrender to Your will and purpose as Your people and those called by Your precious name. Give us the courage to speak Your truth and to weigh all against Your Word. Empower us to stand against the false prophets and those who seek to manipulate Your Word for their own purposes. Give us a revelation of Your Word in all things so that we can honour You with all we are.