We often hear this scripture quoted by evangelists, prophets, pastors and televangelists whenever anyone questions them, their doctrine, or theology. We even hear it quoted by and in defense of deacons choir directors or Sunday School teachers. We’ve heard it recently in defense of politicians as long as they quote scripture or say that I’ve been born again. It’s quoted to intimidate and/or frighten anyone who dares to criticize or question. Those who use it to intimidate do so because they say that's what the Bible says so it should be obeyed without question.
The first time that I heard it used to intimidate and frighten, was when a Christian brother, who had questioned some of the actions of the pastor of the church we were attending, was having a stroke. While standing there waiting for the paramedics one of the men said “the word says touch not my anointed”. I thought at the time that doesn’t fit what I believe to be the “MO” of the character of the God of the New Covenant.
I always had a problem when hearing this Scripture when I knew that someone was wrong in their doctrine or in some action that was, let’s call it what it was, a sin. In the last three years I’ve studied, taught and written about false teaching, false prophets, and biblical error. What I’ve learned is that when you spot it you are to expose it then get away from it.
Romans 16:17-19 (NKJV)17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.
Ephesians 5:11 (NKJV) And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
Titus 1:10-16 (NKJV)10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.15 To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
Titus 3:9-11 (NKJV)9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition,11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
I knew that God doesn’t contradict Himself so the Bible shouldn’t either. The answer must be in the context of the Scripture. To really understand it we must read it in the context that it was said and written.
We Christians often take Scripture out of context and use it to justify many things, even things that are in direct opposition to the nature of God. “Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm” is one of those Scriptures.
"Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm."
When you read the comment in context it is clear that David is writing about God’s Covenant with the people of Israel and their patriarchs. He specifically mentions Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We are told that God protected His anointed (Israel) and His prophets from the enemies of Israel who would have done them bodily harm, not slander, or disgrace but physical harm. The thought had nothing to do with questioning the teachings of church leaders, or other Christians. In this context the words "touch" and "do no harm" refer to physical harm of someone.
God, Himself, warns false prophets of them their fate.
Jeremiah 23:15-21 (NKJV) 15 "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: 'Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, And make them drink the water of gall; For from the prophets of Jerusalem Profaneness has gone out into all the land.' "
16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the LORD.17 They continually say to those who despise Me, 'The LORD has said, "You shall have peace" '; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, 'No evil shall come upon you.' "18 For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, And has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it?19 Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD has gone forth in fury-- A violent whirlwind! It will fall violently on the head of the wicked.20 The anger of the LORD will not turn back Until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly.21 "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
Ezekiel 13:8-16 (NKJV) 8 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you," says the Lord GOD.
9 My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.10 Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace--and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar--
11 say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down.
12 Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, 'Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?' "13 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it.14 So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.15 Thus will I accomplish My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it with untempered mortar; and I will say to you, 'The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it,16 that is, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,' " says the Lord GOD.
When he wrote this psalm David may also have remembered what he did when he had opportunity to kill Saul who chased him for years in an attempt to kill him. He identified the monarchy of Israel as the Lord's anointed. Again he was talking about physical harm not criticism.
1 Samuel 24:4-7 (NKJV)4 Then the men of David said to him, "This is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.' " And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul's robe.5 Now it happened afterward that David's heart troubled him because he had cut Saul's robe.6 And he said to his men, "The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD'S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD."7 So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way.
1 Samuel 26:21-24 (NKJV)21 Then Saul said, "I have sinned. Return, my son David. For I will harm you no more, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Indeed I have played the fool and erred exceedingly."22 And David answered and said, "Here is the king's spear. Let one of the young men come over and get it.23 May the LORD repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the LORD delivered you into my hand today, but I would not stretch out my hand against the LORD'S anointed.24 And indeed, as your life was valued much this day in my eyes, so let my life be valued much in the eyes of the LORD, and let Him deliver me out of all tribulation."
Who are the anointed today?
According to scripture all Christians are anointed.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NKJV)21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
1 John 2:26-27 (NKJV)26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
Today too many people try to threaten others by using “don’t touch God’s anointed” in an effort to silence critics who expose them, their actions and their teachings. When someone says they are “anointed” or “led by the Spirit” but consistently teach contrary to the Word in its context, you can be sure that they’re not being led by God’s Spirit and the truth is not in them. If you are really anointed you don’t have to make threats anyway since the scripture you quote, says that God will protect you.
Psalm 20:6-7 (NKJV)6 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Don’t let someone intimidate you by using “touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm” to keep you from speaking biblical truth or pointing out the error of a pastor religious leader, a politician, even the President. Doing so is part of your anointing.
* These verses also appear in 1 Chronicles 16:8-22 as a Psalm written by David.
1 Chronicles 16:8-22 (NKJV)8 Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!10 Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!11 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore!12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,13 O seed of Israel His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!14 He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth.15 Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,16 The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac,17 And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel for an everlasting covenant,18 Saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan As the allotment of your inheritance,"19 When you were few in number, Indeed very few, and strangers in it.20 When they went from one nation to another, And from one kingdom to another people,21 He permitted no man to do them wrong; Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes,22 Saying, "Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm."