Do not touch the Lord’s anointed.

Of the most misquoted scriptures, 1 Chronicles 16:22 is among the top ones. In Christian circles, the big-wigs of the faith (bishops, pastors, deacons, evangelists, prophets etc.) use this scripture as a means of defence against criticism and rightful rebukes from members who find a few things off the tangent in regards to their ministry. 

Contextual understanding

What is this chapter, and in particular, this verse all about? First, David has brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. Previously, Uzzah had died because of mishandling the ark as it came from Palestinian captivity. The death caused great fear to grip David and his team that they halted the journey so that they can reconsider their steps. After ample research, they realized that the handling of the ark was not in line with God’s prescribed laws. Necessary changes had to be made. The ark is brought to the great city of Jerusalem and into the Tent of meeting where it belonged. 

Out of joy, David penned down the words of thanksgiving for God’s faithful dealings with Israel, his otherwise rebellious people. In the song, David thanks God for revealing his works to men, encouraging the Israelites to praise God and remember his wondrous works from times past (from Abraham to Egypt) and Egypt to the promised land. Verse 19 tells of how God grew the numbers of the Israelites from a family to a nation and put a shield of protection around them (from kings and other rebellious nations), saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!” It is important to note here that the application of this statement is foremost to the Israelites in their journey before it is about the bishops, pastors, prophets and Church leaders. 

Anointed ones

The other thing we need to deconstruct is the use of the word ‘anointed ones’. What exactly is David seeking to express? The Jews were (are) the anointed ones of God- God had set them aside from all the other people to show his glory by His dealings with them- and therefore, they were under divine protection. It is noteworthy because that is what the Lord intended in his plan to bless all the nations through the offspring of Abraham. The phrase ‘anointed one’ refers to one set aside by God to fulfil a specific work. The Jews are the anointed ones in this context. God, through Israel, desired the salvation of nations. That was God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12

Kings in Israel were also referred to as anointed ones. For instance, when the opportunities arose to finish off King Saul, David warned his men, saying, “Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.” 1 Samuel 24:6. Other references are in 1 Samuel 26:92 Samuel 1:14-15 and 2 Samuel 19:21

Secondly, the phrase became singular to refer to the work of the Messiah who would eventually restore all men to God by faith on account of his finished work on the cross (Luke 4:18Acts 4:27, 10:38). Thus, the phrase, in explicit reference to Christ, also means the Messiah. At least, within the confines of scripture, no pastor or pastoral office is explicitly referred to as an anointed office. Instead, the scripture calls us all saints (Romans 1:71 Cor. 1:2 etc.), co-workers (1 Cor. 3:9-17with Christ, a chosen race, and a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)- if indeed we have the regeneration by His Spirit. 

Conclusion

All the hullaballoo around this matter is unfounded and unbiblical. None of us is beyond rebuke, confrontation and correction. We are called to ‘speak the truth in love ( Ephesians 4:15) and must use this as a rule when a situation arises that needs attention. We are all equals among many, and none of us can claim to be untouchable. If you are a believer, there is no way that your pastor or church is greater and better than you. We are all chosen by the Lord for his glory. We, in Christ Jesus, are the Lord’s anointed ones. We do not need titles. 

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