Context is everything. Systematic studies in theologies and doctrines, proper hermeneutics and correct understanding of Biblical or any other ancient/historical writings require it. Context is a way for us to determine a few important purposes that surround writings. Who was it written by, who was it written to, and what circumstances caused the need to write?
In this study, we will look at the way in which modern spiritual leaders use the Biblical phrase “Touch not my anointed.”, out of context and generally in a way that subverts the individual from being able to question teachings that may not line up to Scripture. So what did “Touch not my anointed” really mean?
First, let me provide a short context for this article. Having come from a high-control (cult) style religious organization, any form of a question that challenged the leadership, or pastor was forbidden. In fact, the pastor of that church one time said, “I don’t mind people who have questions so long as they accept my answers.” Another time he said, “If I’m teaching anything outside of this book (holding up a Bible) you just obey anyway. God will work on me.”
And, of course, those people repeated the phrase, when teaching on ‘submission’, that is. being totally submitted to your ‘pastor’, “Touch not my anointed.” Another way this was propagated was teaching the people that they needed to defend the pastor, by saying things like, “If you hear someone speaking against or about your man of God, you shouldn’t tolerate it.”
There was one individual in the church (cult) I left that would pump his fist in the air, shouting, “You come against my man of God, you’ll get the five-folded ministry.” And while I think there is worth in valuing your pastor, respecting your pastor, honoring your pastor, imitating your pastor, insomuch that he/she is teaching true doctrine, being willing to threaten physical harm to someone who disagrees with or speaks against your pastor is extreme and fanatical and is evidence of a cult.
It is surprising, to note, that it is generally among the Charismatic/Pentecostal circles that this is found, and in other sects that reach to the pedigree of cults. This obedience and teachings can be found in Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, etc. Furthermore, while they do not use Scripture, the same principle is found inside other non-Christian sects like Scientology, where you are given gag-orders from speaking about the organization.
Silence is paramount in high-control groups, and this usage of Scripture, out of context, should be seen as dangerous and detached from the reality of Scripture. So let’s explore what it was really intended to mean.
Touch Not My Anointed
So what does this phrase really mean? Well first, we need some context surrounding the two places we find this in Scripture. The first is in Psalm 105 and the second in 1 Chronicles 16.
Psa 105:15 “Don’t touch my anointed or hurt my prophets!” ~ ISV
1Ch 16:22 “Don’t touch my chosen ones, and don’t hurt my prophets!” ~ ISV
In both cases, the context is the same. In Psalm, this was a song surrounding the story of Israelites and the covenant God made with them, through Abraham, and Isaac, and the Sons of Jacob. 1 Chronicles 16 is where we see the recounting of this as a historic event.
In this event, the phrase was not a commandment to the peoples of Israel, it wasn’t a statement made directed TO the Israelite people, rather, it was a recounting of the story of the time the people wandered in the wilderness and how God warned the kings of other nations not to harm his people. (No doubt through the spoken word of the Prophets)
The phrase was a warning call to those who would harm God’s chosen, such as Pharoah, or the Canaanite leaders, etc. It was a promise, that God would avenge his chosen people should others do them harm.
Furthermore, and most importantly, this was a commandment of physical harm whereas modern day charlatans use it to dissuade verbal challenge to their doctrines and positions of power. Clearly, that is a highly invalid use of this Scripture. Let’s look at the meaning of the words following their context.
We see this exemplified in the actions of David, who while on the run from King Saul had every opportunity to kill Saul, in retribution, or even in defense of his own life. Yet, when it seemed God had delivered Saul to the slaughter, David remembered this and refused to lay hands upon the King.
Now think about this – during this time, David DID speak against the King, and so did others. Did God strike David down for speaking against the falsities of King Saul? Absolutely not. Yet David still respected the King enough not to do him physical harm.
So what does Touch and Anointed actually mean?
Touch – nâga‛ – (pronounced naw-gah’) [occurs 150 times in the KJV Bible]
A primitive root; properly to touch, that is, lay the hand upon (for any purpose; euphemistically, to lie with a woman); by implication to reach (figuratively to arrive, acquire); violently, to strike (punish, defeat, destroy, etc.): – beat, (X be able to) bring (down), cast, come (nigh), draw near (nigh), get up, happen, join, near, plague, reach (up), smite, strike, touch.
Anointed – mâshı̂yach – (pronounced maw-shee’-akh) [occurs 39 times in KJV Bible]
From H4886; anointed; usually a consecrated person (as a king, priest, or saint); specifically the Messiah: – anointed, Messiah.
Thus, you can correctly render this verse as such;
Do not strike, or cause harm, even unto death, any of my anointed kings and priests of my people!
For the likes of Benny Hinn, TD Jakes and other mainstream millionaires selling a bill of goods for your offerings and obedience, this phrase, “Touch not my anointed.” is a favorite when they crusade, and their money-making machine gospel crusades are challenged and called in to question.
For others, small town bishops, pastors, evangelists, prophets and preachers, who speak lies using the Scripture, slowly and over time dripping the message of ‘submission’ and ‘obedience’ to the person instead of the God, this phrase is a defense, a barrier, a shield, and a shroud to their nefarious ways. It teaches people to be quiet, to accept wrongdoing because it is somehow more wrong to talk against that person.
For others, it’s a household phrase that gets used commonly and for the wrong purposes, and so just like the saying (not actually a Scripture) ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’, it becomes sanctified, canonized, Gospel, used at times even from those who simply mean well but misinterpret or misappropriate the scripture.
When I first started exposing the evils of the cult I left, a young man who was in that church told me, ‘I just want you to be careful what you say about the pastor. God will judge the things you say.’ While this well-meaning person did no wrong, this was born with the false understanding that ‘Touch not my anointed.’ meant that you were not to expose false doctrines, evil teachings, and manipulation of Scripture for the personal gain of false teachers.
So I say this, we are to seek peace with all men. We are to guard our tongues, the most unruly member of our bodies. We are not to slander, or to lie against another. We are, however, commanded to challenge teachers, to learn their motivations, to ensure what they teach is true and not false doctrine. And when we find false doctrine, expose it, mark it, avoid it, and end it.
Dear friends, stop believing every spirit. Instead, test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~ 1 John 4:1, ISV