Touch Not God’s Anointed
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 06, Dec 2018
“He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, and the covenant which He made with Abraham and His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance,” when they were only a few men in number, very few, and strangers in it. And they wandered about from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people. He permitted no man to oppress them, and He reproved kings for their sakes: “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.”
This portion of scriptures alludes to Abraham’s call to leave Ur and follow Him to a new land of Promise. The same promise was reaffirmed to Isaac and later to Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. YHWH protected and provided for the descendants of Abraham as they sojourned in Canaan. Verse 8 says ‘He has remembered His covenant forever. The focus of this biblical revelation is that God is faithful even when Israel is not. Case in point is today’s context. If we take the biblical view that a generation is 70 years, then from the time of Abraham till today 70 generations has passed. 70×70 is 4900 years. The story of Abraham was 5000 years old. Has God forgotten Israel? The answer is a definite No. Israel is still God’s people and their land is still Canaan. It is a testament of Psalms 105:8, ‘He has remembered His covenant forever. Fallen Israel’s hope is not on his ability to perform, although there is a required continuing repentant faith response necessity. Rather it is the unchanging character of God that provides hope and assurance. The phrase ‘to a thousand generation ‘is an idiom for God’s faithfulness and parallel to the word ‘forever’. Thousand is a symbolic number used in several senses. I shared recently that Samson, one of Israel’s judges used his miraculous strength and stamina, plus the jawbone of an ass, to kill 1000 men in the Philistine army. The number 1000 plays a critical role in God’s plan, especially concerning his and ours adversary the devil, or human enemies. Before Christ establishes the Kingdom of God on the earth, at his Second Coming, he will first have Satan imprisoned for 1000 years. So the phrase 1000 which is parallel to forever means that one of God’s covenant agreements is the defeat of our adversary or enemy forever.
The story of Abraham is repeated in the lives of a child of God. God loves to repeat His promise to us and reminds us of His Promise in our cycle of life as he has done it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Canaan is our reward in our life on earth. The word ‘forever’ indicates that it is a lie that God easily gives up on you. When he makes that covenant it is a forever commitment towards you. The family of Abraham started very small, actually one, but grew to be numerous as the stars of heaven, the sands on the sea shore. The same will happen to us when we cooperate with God.
But my emphasis this morning is on verse 15, ‘Do not Touch my Anointed Ones’. What can we learn from this phrase?
1. Who is God’s anointed?
The term ‘anointed one’ is used several times throughout the Bible, and in several different situations. For that reason, we need to understand right off the bat that there isn’t a single ‘anointed one’ in the Scripture, except for Jesus Christ. The term ‘anointed one’ is the root meaning of ‘Messiah’. Rather, the term applies to different people depending on the context in which it is used. It also refers to the Patriarch and the community God has chosen and equipped to perform His will. In most cases, ‘the anointed one’ being described is a regular person who has been specially set apart for God’s plan and purposes. I personally believe that there are individuals out there that are very ordinary but set apart for God’s plan and purposes and to harm them you get yourselves into trouble. This is what I call the anointed people. They have received a special calling from God. There are many such individuals in scriptures, most often notable public figures such as kings and prophets. Saul though evil he may be is such person. Another is King David. King David is often described in the Old Testament as God’s ‘anointed one’. Psalms 28:8 says this of David, ‘The LORD is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed.’ David, himself also uses a similar expression, ‘the Lord’s anointed’ to describe King Saul on a number of occasions. In any case, the person described as ‘anointed’ was chosen by God for a special purpose and a heavy responsibility – one that required a deeper connection with God himself. There are times also when the entire assembly of the Israelites, God’s chosen people is described as ‘anointed’. Looking at the Israelites today, I cannot but recognized that the Israelites are regular people but who has received an extraordinary call or blessing from God. However there are other times when the ‘anointed one’ being described is God himself, largely in connection with Jesus, the Messiah. Lastly but not the least, the real body of Christ can be considered the anointed ones. Now the term Christian has become such a misnomer. I mean America is considered a Christian nation, but it is not behaving like one. On the contrary America has birthed forth all forms of scandalous immoral behavior, corruption and hypocrisy. If there is a nation that is ripe for judgment today it is America. Even Philippines is considered a Christian nation. But Filipinos, catholic in belief, worshipped idols, practiced witchcraft and consult all forms of spiritism and paganism. Even among the evangelical, the supposedly born again, many are Christian just by name and not by lifestyle faith and lifestyle character. So when I mention that Christians are considered the anointed ones, I refer to a select group of Christians who walk with God in lifestyle faith and character. So I can say that if you touch them you get yourself into trouble.
2. The meaning of ‘Touch not my Anointed’.
Now what is the meaning of the phrase ‘Touch not my Anointed?’ Biblically this phrase came about in the relationship between David and King Saul. We have to understand that King Saul was a presumptuous and rebellious King towards God. Yet once he was anointed by God. I Samuel 10:1 says, ‘Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you to be prince over his people Israel. And you shall reign over the people of the LORD and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the LORD has anointed you to be prince over his heritage.” So there is no doubt that Saul was the anointed one and one of the sign is that he was able to prophesy. David was also the anointed one. So here we have two people that are anointed ones but David is subject to Saul in this case. This is a good case study for us when dealing with firstly someone that is evil but anointed and secondly someone who is anointed and above you.
1 Samuel chapter 24 and 26 record two accounts where David had an opportunity to kill Saul but refused to do so. The two accounts were preserved to establish the innocence of David’s in his relationship with Saul. So firstly, your refusal to touch God’s anointed will establish your innocence in your relationship with that anointed. Your defense of innocence will be magnificent and your enemy’s emotional response will only be full of pathos (anguish) and tragedy. David’s unwillingness to be the instrument of God’s judgment upon Saul raises probing questions about individuals taking vengeance upon those who have harmed them. So secondly your refusal to touch God’s anointed raises probing questions about individuals taking vengeance upon those who have harmed them. There are people who take vengeance upon God’s anointed but it is not approved by God. Of course it is always a temptation to do evil against God’s anointed. But the refusal to slay Saul was not based on a magnanimous spirit but on David’s deeply rooted belief that it was wrong to harm one whom God had anointed. Even though Saul deserved death, you would not be the executioner. Thirdly One of the promises of the covenant revealed in the number 1000 is that he will defeat our adversary or enemy forever. And the number 1000 implies that He will be faithful to do it. God knows what to do.
This is reaffirmed by none other than David when he says to Abishai in 1 Samuel 26:9 ‘But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless”’. David was taught, no doubt, by the Prophet Samuel to look upon the person of Saul as made sacred (holy and blessed) and inviolable (cannot be violated) by the anointing. Through the anointing Saul had become the possession of Jehovah; only Jehovah then, could lawfully take away that sacred life. This was elaborated by David in the next verse.
David’s reply to Abishai summarizes the theme of anointing. Firstly Saul was the Lord’s anointed. No one could touch him and be guiltless. It was the Lord’s place to strike him. Either Saul would die of natural causes or he would die in battle. David would leave the vindication to God. He would not lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed.
In an earlier incident found in 1 Samuel 24:5; where both Saul and David were in the same cave, instead of taking the opportunity to catch Saul off guard and kill him, David crept up behind him and cut off the corner of the King’s robe. Saul was not aware that David had done this, and David crawled back to his men with the prized possession. After doing this David’s behavior is surprising. He was conscience stricken; literally David’s heart struck him. David’s act symbolically attacked Saul’s claim to the kingship. First in taking the corner of the robe, David was implying the transfer of power from Saul to himself. Secondly by removing the corner David was most likely making Saul’s robe, the obvious symbol of his kingship. It means that he has taken over the kingship. But this is non-compliant with God’s law. The Lord had placed Saul in this position, and the Lord would remove him. Saul was the anointed of the LORD; literally it means the ‘messiah’ of the Lord. Raising his hand against Saul meant rebelling against the Lord. Thirdly by cutting the corner of the garment would make Saul looks like he is wearing a skirt. David is sorry he has cut off Saul’s skirt. His conscience disturbs him because he has made the king an object of ridicule. Let me explain this point. When you go about doing or saying things that make the Lord’s anointed an object of ridicule, you actually cut off his garment like David. This is the word of the late Vernon McGee; the respected Radio Bible commentator. He says, ‘I personally do not feel that the President of the United States, regardless of his party or character, should be made the subject of a cartoon or the object of ridicule. In a democracy, of course, he can be criticized, but to make our president a subject of ridicule, as do some cartoonists and some comedians, is entirely wrong. Now this is just my personal opinion, but I think that we ought to have more respect for the office than we do. We live in a country that has its faults, but it has been a great country for most of us, and its offices and officers should be respected.
So to understand the meaning of the anointed ones, there are three areas to consider especially in today’s context.
Firstly God’s anointed in the Old Testament. David’s servants were certain that finding Saul alone in the cave was God’s timing for his destruction at their hands, but David would have no part of it. We see clearly the issue was whether to kill God’s anointed.
Secondly the anointed ones today. 2 Corinthians 1:21 says, ‘Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a deposit.’ 1 John 2:20, 27 says, ‘But you (little children) have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know (understand) all things. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you and 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.’ I believe that we Christian, if we are genuine in our faith and demonstrated it by lifestyle character and lifestyle faith, we are told in no uncertain term that we are the anointed ones. But then in our relationship with one another, we are not to touch the anointed especially those in charge of us and above our jurisdiction. If only we could come to the place where we would let God handle our enemies. I remember that God told Pastor Lily specifically to seal her mouth and not to say anything when we were experiencing the greatest trials with those above us; considered the anointed ones. Personally, I promised them that I would not communicate with any of the 341 churches that were once under me to malign, to cause them to revolt, to cut the hem of their garments; to make them an object of ridicule. I think I have kept my part of the bargain quite well. As a rule, we want to take care of them, but God can do a much better job. We are told in Romans 12:19, ‘Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written. Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord.’ When we take things in our own hands, we are not longer walking by faith. We are not trusting God. What we are really saying is, “Lord, we cannot trust you to handle this the way we want it handled, so we are going to do it ourselves. I also believe that if we have taken matter into our own hand and cause a revolt, God would not have blessed us like we are today. No matter what, they were once our leaders; the anointed ones. Of course, right now we are not under them and not subject to them.
We also must take note that just as Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus were not children of God, they were definitely the anointed ones of God. Today I believe that there are public leaders put by God as anointed ones to fulfill His plan and purposes and we as citizen of the world are not to touch the anointed. To touch the anointed I mean to kill them, or to harm them. Like David, learn to respect the office of the King, President, although you may not have respected the man. I believe that one of the reasons the recent California fires destroyed so many houses of celebrities is because as a whole, they were harming and attacking and ridiculing the office of the President of United States and the President himself.
The third area is the warped interpretation which is my third point.
3. The warped interpretation of the anointed ones
This is one of the most misused bible verses among the Christian circle. Therefore there is one major principle to apply when interpreting the Bible. It is context. Without a careful study you might get whatever meaning from a verse or passage you desire. Using verses apart from their surrounding context is how cults and sects usually arrive at their twisted interpretation of the Bible. I give you a simple example. I Corinthians 15:9 says, ‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.’ The Christian Standard Bible put it as ‘If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.’ Those of you who do not know the bible and the cults come to you with this verse it will shock you out of your life. Because we have all put our hope in Christ. And here is this verse who tells us that if we put our hope in Christ, we are to be pitied and most miserable. But we must read the whole context which is 1 Corinthians 15:16-19 which says, ‘For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.’ But the truth of the matter is that Christ is raised from the dead and therefore our faith is not in vain. And we are not miserable and hopeless because our sins have been forgiven. So context is the principle to understanding the bible. Going back to the verse ‘Touch not God’s anointed’, many pastor, evangelist, Bible teacher, prophet, missionary use the statement to mean, no one should question or force accountability upon them because they are the specially anointed ones.
When a Christian leader wants absolute control of a situation or people, he or she will sometimes resort to strange behavior or methods to gain or to keep such in control. One ploy is to use scripture – sort of as a bully whip to keep others in line; and one such use is to quote the phrase ‘touch not God’s anointed.’ By this they usually mean ‘I am God’s anointed messenger. He speaks to me and through me. The rest of you have not been specially called or anointed as I have, so God has forbidden you to speak against me, God’s anointed.’ Of course, confronting an anointed leader was not the issue in any of the Bible passages (you are not allowed to do so); doing them harm was the issue in each case. Sadly believers who are under such a legalistic influence may become conditioned into thinking that they have no rights to question the doctrine, attitude, methods or behavior of God‘s uniquely anointed servant. As if they ever do and are found out the verbal attacks upon them and the vengeful treatment of them will either drive them out from under the influence of such a leader, or will silence them from ever again questioning the leadership. In either case, the leader has won and will continue his or her tyrannical reign.
Honestly Pastor Lily and I came from such Christian teaching which Pastor James and Pastor Mike Cornel calls it, the Jezebel spirit, a witchcraft and demonic control. My leaders have absolute have power over of any state of affairs and circumstances or community in my life. And they resort to tyrannical behavior to gain and keep us in control. Their ploy was to use the bible phrase ‘touch not God’s anointed’ as a bully whip to keep me in line. They are only God’s messenger and only God speaks to them and through them. We have not been specially called or anointed as they and so it is forbidden to speak against God’s anointed. Confronting them will bring harm to us. Both Pastor Lily and I were under that control for 26 years. We found out and told them that we are also God’s anointed but it is just that we are not allowed to harm them because we were under them. Of course, we adopted their style of leadership but God has changed our leadership so much. I have repeated many times, that I can advise you on things pertaining to God concerning your life but I have no control over you. I don’t control who you want to get married to, which course you should take but of course I can advise you and warn you of the danger of choices you make. And I know that God will have to discipline you when you purposefully go against the bible teaching but even that I have no control over your life.
God never intended His church to be ruled over by men or women who insisted on having the preeminence, or who would insist on being above criticism or accountability. Instead, God tells us that Christ ‘is the head of the body, the church,’ that in all things He may have the preeminence. The leaders, as we have previously observed, are to be the greatest servants of all. They are to lead by example. They are plainly told to ‘shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock,
You ask, “Pastor, what if that anointed person is evil?’ Well, King Saul was such a person. But David leaves him in Jehovah’s hand, saying, in 2 Kings 15:5, ‘As Jehovah liveth, Jehovah shall smite him, or his day.’ Literally it means, ‘As Jehovah liveth (I will not smite him), but Jehovah shall smite him; either his day shall come and he shall die; or he shall go down into battle and perish.’ Whenever he falls, it shall be Jehovah’s doing, whether he die a natural death, or a violent one in battle. The smiting of Jehovah does not imply a sudden death. God smites men with disease and other troubles. What David means is that He will leave the matter entirely to God, but that if Saul’s death is to be a violent one, he must fall honorably not by the hand of a subject, but in battle with Israel’s enemies. David understood how easily can God weaken the strongest, make a fool of the wisest, and baffles the most watchful. And David resolved to wait till God thought fit to avenge him on Saul. He will by no means force his way upon Saul by the wrong methods. The temptation was very strong; but if he yielded he would sin against God, therefore he resisted the temptation, and trusted God with the event.