Touch Not The Lord’s Anointed?

Touch Not The Lord’s Anointed? March 7, 2017

Those who’ve attended a spiritually-abusive church have more than likely heard some version of a warning drawn from the pages of Scripture about not challenging a leader’s authority: “Touch not God’s anointed.”

There are a couple of big problems with this kind of talk. First, in an authoritarian church system, challenging a leader’s authority might mean anything from not showing up every time the church doors are open to daring to ask a question or express a doubt about something a leaders has said. Second, this warning (which, let’s face it, sounds pretty ominous when its pronounced over a congregation in KJV English) is yanked out of its context. The phrase is found in 1 Chronicles 16:22 and Psalm 105:15. Both of these passages celebrate God’s protection over his Chosen People (“God’s anointed”) during their wanderings before entering the Promised Land and have nothing to do with our relationship to human authority.

However, the verses have long served as a shorthand way of expressing the proper response of subjects to the Divine right of kings. The example drawn from Scripture to affirm that a ruler’s authority comes from God and we humans should not in any way meddle with it is David. He is the exemplar of someone who chose not to touch God’s anointed, King Saul, even though Saul was bent on destroying the young man who’d been anointed to be his replacement. [Read more]

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