**DISCLAIMER: This post is not about church discipline or the protocol and process of spiritual leadership. This post simply seeks to rectify the meaning of a verse of Holy Scripture that has undergone substantial misuse. Therefore, the point of this post is to enlighten the Body of Christ on the proper understanding and application of a portion of Scripture. Nothing more.**
A while back, I was wasting a significant amount of time on my Facebook feed, when I noticed an article about honoring pastors and leaders in the Church. Curious, I clicked on the article and began to read.
The implications of the article were ghastly. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. In essence, the article was saying that we should never question leaders that God has placed over us. Instead, we should always be in complete and total obedience to the pastor, no matter what. What verse was used to back up this non-biblical teaching? Why, it was 1 Chronicles 16:22, which states ” Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”
Yes, when removed from the rest of the text, this passage seems to be a command to never move against God’s anointed. The conclusion that many come to in reading this verse alone is this: Since pastors and preachers are anointed by God, then this means we should never question leadership that God has ordained. My friends, I am here to say that this verse does not mean this in the slightest. Here’s some context:
When you were few in number,
of little account, and sojourners in it,
wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
do my prophets no harm!”- 1 Chronicles 16:19-22
By merely backing up three verses, we can clearly see that verse 22 takes on a whole new meaning. If you go to the beginning of the chapter, you see that it is a time of celebration in Jerusalem, as the Ark of the Covenant had finally been returned to its proper place there. We see the the Ark being placed in a tent, and King David commands that worship should commence unto God for the return of the Ark (v.1-7). From there, they begin singing a song of thanksgiving unto God. This song lasts from v.8-36. The song recounts the works of the Lord, including God’s protection and provision for His people in their journey through Canaan to receive the land that God had promised for their inheritance. It is in the midst of this song we find the main text of our discussion.
Now knowing the context of v.22, we can clearly derive its meaning. The verse speaks to the fact that God rebuked and opposed all that would stand against Israel and their promise. The term “anointed ones” refers to the whole of Israel, the descendants of Abraham that God had set apart for Himself. Similarly, the term “prophets” refers specifically to the leaders of Israel who were regarded as prophets (Abraham, Moses, various judges etc.). So, we see that these two terms speak to Israel collectively and do not indicate a warning against disagreeing with church leadership. While I absolutely believe that respect and honor should be given to pastors and church leaders (another post for another time), you can clearly see that is not what is meant here.
This verse is a prime example of poor study resulting in faulty application. I have personally heard ministers and pastors wield this verse to advance their agenda. Whenever a decision or statement was called into question, the minister in question would say something like, “You better be careful. The Bible says to touch not my anointed.”
That is bullying and intimidation, not biblical command. If a minister (or even a church member) uses that verse to tell you that you are in the wrong for questioning a decision that was made, you might want to reevaluate whether or not you are in a healthy church. To be clear, I am not saying that you can be rebellious against your spiritual leadership. Yet if someone is using this verse to enforce authority, it’s best you leave that environment. Hopefully this short post has helped you see that this verse, like many others, must be used in its proper context.
When we misuse the Scriptures, disaster is sure to follow.
*This is a short post for Tuesday. Be on the lookout for my next post on Friday!!!*