Touch Not the Lord's Anointed

As PeaceMakers has ministered to many wounded and abused by Clergy and Church Leaders, I'm often asked...
"Can't we keep this secret, I don't want to harm their ministry? What about their ministry-it looks like God is really blessing them?  What about 'touch not the Lord's anointed?

While you read the following articles please keep in mind: A Priest who sexually abuses a male student; A Youth Pastor who criminally sexually abuses young girls; A Pastor's anger & violence sending elders and members for medical treatment; Pastors & Televanglist who live opulent lives, Pastors & Televanglists committing sexual sins, Elders & Deacons sexual sins; Elders & Deacons mishandling of finances, stealing; A Televanglist stealing money; A Para-Church leader's stuborn failure to.... well you get the picture.

We've come to express Biblical Eldership and Leadership as those who are good stewards of Christ's Authority-man is never THE authority but as Hebrews 13 says "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of {their} conversation." The term converstaion is defined as [G391]  anastrophe {an-as-trof-ay'}; from 390; behavior: -conversation.

John Calvin speaking of honoring parents says: "note that we are bidden to obey our parents only "in the Lord" [ Ephesians 6:1]. This is apparent from the principle already laid down. For they sit in that place to which they have been advanced by the Lord, who shares with them a part of his honor. Therefore, the submission paid to them ought to be a step toward honoring that highest Father. Hence, if they spur us to transgress the law, we have a perfect right to regard them not as parents, but as strangers who are trying to lead us away from obedience to our true Father. So should we act toward princes, lords, and every kind of superiors. It is unworthy and absurd for their eminence so to prevail as to pull down the loftiness of God. On the contrary, their eminence depends upon God's loftiness and ought to lead us to it."

Who are the Lord's "anointed"?

Barnes' Notes

Psalms 105:15
Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

[Saying, Touch not mine anointed] That is, This was the language of his "providence." It was as though God had said this. It is not meant that this was said in so many words, but this is the "poetic" form of representing the dealings of Providence. Compare Gen 26:11. The word "anointed" here means that God had, as it were, set them apart to his service, or that they were to him as kings, and priests, and prophets, sacred people, belonging to God. The "language" is not found in the Old Testament as applied to the patriarchs, but the "idea" is fairly implied there, that they belonged to God as sacred and holy men.

[And do my prophets no harm] As if God had thus spoken to them, and called them prophets. That is, they belonged to God as a sacred order: they were separate from other men, and God regarded them as his own.

Adam Clarke's Commentary

Psalms 105:15
Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

[Touch not mine anointed] It is supposed that the patriarchs are here intended; but the whole people of Israel may be meant. They were a kingdom of priests and kings unto God; and prophets, priests, and kings were always anointed.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary

Psalms 105:15
Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

(Saying), Touch not mine anointed-a verbal allusion to Gen 26:11. "Mine anointed" is (Hebrew) plural, and is explained by "prophets" in the next clause.

And do my prophets no harm. The anointing is the sign of the communication of the Spirit. "Mine anointed" are therefore those vessels of honour whom God fills with His Spirit: the consecrated bearers of God's revelation, "in whom the Spirit of God is," as Pharaoh said of Joseph (Gen 41:38). As the three classes, prophets, priests, and kings, used in later times to be anointed, so the patriarchs, to whom God revealed Himself, bare all three offices combined, and so are termed "mine anointed." So it shall be again in the last days (Isa 54:13; Joel 2:28-29; Zech 4:14, "the two anointed ones;" Rev 1:6, "kings and priests unto God and His (Christ's) Father"). In Gen 20:7, Isaac is termed by God "a prophet." Abraham received communications from God in the two forms usual in prophecy, vision and dream, (Gen 15.) So Isaac at Beersheba; Jacob at Bethel, Mahanaim, and Jabbok. The world durst not touch the anointed ones of Yahweh with impunity.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Ps 105:8-24

1. The persons with whom this covenant was made-with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, grandfather, father, and son, all eminent believers, Heb 11:8-9....

Even crowned heads, that did offer to wrong them, were not only checked and chidden for it, but controlled and baffled: He reproved kings for their sakes in dreams and visions, saying, "Touch not my anointed; it is at your peril if you do, nay, it shall not be in your power to do it; do my prophets no harm." Pharaoh king of Egypt was plagued (Gen 12:17) and Abimelech king of Gerar was sharply rebuked (Gen 20:6) for doing wrong to Abraham. Note, First, Even kings themselves are liable to God's rebukes if they do wrong. Secondly, God's prophets are his anointed, for they have the unction of the Spirit, that oil of gladness, 1 John 2:27. Thirdly, Those that offer to touch God's prophets, with design to harm them, may expect to hear of it one way or other. God is jealous for his prophets; whoso touches them touches the apple of his eye. Fourthly, Even those that touch the prophets, nay that kill the prophets (as many did), cannot do them any harm, any real harm. Lastly, God's anointed prophets are dearer to him than anointed kings themselves. Jeroboam's hand was withered when it was stretched out against a prophet.

let's establish the Biblical basis of God's Authority exercised righteously in HIS Church, remembering Calvin's admonishment "if they spur us to transgress the law, we have a perfect right to regard them not as parents, but as strangers who are trying to lead us away from obedience to our true Father. So should we act toward princes, lords, and every kind of superiors. It is unworthy and absurd for their eminence so to prevail as to pull down the loftiness of God.

by Ray C. Stedman

"Those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them," Jesus said to his disciples, "but it shall not be so among you!" Rather than being lords, he went on to say, disciples are to be servants of one another and the greatest is the one who is servant of all (Mark 10:42-43).

By these words Jesus indicates that an entirely different system of government than that employed by the world should prevail among Christians. Authority among Christians is not derived from the same source as worldly authority, nor is it to be exercised in the same manner. The world's view of authority places men over one another, as in a military command structure, a business executive hierarchy, or a governmental system. This is as it should be. Urged by the competitiveness created by the Fall, and faced with the rebelliousness and ruthlessness of sinful human nature, the world could not function without the use of command structures and executive decision.

But as Jesus carefully stated, " shall not be so among you." Disciples are always in a different relationship to one another than worldlings are. Christians are brothers and sisters, children of one Father, and members one of another. Jesus put it clearly in Matthew 23:8, "One is your Master, and all you are brethren."

Throughout twenty centuries the church has virtually ignored these words. Probably with the best of intentions, it has nevertheless repeatedly borrowed in toto the authority structures of the world, changed the names of executives from kings, generals, captains, presidents, governors, secretaries, heads, and chiefs to popes, patriarchs, bishops, stewards, deacons, pastors, and elders, and gone merrily on its way, lording it over the brethren and thus destroying the model of servanthood which our Lord intended. Christians have so totally forgotten Jesus' words that they frequently have set up the world's pattern of government without bothering to change the names, and have operated churches, mission organizations, youth organizations, schools, colleges, and seminaries, all in the name of Jesus Christ, but with presidents, directors, managers, heads and chiefs in no way different from corresponding secular structures.

It is probably too late to do much about altering the many structures that are commonly called "para-church" or "quasichurch" organizations, but certainly Jesus' words must not be ignored in the worship and training functions of the church itself. Somewhere, surely, the words of Jesus, " shall not be so among you," must find some effect. Yet in most churches today an unthinking acceptance has been given to the idea that the pastor is the final voice of authority in both doctrine and practice, and that he is the executive officer of the church with respect to administration. But surely, if a pope over the whole church is bad, a pope in every church is no better!

It is clear from the scriptures that the apostles were concerned about the danger of developing ecclesiastical bosses. In 2 Corinthians 1:24 Paul reminds the Corinthians concerning his own apostolic authority, "...not that we lord it over your faith; we work with you for your joy..." In the same letter he describes, with apparent disapproval, how the Corinthians reacted to certain leaders among themselves: "For you bear it if a man makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face" (2 Corinthians 11:20). Peter, too, is careful to warn the elders (and he includes himself among them) not to govern by being "...domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock." And John speaks strongly against Diotrephes "who likes to put himself first, and takes it on himself to put some out of the church." These first-century examples of church bosses indicate how easily churches then (as in the 20th century) ignored the words of Jesus, "it shall not be so among you."

But if the church is not to imitate the world in this matter, what is it to do? Leadership must certainly be exercised within the church and there must be some form of authority. What is it to be? The question is answered in Jesus' words: "One is your Master." All too long churches have behaved as if Jesus were far away in heaven and he has left it up to church leaders to make their own decisions and run their own affairs. But Jesus himself had assured them in giving the Great Commission, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." And in Matthew 18:20 he reiterated, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Clearly this indicates that he is present not only in the church as a whole but in every local church as well. It is Jesus himself, therefore, who is the ultimate authority within every body of Christians, and he is quite prepared to exercise his authority through the instrument he himself has ordained---the elderhood.

The task of the elders is not to run the church themselves, but to determine how the Lord in their midst wishes to run his church. Much of this he has already made known through the scriptures, which describe the impartation and exercise of spiritual gifts, the availability of resurrection power, and the responsibility of believers to bear one another's burdens, confess sins to one another, teach, admonish, and reprove one another, and witness to and serve the needs of a hurting world.

In the day-to-day decisions which every church faces, elders are to seek and find the mind of the Lord through an uncoerced unanimity, reached after thorough and biblically-related discussion. Thus, ultimate authority, even in practical matters, is vested in the Lord and in no one else. This is what the Book of Acts reveals in its description of the initiative actions of the Holy Spirit, who obviously planned and ordered the evangelizing strategy of the early church (Acts 8,13, etc.). The elders sought the mind of the Spirit and, when it was made clear to them, they acted with unity of thought and purpose. ("For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden..." Acts 15:28.) The authority, therefore, was not the authority of men but of God, and it was expressed not through men, acting as individuals, but through the collective, united agreement of men whom the Spirit had led to eldership (Acts (20:28).

The point is: no one man is the sole expression of the mind of the Spirit: no individual has authority from God to direct the affairs of the church. A plurality of elders is necessary as a safeguard to the all-too-human tendency to play God over other people. Even then, the authority exercised is not one of domination and arbitrary decree over anyone. The ability of a servant to influence anyone else does not lie in ordering someone around but by obtaining their voluntary consent. This is the nature of all authority among Christians, even that of the Lord himself! He does not force our obedience, but obtains it by love, expressed either in circumstantial discipline or by awakening gratitude through the meeting of our desperate needs.

The true authority of elders and other leaders in the church, then, is that of respect, aroused by their own loving and godly example. This is the force of two verses which are often cited by those who claim a unique authority of pastors over church members. The first is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13, "But we beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work." The key phrase is "and are over you in the Lord"; the Greek word in question is prohistamenous. Though this is translated "over you" in both the Revised Standard and King James versions, the word itself contains no implication of being over another. The New English Bible more properly renders it, "...and in the Lord's fellowship are your leaders and counsellors." The thought in the word is that of "standing before" others, not of "ruling over" them. It is the common word for leadership. Leaders can lead only if they are able to persuade some to follow.

Another verse used to support command authority is Hebrews 13:17, which the Revised Standard Version renders, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account." The imperative translated "obey" is from the word peitho, to persuade. In the middle voice, used here, Thayer's lexicon gives its meaning as "to suffer one's self to be persuaded." Again there is no thought of a right to command someone against his will, but the clear thrust is that leaders are persuaders whose ability to persuade arises not from a smooth tongue or a dominant personality, but from a personal walk which evokes respect.

At this point many may be tempted to say, "What difference does it make? After all, the pattern of command authority is too widely established to alter now, and besides, many churches seem to be doing all right as it is; why try to change now?"

In response, consider the following:

1. The Bible indicates that any deviation from the divine plan inevitably produces weakness, division, strife, increasing fruitlessness, and, ultimately, death. The present low state of many churches is testimony to the effects of ignoring, over a long period of time, God's way of working.

2. A command structure of authority in the church deprives the world of any model or demonstration of a different way of life than the one it already lives by. Worldlings see no difference in the church, and can see no reason why they should change and believe.

3. A command authority inevitably produces resentment, repression, exploitation and, finally, rebellion. It is the law, which scripture assures us we can never redeem or restore, but which must, by its very nature, condemn and repress.

4. The desire of the Lord Jesus to show to the world a wholly new form of authority which is consistent with grace, not law, is nullified by a command structure among Christians, and the gospel of dying-to-live is denied even before it is proclaimed. This means that God is robbed of his glory and distorted before the watching world. Nothing could be more serious than this!

Admittedly, a call for a change of this nature is radical, even revolutionary. But since when was the church called to be a conforming society? Is it not high time we took seriously our Lord's words: "it shall NOT be so among you"?

by John Gill

 2 SAMUEL 23:3 He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

THESE words may be considered as a declaration of what ought to be in every one that bears the character of a Ruler over men. He ought to consider, that he is a ruler of men, and not of brutes that he should be just; just to men in protecting their persons and property, and in administering justice and judgment unto them; that he should act as in the sight of God, as having the fear of God before his eyes, and do those things which are agreeable to him. Or they may be considered as a prophecy of what would be: that that there should, in after times, arise a Ruler over men, that would be just and righteous, ruling in the fear of God. I say, it may be considered as a declaration, under divine inspiration, of what ought to he found in every one that beareth so high a character among men, as to be a ruler over them. I repeat it again, such an one should consider, that he is appointed a ruler of men, not of brutes; and therefore ought to treat his subjects as rational creatures, and rule over them in a humane, kind and gentle manner; and not as tyrannical princes and governors do.

The Lord, by the prophet Ezekiel, complains of some that go by the name of Shepherds in Israel (which not only intends ecclesiastical, but civil rulers), that they ruled with force and cruelty, though the people they ruled over were the flock of the Lord; concerning whom he says, Ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God (Ezekiel 34:31). Persons that rule over men in such a tyrannical manner, disgrace human nature, and degrade themselves from the character of men, to that of beasts and therefore such are compared in Scripture to them. The four.3 monarchies, and the heads of them, in Daniel are said to be four beasts that arose out of the sea (Daniel 7:3). They are compared to those wild creatures that are the most fierce, cruel and savage: As a roaring lion and a raging bear, so is a wicked ruler over the poor people (Proverbs 28:15).

One that, rules over men, ought to be just and righteous in the administrations of his civil government. David delivers this as a precept under divine inspiration, commanding and obliging such persons so to be: and he confirmed and established it by his own example, who was a just ruler over men. “He ruled over all Israel, and executed justice and judgment among them:” this is the testimony bore of him in <100815> 2 Samuel 8:15. There was nothing more desirable to him than that the same administration should be continued in his successors, particularly in Solomon his immediate successor.

 Psalm 72, which was a psalm wrote for Solomon, begins thus, Give the King thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the King’s son: that is, may he be directed, assisted and enabled to execute justice, judgment and righteousness among his subjects. This is requisite in every ruler of men whatever, wherever he is, or over whomsoever he is a ruler; for the king’s throne is established by righteousness: that is the surest basis, the best security and strength of his throne and government.

A ruler of men ought also to rule in the fear of the Lord: and the rather as he is to consider that he is the Lord’s vicegerent; that he stands in his room and stead; personates and represents Him; acts in his name; is accountable to him for what he does; and still more, as he, whom he represents, and under whom he acts, is able to set up and put down at his pleasure. Then may a ruler over men be said to rule in the fear of God, when he rules as under the eye of the omniscient God whom he represents and according to the law’s of God: and when he is an encourager of every thing good and virtuous, and a discourager of every evil; a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well; when he makes use of his power and authority, to promote and protect the interest, of God and of religion among his subjects; when he not only tolerates, but encourages, those that fear the Lord, to serve and worship Him according to his revealed will: then, may such a. ruler, he, or she, be said to he a nursing father or a nursing mother to God’s Israel.

But the words may be considered as a Prophecy of some certain person that should arise; to whom these characters altogether agree. A ruler over men should be righteous, ruling in the fear of God (the words will bear to be rendered, There shall be, etc.) and the rather, this may be supposed to be the sense, because the last words of David, of which these are a part, were spoken under a spirit of prophecy; and David might encourage and comfort himself with a view of this, as he did with a view of the everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure ( 2 Samuel 23:5). Although my house be not so with God: though his family was not in such a condition and circumstances as he could wish for, yet this was what gave him relief and supported his spirits, that God had made with him an everlasting covenant; ordered in all things and sure. And well it might he a support unto him, and yield him relief and comfort in a view of the discouraging prospect he had of his family; when he was assured that there would be one arise, of his seed, that should be a Ruler over men, that would be righteous, and rule in the fear of the Lord; he could see, by the spirit of prophecy, that there would be a numerous race of kings spring from him, and few of them good: the greater part evil rulers; but yet there would be one, the King Messiah, who should rule over men just and righteous, and ruling in the fear of the Lord. To him I apprehend these words belong: and our business will be, to shew that these characters agree with him; or that there is that to he found in the true Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, which answers to them all.

This prophecy, which is here given forth concerning Christ, may be observed to agree with some others. Thus the prophet Isaiah speaks of the Messiah as the Prince of Peace; of whose government and the peace thereof, there shall be no end: who sitteth upon the throne of David to order and establish it in righteousness, to execute justice and judgment in the earth (Isaiah 9:6, 7). Jeremiah has a like prophecy, where he says, that the Lord would raise up unto David, a righteous branch; a branch that should spring from him; a son of his; one of his seed and offspring; one that should be just and righteous in the administering of judgment; and afterwards he adds, a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute justice and judgment in the earth: in his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is the same whereby he shall be ca/led, The Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5, 6), or the righteous Lord. Zechariah speaks as clearly to this point as any; and says, for the comfort of Zion in her low estate, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, having salvation, lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass (Zechariah 9:9). Now our work will he to shew how these characters agree with Christ, and make it appear that there is that in him which answers to them, as

I. He is a Ruler.
II. A Ruler over men.
III. A just and righteous one.
IV. Ruling in the fear of God.

I. He is a Ruler. This, we find is a character which is given unto our Lord in Scripture prophecies; as in that famous and well known one, Micah 5:2. But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be a Ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting. And by ruler, is not meant an inferior magistrate: but the chief and principal one the supreme Ruler of the tribe of Judah. It is said of Judah that he prevailed above his brethren, and for this reason, of him came the chief Ruler (1 Chronicles 5:2). This is no other than the Messiah the King, that should rule in righteousness; and who is different from all other kings, and his kingdom different from all other kingdoms, as to its nature, quality and extent. His kingdom ruleth over all. As he is a divine person, the Creator of all things; the government of the whole world, of right, belongs to him. The kingdoms of nature and providence are his, and he is the Governor among the nations.

But this title of Ruler, King, or head, which is frequently given to our Lord, respects him in his mediatorial office and is that branch of it which may be properly styled, his kingly office: for let it be observed, that he was set up, as such from everlasting. From everlasting he was King and Head of his church and people. I was (says Wisdom) set up from everlasting ( Proverbs 8:23): that is, as Mediator, or with respect to his office-capacity, and particularly in this part and branch of it, his Kingly office: agreeable to what God says, I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion ( Psalm 2:6): that is, “I have anointed him,” as in the original text: and that, from everlasting. God has given him to be head over all things to the church (Ephesians 1:22): He has appointed him King.

These are our Lord’s words, I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me ( Luke 22:29). Agreeable to those purposes, counsels, and designs of God, that his Son, the second person in the glorious Trinity, should be King, should he Ruler over men, particularly over his church and people; He was promised and spoken of from the beginning of the world, throughout the whole Old Testament dispensation as such.— Thus he was spoken of by the prophet, A Sceptre shall arise out of Judah; that is, a sceptre bearer: a sceptre being a token of regal dignity. David in the Book of Psalms speaks of him as a king, again and again. We have a remarkable prophecy of him as king in the forty-fifth Psalm, where it is said his tongue was as the pen of a ready writer to speak of the things he had made touching the King: and by what follows, it plainly appears he means the King Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ; as, that he is fairer than the children of men: riding forth in his majesty and glory: and whose arrows are said to be sharp in the heart of his enemies.

Isaiah, and all the prophets after him, spake of Messiah, as a King; a Ruler of men. Especially does Isaiah, in that glorious vision he had of him, and when he had such an apprehension of himself, as a poor, vile, unclean creature; the reason of which was, because his eyes had seen the King, the Lord of hosts, of armies in heaven and earth: when he saw him upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple, and the seraphim covered their faces with their wings, and cried one unto another and said, holy holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory ( Isaiah 6:1, 2, 3). So, many other of the prophets spake of him as a King, especially Zechariah, in the place I have before referred to ( Zechariah 9:9). Daniel calls him, the Messiah, the Prince (Daniel 9:25); that is, the King Messiah. He came into the world as such, he was born such. The wise men inquired after him saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him (Matthew 2:2).

They might, perhaps, have no other notion of him, than as a temporal King; but he was more than that. Indeed he was not a temporal one at all; his kingdom was not of this world, but of another kind and nature. His kingdom came not with observation, so that it gave the Jews a disgust against him; because they expected a temporal prince, and no other. Indeed his spiritual kingdom did not appear very conspicuous at that time. Very few that were converted under the ministry of Christ, his forerunner, or the apostles: and few that entered into the kingdom of heaven, (the gospel-dispensation), that embraced the doctrines of the gospel, and submitted to the ordinances thereof, had a clear view of him as a King, in a spiritual sense. But after his sufferings and death, resurrection and ascension to heaven, he was declared to be both Lord and Christ. Then it appeared more plainly, that he was King and Ruler over men. God the father highly exalted him; then he placed him upon the same throne with himself; crowned him with glory and honour; set him at his right hand until he should make his enemies his footstool, or they should become subject to him in one way or another.

In consequence of his being thus exalted as King, He sent forth the rod of his strength out of Zion, the everlasting gospel, the power of God unto salvation: that word that comes out of Sion, and out of Jerusalem. He sent forth this, and sent forth his apostles to preach it: and as King of saints, and Head over all things to the church, gave them gifts in an extraordinary manner, by which they went and preached the Gospel every where; He going along with them, and diffusing the savor of his knowledge in every place to great advantage. He rode forth upon the white horse of the gospel, conquering and to conquer. These were the weapons of their warfare which were not carnal but spiritual, and mighty through God for the reducing of souls to the obedience of Christ; which they were enabled through divine grace to do everywhere; so that wherever they came, there were multitudes ready to say, the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King, he will save us.

 The hearts of men were opened by the powerful and efficacious grace of God. The everlasting doors were made to stand open at the voice of this King of Kings; and the King of Glory entered in, and took up his residence in their hearts; set up his throne there; dwelt by faith there, as a King in his palace. They became subject unto him, willing to serve him, and willing to be saved by him. This has been more or less the case in the Gentile world: and will be more manifest in the latter day, when Christ will take to himself his great power and reign; and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; when he will reign before his ancients in Jerusalem gloriously. Thus he appears to have a just title to this character of a Ruler. Let us consider further, more particularly,

II. His being a Ruler over men. Christ is indeed a Ruler over angels; and he has a right to rule them, as he is the Creator of them: for all things were made by him, whether visible or invisible. As he created them, he has a right to govern them: and he is, as Mediator, appointed to be head over principalities and powers, angels as well as men; all are subject unto him. Angels, and authorities, and powers being made subject unto him (1 Peter 3:22). The angels wait upon him to receive his orders; ready to obey his commands, whatsoever he enjoins them. They are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who are the heirs of salvation. But here he is said to be a Ruler over men. He is a Ruler over the greatest of men: yea, one of his titles is, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16), and upon his vestment and his thigh it is written. He is the Prince of the kings of the earth. All are subject to his dominion and government. By him kings reign and princes decree justice: and they are all accountable to him. He can, at his pleasure, set them up, and put them down; and they must all stand before him another day, to give an account of their administration of civil government. He is a Ruler over men, over the greatest of men. He is made higher, by his divine Father, than the kings of the earth.

He is a Ruler over the worst of men: over wicked men, who say, we will not have this man to reign over us: yet, whether they will or not, he is a Ruler over them. Though they refuse subjection to him, he will let them know he has power and authority over them, by punishing them for their rebellion. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me (Luke 19:27). Such who are unwilling to yield subjection to his government, he will rule them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces as a potter’s vessel. Whether they will or no, some way or other, they shall be subject unto him; for he has sworn in righteousness, the word is gone out of his mouth, that to him every knee should bow, and every tongue should confess to God ( Romans 14:11).

But in a particular sense, he is a Ruler over the best of men; over good men; over holy men; over the children and people of God, which are sometimes in Scripture, signified by Sion. The church is signified thereby in the Old, and in the New Testament. In the New Testament it is represented as the privilege of the people of God, that they are come to Mount Sion; which is explained of the general assembly and church of the first born, whose names are written in heaven ( Hebrews 12:23). Called by the name of Sion; because Sion was the object of divine love—because it was the object of his choice. He has chosen Sion for his habitation. An high, conspicuous, firm, and stable mountain: the holy hill; a representation of holy and good men. Now God has set his Son over this holy hill of Sion, or over his church and people, whom he has loved, chosen, redeemed, and sanctified. Good men are sometimes called Israel, as in Micah 5:2. Yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be Ruler in Israel. Not Israel in a literal sense for the greater part of them, the Jews, would not have him to reign over them; nor merely the spiritual part of them, the lost sheep of the house of Israel: but the whole Israel of God, Jews and Gentiles.

Every one of these will say as Nathaniel did, Rabbi, thou art the son of God, thou art the King of Israel (John 1:49). Of good men Christ is the Ruler. They are called saints, and hence his title runs, King of saints: just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints (Revelation 15:3). Saints, such who are sanctified and set apart by God the father, separated to holiness and happiness. Such whom Christ has sanctified by his blood, making atonement and expiation for their sins; wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate (Hebrews 13:12). Such to whom Christ is made sanctification as well as redemption and righteousness; and such who are sanctified by his Spirit and in his name, have a principle of grace and holiness wrought in them; in virtue of which, they live holy lives and conversations. Christ is King of them. And these are sometimes represented as a kingdom of priests, or made kings and priests unto God for what is said by the Assyrian in a boasting manner, Are not my princes altogether kings? (Isaiah 10:8).

Christ may say of his subjects, that they are princes, and these princes are altogether kings; and these are not only whom he rules over, but they reign with him. They shall reign with him on earth, and shall reign with him for ever and ever.

Now these persons whom Christ rules over, are not subject to him, naturally; no, they are rebels, as others. They disapprove of him as a king; reject his government; are unwilling to submit to his institutions and ordinances; and enemies in their minds by wicked works; yea, they possess enmity itself against God. Their language is like that of the carnal Jews, We will not have this man to reign over us ( Luke 19:14).

 They do not care to he subject to his ordinances and appointments; but say, “let its cast away these cords from us, and break these bands asunder.” In conversion, the Lord strikes his arrows into their hearts, whereby these enemies fall under him, and submit unto him. He cuts them to the heart by his Spirit, in the power of his grace, under the administration of the gospel: then they cry out, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? They are willing then, to do, and be any thing. They are made willing in the day of his power to be saved by him in his own way; to submit to his righteousness; to receive him as their King, and be subject to his ordinances. Then their language is, other Lords beside thee (Satan and the world), have had dominion over us, but by thee only will we make mention of thy name (Isaiah 26:13): that is, thou only shalt be our King, and we will serve and obey thee, and thee only. Thus their hearts being opened by his power and grace, he enters in, takes his throne, and sets up his grace as a governing principle, which reigns in them, through righteousness, to eternal life. He now, as a king, exercises his authority over them by enacting laws, which they yield ready obedience to; and by writing these laws upon their hearts, in which he acts a different part from all other rulers whatsoever.

When they make laws and publish them, they are written. fixed in different places, or printed in books, that persons may read them; but this Ruler of men, writes his laws in the hearts of his people. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts ( Jeremiah 31:33): and more than this, he puts his Spirit into them, in order to enable them to walk in his statues, and do them. He subdues the enemies of his people over whom he rules. This was the view the Israelites had in desiring a king, that. he might go in and out before them, and fight their battles for them. Christ is such a king. He fights the battles of his people. He subdues their enemies. He has finished transgression, and made an end of sin; has overcome the world; destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the Devil; has abolished death itself, the last enemy, and makes his people more than conquerors through him.

He, as a Ruler, protects them from all their enemies. In his days Israel shall be saved, and Judah shall dwell safely, for he employs all his power on their behalf. He is able to keep, and save them and none shall pluck them out of his hands.

As a Ruler and King, he provides for them every thing they want. It is very usual to denominate kings, shepherds, who feed their flocks. Christ is such an one, that stands and feeds in the strength of the Lord, and in the majesty of his God. He feeds his people like a shepherd, leads them into green pastures, and beside the still waters. He has all fulness in his hands for the supply of their wants; and therefore they want no good thing. As he is a Ruler of men, and exercises his authority in the manner he does, it is most happy for them. It is not only an instance of divine love and favour that Christ, as man and mediator, should be head over all things to the church, and have all fulness of grace in him for the supply of their wants; but it is an instance his love and affection to his church and people, to appoint such a Ruler over them, who is every way qualified for such an office, being so.12 wise, so good, so kind and tender, and so powerful. It is a remark of the queen of Sheba, concerning Solomon, that the Lord had a love to his people, and therefore appointed him to be king over them: so God the Father has a love to his church and people, and therefore appointed Christ to be the Ruler over them. It is an act of his free favor and good will towards them.

This rule and government is what is delegated to him, by his divine Father, of a spiritual nature; and, as we before said, is a government for which he is every way qualified.

III. This Ruler over men, is just or righteous: which respects not his essential righteousness as God, who is righteous in all his ways and works. Nor does it regard the course of his life as man: as such he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. Nor does it respect his being the author of righteousness, working out a righteousness for his people. Nor his mediatorial office at large, which he performed with so much integrity that he justly merited the character of God’s righteous servant; but it respects him as a King. His sceptre is a sceptre of righteousness. His ways are just and true as King of saints. Righteousness is the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness is the girdle of his reins, in all the administrations of his kingly office; thus he answers to his type, Melchisedec, whose name signifies the king of righteousness; as well as also king of Salem, which is king of peace.

IV. He also rules in the fear of God. As man, the grace of fear was in him; as mediator, the spirit of fear was upon him. Not only the spirit of wisdom, knowledge, and counsel, but of the fear of the Lord; which respects his administration of the kingly office. He always did what pleased the Father. What he did flowed from affection for him; so that he might be said, in the highest sense, to serve the Lord with reverence and with godly fear. But there is another sense in which these words may be taken. They may be rendered, ruling in the fear of God. Not only ruling such persons that have the fear of God upon their hearts, and before their eyes; but ruling, appointing and ordering the worship of God; having it at his command, and wholly under his direction.

The fear of God, sometimes signifies the whole worship of God, internal and external; because this, when rightly performed, is done in the fear of God: serve the Lord with fear and rejoice before him with trembling.13 (Psalm 2:11). Now our Lord Jesus Christ, as king of saints, has this fear, this worship of God, wholly at his command, altogether under his authority; and by his direction every gospel ordinance is administered. Thus in Matthew 28:18 he says, all power is given to me in heaven and in earth: all power and authority as Mediator. In consequence of which he appoints and commissions his disciples to preach the gospel; for it follows, therefore, (because I have all power given to me in heaven and earth) go ye, and teach all nations. Go and preach my gospel every where, baptizing them that are taught (for that is the meaning of it) in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

Christ, as king of the church, has power and authority over the fear and worship of God, under the gospel dispensation. Indeed the very law itself is in the hands of Christ, as King of saints and of the church; and there it is as a rule of walk and conversation to his people; so that they are not without law to God, but under the law to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21). Now there are various duties incumbent upon us with respect to Christ as a Ruler of men, of the church and people of God. We ought to own him as King of saints: to say of him, the Lord is our King, the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, and he will save us: my Lord and my God. And not only own and acknowledge him to be King, but to be subject to him; for to acknowledge this in words is not enough. “Not every one that says, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom, but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven:” (Matthew 7:21).

Which is the rather to be attended unto because his commands are not grevious: his yoke is easy, and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). You regard him as a priest, and expect the pardon of your sins through his blood. He is, indeed, an interceding High Priest (of good things for you at the throne of God): and should you not regard him as your King? What! think to receive all benefit from him as a priest, and not serve him as a King! Your receiving him as a Priest lays you under the highest obligations to serve him as a King. It is your duty also to rejoice in your King; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. They have reason so to do: he is so wise, so good, so just, so able to subdue their enemies, and provide all good things for them. O what matter of joy is this, that Sion’s King reigneth!

You should do all you can for the enlargement of his kingdom: pray for the prosperity of it, and its.14 coming in greater glory. Say, thy kingdom come: and, as he is pleased to say, behold I come quickly, you should reverberate, and say, even so, come, Lord Jesus.

As one Pastor wrote:

"The immediate context of the verse is a reference to the patriarch Jacob, who was not an ordained preacher, at least not as we would understand that concept today. Just what kind of hazard was Jacob in fear of as he wandered from one nation to another people? Did he live in mortal dread that someone, somewhere, would criticize him? No, his concern was that the heathen would use physical violence against him. Read his complaint in Genesis 34:30: "And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house."

It is clear that to touch the Lord's anointed is to commit an act of physical violence against the one anointed by God. It does not refer to those who verbally attack and criticize a preacher and his doctrine. Such verbal attacks may be quite wrong and sinful, and in some cases they may be commendable and necessary (see Jesus criticizing the Pharisees in Matthew 23, Paul criticizing Peter in Galatians 2:14-21, Paul versus the Judaizers in Galatians 5:12, Philippians 3:2, etc.) but they are not covered by the idea "Touch not the Lord's anointed."

For further confirmation of this, see I Samuel 24:6-7, where David had an opportunity to have King Saul killed, but refused to take advantage of it: "And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord. So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way." Immediately afterward, David publicly criticized Saul in front of 3000 of Saul's troops, as well as his own 600 men, saying "The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. As sayeth the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked, but mine hand shall not be upon thee." (1 Samuel 24:12-13.) No one seemed to feel that David was touching the Lord's anointed by this open rebuke of Saul. It is clear that to touch the Lord's anointed involved violence against his person, not criticism, rebuke or public disagreement.

Why, then, do we hear so much whining from preachers today who warn their followers, and their critics, not to touch the Lord's anointed? Just what do these preachers have to hide, and what are they so anxious to cover up? One would think that it is the unpardonable sin to criticize or find fault with any preacher in any way. Some of the big televangelists have even hinted that God will punish their detractors with death.

To rebuke a preacher who has committed errors of false doctrine or practice cannot be the sin of touching the Lord's anointed, because it does not involve the use or threat of physical violence. Such rebuke is appropriate and even commanded in certain instances. "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." (Galatians 2:11.) "Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith." (Titus 1:13.) "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear," (1 Timothy 5:19-20.) The office of elder here is the same as the scriptural office of bishop or pastor. Presumably it would also include televangelists and ecumenical evangelists, even though no such creatures are authorized in the New Testament, and they could not be higher in rank than the Apostle Peter, who Paul rebuked publicly before the congregation of Antioch.

Since we are instructed so many times that we must not touch the Lord's anointed, it might help to check out the New Testament and find out just who are the Lord's anointed today. In 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 we read; "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who also hath sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." The Apostle John tells us, "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.... But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." (1 John 2:20,27.)

There we have it - all Christians are the Lord's anointed. How could it be otherwise? In Old Testament times, only some believers were priests, but in this age of grace, we are all priests: "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ ... But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:5,9.)

In fact, the preacher from his place of prominence in the pulpit can do more harm, to more people, than the average man in the pew, if he is following unscriptural principles and practices, and therefore he is to be more carefully scrutinized and watched. Yes, the preacher is the Lord's anointed, if he is truly saved, but so are you, and so are we. We owe a tremendous amount of courtesy to all of God's true preachers, including an obligation not to oppose or criticize them in an improper and unscriptural manner. But they have the same obligation of courtesy to all Christian laymen, who are also the Lord's anointed.

Some pastors seem to have the idea that because they are ordained to the ministry, they are on a higher and more exalted level than their followers, but at the same time they are to be held to a lower level of standard of conduct. Because they are preachers, they say, it is inevitable that they will offend people, and they are not going to try to avoid giving offenses, because if they did, they would have to stop preaching.

This is the very opposite of the teaching of the Word of God, which insists that preachers are to be held to a higher standard of conduct than their people: "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12.) "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all." (James 3:1-2.)

The preacher or evangelist who thunders forth with the command "Touch not the Lord's anointed" intends thereby to silence and shut the mouths of all who might find fault with his doctrines or methods, no matter how unscriptural they may be, He is a man with much to hide, a man who cannot bear to have his deeds and his ways openly examined and compared with what the Word of God teaches.

Such a man is very self-centered, selfish, soulish, and in the final analysis childish. A small child must have everything his own way, and cannot bear to be challenged, contradicted or denied anything he demands. He feels that the world should revolve around him, and that all should cater to his wishes. The dictatorial preacher is no different; his followers must devote themselves entirely to his service, going around on tiptoes for fear of offending him in any way, while he feels free to offend all. Little or no time or effort is left with which to serve Christ, after the followers have served the ego and the cravings of their pastor. Ho is an insecure, immature man who lives in dread that somewhere there is someone who dares to differ with him on some minor issue. Christ has appointed believers to liberty, Galatians 5:1, but the dictatorial preacher robs his followers of all their liberty.

The moment anyone objects to such immature conduct, or to the fleecing of the tithe money of God's people, or the lapses in moral standards and doctrinal soundness, the preacher responds, "Touch not the Lord's anointed!" How silly - no one has threatened to slay them with a sword, as was done to Saul. It is time for such preachers to grow up. We would all object, and quite rightly, to any powerful layman who attempted to take control of a local church and to force all the other members to follow his will without question. For a layman to lord it over the church is wrong and out of the question. For the pastor to do so is equally wrong.

This is made quite clear by the words of Jesus in Matthew 20:25-27: "But Jesus called them unto him (the Apostles) and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." The same thought appears in the parallel pasages of Mark 10:42-44 and Luke 22:25-26. In 1 Peter 5:2-3 we read, "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof', not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."

and another Pastor writes...

One of the most common errors found in Christianity today is that particular persons, usually pastors or evangelists, are somehow more "anointed" than the average Christian. This teaching often coincides with a veiled threat in the form of "touch not mine [the Lord's] anointed," (I Ch. 16:22, Ps. 105:15).

The term "anointing" means to "authorize, or set apart, a person for a particular work or service," (Is.61:1). The New Testament is absolutely clear on whom the anointing rests - ALL of Christ's disciples, who are God's very own, set apart and commissioned for service (2 Cor. 1:21). The New Testament does not support the notion of a "greater" anointing based on "position" and such teaching has its origin in a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.

Proponents of this error fail to use careful exegesis to discern the difference between the Old Testament call of a "prophet," where the anointing rested on one man (Is. 61:1, I Sam. 26:9,11, 2 Sam. 22:51, 2 Chr. 6:42), and the New Testament call of a "priesthood of believers" (I Pet. 2:5,9). Certainly there are diversities of gifts, but the Spirit [or anointing] remains the same (I Cor. 12). Many have long terrorized God's people with "touch not mine anointed" nonsense if anyone dared question them or their teaching. Anyone who has a gift (all have gifts, 1 Cor. 12:7-11), has a ministry, and anyone who has a ministry, has authority and is anointed.

It is a sad situation in many churches today that "laity" are content to sit on a pew week after week and assume the opinions of professional clergymen are to be the final authority. They find comfort in this approach because it is safe. Preachers are content to keep it this way because it secures their position in the church.

How many times have believers been subjected to mishandled scripture with an implicit or explicit "touch not God's anointed" if any dared to question? This is in contrast to the Biblical admonition to "try the spirits", (1 John 4:1). Fear is not of God and teaching which incorporates psychological intimidation is corrupt and deceptive. One of the easiest ways to determine what "spirit" motivates a person "in authority" is to question them. A godly man or woman will never be offended or become indignant if someone dares to question them and compare what is said with the Word of God. However, if one is motivated by an "authoritarian" spirit of conceit or arrogance, the questioner will soon know it. Peter warned the elders (pastors and spiritual guides of the church) not to be domineering [arrogant, dictatorial, overbearing] over the flock of God, but to be patterns and models of Christian living (I Pet. 5:3.)

Many prominent pastors and evangelists today make the claim that because "souls" are being saved and "healings" take place in their meetings, that this somehow validates their ministry. While these things may be well and good, they are no indication of "divine" sanction. Ww've all seen thousands saved and miracles take place in their meetings. Because one is blessed with "prosperity" and has a "following" of thousands, doesn't mean a darn thing when it comes to integrity and godly sanction, for "he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust," (Matt. 5:45).

Twenty-six years ago I experienced the greatest miracle of my life - salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This experience came in a Pentecostal "holiness" church where, unbeknown to me at the time, the pastor was committing adultery, one of the deacons (or "pillars" of the church as they were called) visited a prostitute on a regular basis, another deacon kept a large supply of porno magazines in his home, and still another was a philanderer. This taught me that just because God moves in a particular setting, it is no indication that those who bear the message are "godly." Index of articles about clergy sexual abuse
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