Does “touch not mine anointed” refer to pastors?

Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.  –I Chronicles 16:22. (Psalm 105:15) 

A pastor who wants a free hand to come and go as he pleases chafes when told he is accountable to the membership or must report to a committee of members. The very idea!  He pulls out Psalm 105:15 and I Chronicles 16:22 and uses these as a battering ram on his people.

He bellows, “God’s Word says, ‘Touch not Mine anointed!’  It says, ‘Do My prophets no harm.’”

Then, he gives his twisted interpretation to his misconstrued favorite passage.

“This means no one in the church and no group is allowed to criticize the pastor.  God’s messengers answer only to God!”

The only problem with that is it just isn’t so.

No one is above criticism or accountability.  No one has a free hand to do with the people of God as he pleases.

Scriptures call the church by many names: “the Bride of Christ” (Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-9; 21:1-2), “the household of God, the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15), and “the Body of Christ” (I Corinthians 12:27 and Ephesians 4:12).  But nowhere is it the toy of the pastor, the playground or proving ground of preachers, the personal possession of ministers.

Here is what the Apostle Peter said to preachers:

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. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that fades not away.  (I Peter 5:2-4)

The pastor is not the lord of the congregation.  As the overseer, he is an example for God’s people, the role model.  The people are entrusted to the minister and he will give account for each of them before God (Hebrews 13:17).

Instead of announcing his sovereignty and proclaiming his independence, a faithful pastor will concentrate on showing God’s people how to love and serve, how to humble themselves and bless one another.

I worry about pastors who play the headship card.  He tells the church, “As God has made the husband the head of the home and of the wife, He made the pastor the head of the church.”

He is asking for trouble, bigtime.

It is true that the husband is the head of the home.  But Scripture teaches just as firmly that he is not to pull rank on his wife.  The husband is to serve his wife.  His role model–the ultimate Role Model!–is our Lord Himself.  “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” (see Ephesians 5:25ff).

No wife minds following a husband who is as devoted to her as Christ is to the church. Any wife will resent a husband who demands her service, loyalty, and love because “God made me the head of the home and I deserve it.”

That man is a bully who does not know God’s word.  In fact, he is abusing the love of the woman he should be protecting and blessing.

In the same way, the pastor who tries such a stunt on his people deserves all the grief he’s going to get.

Why will he get grief? Because he will have a few leaders–God grant!–who know their Scriptures enough to know the pastor is pulling a power play, and who will not let him get by with it.

I once heard a famous pastor of a mega-independent church say, “Someone accused me of being a dictator.  I told them, ‘I’m not only a dictator, I’m the only tater!”  To our shame, he was given a rousing chorus of amens from the roomful of preachers.

Some years later, that same preacher ended his ministry in shame.  Had he had a team of leaders along the way to hold him accountable and force him to answer for his foolishness, his ministry could have been saved and he could have ended well.

Do my prophets no harm. This statement, found only twice in Scripture, refers to prophets, not anyone else.  It is not found in the New Testament in any shape or form.  Furthermore, the New Testament makes it clear that all God’s people are anointed, not just pastors.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One…” (I John 2:20,27).  (See 2 Corinthians 1:21)

Is the pastor anointed? Yes, in the same way as every other child of God. Period.  End of discussion.

Does the Lord take it personally (and seriously) when His people do harm to one another?  He does indeed.


Let every pastor take note that church leaders who ask you to account for some questionable doctrine, suspicious expenditures, unprovoked outbursts, or wrong behavior are not out of line, not disobeying Scripture, and definitely not doing you harm. They may in fact be your best friends, keeping you from harming God’s people, bringing shame upon the Lord, and destroying your ministry.

In my the last church I served, I was surprised to see the bylaws contained provisions for a “pastor advisory committee.”  This group of half a dozen men and women, whose membership was constantly rotating just as the other church committees were, met with the pastor monthly or quarterly, I forget which.  Where did such a committee come from? I suspect I know.

For such a provision to be included in the constitution/bylaws almost always means a previous pastor abused his freedom.  And that is the case.  A previous pastor had changed the bylaws to allow him to preach eight revivals a year, in addition to his vacation time and conference/convention absences.  That’s far too many.  We amended it to a reasonable two revivals a year.  After that pastor left, the church insisted on there being an accountability group so no pastor would ever again run roughshod over the congregation to get his way.

That “pastor advisory committee” was a good experience for all of us. The members bent over backward to avoid appearing to supervise me.  At the same time, I freely informed them about what was going on and answered their questions. Some meetings lasted an hour, some were over in fifteen minutes.

The fact that the committee was there and in place was a good thing.  Had I gotten out of line–preaching some strange doctrine, ruling autocratically, doing something morally questionable–they would have sprung into action.

The church that does not have an accountability group in place, no matter what they call it, may be asking for trouble.

Most pastors are honorable and sincerely try to serve the Lord who died for them and called them into this work. However, not everyone calling himself a pastor is worthy. Not every pastor is honorable.  Not every pastor is humble and willing to be an example to the flock.

Since Scripture addresses this, the problem has clearly been with us from the beginning.

…be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.  Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  Do not neglect the gift that is in you…. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. (I Timothy 4:12ff.)

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