Touch Not My Anointed (1 Chronicles 16:22) What does it really mean?

1 Chronicles 16:22

“Do not touch My anointed ones,
And do My prophets no harm.”

1 Chronicles 16:22 is often used to suggest that we should not speak against those teachers who appear to be anointed even if their teachings may be contradictory to sound doctrine. Those who use this verse in such a way say that it is a warning not to speak against God’s anointed prophets. Some even suggest that in light of this warning if we do speak against God’s prophets then we will bring God’s wrath on us and our house because they are under God’s protection. Those who follow this interpretation will hold that if these “prophets” and “anointed ones” are in error then they are God’s problem, and God will deal with them, and those who call out their false teachings are treading on dangerous water by speaking against them.

This is a very twisted interpretation of 1 Chronicles 16:22. This twisted interpretation is mostly used charismatic, Pentecostal, prosperity gospel and word of faith Christians when the false teachings of their false teachers are called into question. It is usually their last “line of defense” when they realize they don’t have a leg of sound doctrine to stand on in defending the teachings they believe to be true. They will throw this verse out there, warn us about the dangers of speaking against God’s prophets and then back out with, “I’m not going to debate Scripture with you.” It’s a classic move.

Have you ever wondered how to respond to people like this? Understanding 1 Chronicles 16:22 in it’s proper context is a start. If the individual is open to listening to reason you may be able to show them that “touch not my anointed ones and do my prophets no harm” has absolutely nothing to do with rebuking someone who has erred in their teaching.

The “anointed ones” and “prophets” in this verse actually applies to the nation of Israel in its proper context. This is not a command, nor is it a prophetic promise for protection from harm. We know from Hebrews 11 (and many other passages) that some of God’s anointed ones and prophets suffered horrible deaths and physical suffering at the hands of others. There was no command given for them not to be touched, harmed or spoken against. Nor was there any promise from God that they would not suffer both physical and verbal abuse. And these were true prophets, not false ones. In fact, the prophets and anointed ones of God were often sent by God into situations where they were commanded by God to endure physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Therefore, this cannot be interpreted as a general all encompassing command or promise of protection. That would contradict many other passages of Scripture. However, there were certain times throughout Israel’s history where God’s people were promised protection from harm in certain situations or when given a specific task to accomplish. That is most likely what this verse refers to.

1 Chronicles 16:22 is part of a song (psalm) of thanksgiving and is better understood in light of that. David had just bright the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem and as Levites danced their way through postal into Jerusalem with the ark they sang this song of victory and thanksgiving starting in verse 8 and ending in verse 36. Verse 22 is just one line in this very long song. Given its context being part of a song of victory and praise, and the reality that God does sometimes allow harm to come on His anointed ones, this line is most likely included in the song as a praise to the times when God did not allow harm to come on His anointed ones and prophets (I.e. Israel). Since there were select times in their history when He promised no harm would come to them or their prophets when assigned a specific task (such as retrieving the ark). This verse has absolutely nothing to do with rebuking someone who is in error and everything to do with praising God for the times He did protect them from harm.

Unfortunately, most people who use 1 Chronicles 16:22 as scapegoating to avoid accountability are most likely a false prophet themselves or already hold a strong allegiance to the teachings of false prophets. I say that due to their twisted interpretation and use of this Scripture. That is what false prophets do. Mishandle the word of God with false interpretations and applications to appease itching ears for the sake of personal gain.  And 1 Chronicles 16:22 is one of their favorites.

If you encounter someone who has already been indoctrinated with this twisted interpretation of 1 Chronicles 16:22 they will most likely not be willing to listen to the sound contextual interpretation. In which case be prepared to let them slide out of the conversation with their, “I will not debate Scripture with you,” line. Which is always full of irony because at this point they have usually spent a considerable amount of time debating with you. But remember the words of Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

Copyright © Lawrence Joseph Sterling 2016. All rights reserved.