The following is an excerpt of the new book Twisted Scripture, Twisted Theology by Brannon Howse. In this book Brannon untwists 42 of the most commonly twisted scriptures. Download your copy of this EBook now here:
The Scripture: Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.
The Twist: I have had Psalm 105:15 used against me many times when writing or speaking against pastors such as Joel Osteen or Rick Warren, who are false teachers. I’ve also seen it invoked when someone simply disagrees with his or her pastor and someone in the church tries to manipulate or intimidate the “dissident” into silence by using Psalm 105:15 out of context.
The problem is this: We are called to expose false teaching and false teachers. Romans 16:17 commands, “Mark those who are contrary to doctrine and avoid them.” To mark them you have to identify them, and to avoid them you have to know whom you’re avoiding. However, in today’s politically correct world, we are often told we are not to judge. As we will see in another chapter, even this is completely unbiblical.
Many self-professing Christians will tell you that you are not to speak out against false teachers because they believe these false teachers are anointed of God. That, of course, is their first problem, isn’t it? These people believe that a false teacher is proclaiming truth, is anointed of God, and that God approves of his message. But God does not approve of false teachers. He makes it clear in His Word what He thinks about false teachers. In Matthew 7, Jesus says that many of these false teachers, on the Day of Judgment, are going to say to Him, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name and cast out demons in Your name?” And He is going to answer, “Depart from me, you worker of lawlessness, you worker of iniquity. I never knew you.” With that, the Lord God will cast them into the darkness where there is the gnashing of teeth.
False teachers convince people to believe spiritual lies. As a result, their followers will defend the false teachers and say things such as “How dare you speak out against someone like Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or Kenneth Copeland! Scripture says that we are to ‘Touch not God’s anointed ones.’” They are using Psalm 105:15 completely out of context in order to defend their favored teachers.
So what is the meaning of Psalm 105:15? Again, we’ll check out the context. Let’s look at verse 9: the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance,” when they were few in number, indeed very few, and strangers in it.
And verse 13: When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people, He permitted no one to do them wrong; yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm.”
The context in Psalm 105 is the kings of Israel, as well as the Old Testament prophets. Scripture is speaking here about the covenant made with Abraham and then passed on to Isaac and to Jacob. The nation of Israel is the subject. In particular, these verses refer to the kings who were anointed and to the Old Testament prophets like Abraham.
So what does this tell us about verse 15? “Saying, ‘Do not touch My anointed ones’”—that would be the kings of Israel—“‘and do My prophets no harm.” This is not talking about some teacher today. It is an instruction specifically to not bring harm or do harm to the Old Testament prophets or to the kings of Israel.
We also need to remember the significance of anointing then and now. Who is anointed today? The answer is: all believers. All who have repented of their sins and placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ are anointed ones.
One reason we know that this is referring to the kings of Israel is that David himself uses this same warning about touching God’s anointed. Take a look at 1 Samuel 24:3-7: “So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs.” We see there that David is warning about not touching Saul, the king of Israel at the time, whom David said was God’s anointed.
The situation is that Saul went into the cave to relieve himself. What he didn’t know was that “David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.” So Saul walks into a cave in which David and his men were hiding, and this prompts an interchange between David and his men: Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe. And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” So David restrained his servants with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. And Saul got up from the cave and went on his way.
David’s men wanted David to kill King Saul. But David said, “No, I cannot touch God’s anointed. He is an anointed king by God of Israel.” This scripture recounts one of two times David says this about Saul. In 1 Samuel 26:7-12, here’s what happens: So David and Abishai came to the people by night; and there Saul lay sleeping within the camp, with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. And Abner and the people lay all around him. Then Abishai said to David, “God has delivered your enemy into your hand this day. Now therefore, please, let me strike him at once with the spear, right to the earth; and I will not have to strike him a second time!”
But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” David said furthermore, “As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. But please, take now the spear and the jug of water that are by his head, and let us go.” So David took the spear and the jug of water by Saul’s head, and they got away; and no man saw or knew it or awoke. For they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen on them.
Twice when David has the chance to kill Saul, the king of Israel, he refuses to harm “God’s anointed.” But when people quote Psalm 105:15, they usually mean something like, “Hey, you can’t speak against this Christian author or writer or pastor that way.” Many times they’re defending false teachers, and you need to explain that these teachers are not God’s anointed. All true Christians are God’s anointed, but if someone is a false teacher, that person is certainly not anointed because a false teacher by definition is not a Christian. Another question we need to address is: do we have prophets today? No, we do not. I’ve explained before that the office of prophet is closed, as is the office of apostle. We no longer have prophets and apostles in this Church age. We don’t need them because the foundational doctrines of the Church have been laid down. We have the Word of God, and, as a result, the prophetic and apostolic offices are no longer necessary. This means Psalm 105:15 does not apply to someone you might speak out against today so as to expose their unbiblical teaching.
Finally, one added point is helpful about the warning to “Touch not God’s anointed.” As you can see from the two David incidents, “touch” is actually referring to doing them harm—striking, hitting, or killing the anointed one. In the way the scripture is misused, people are talking about speaking out against false teachers. No one is concerned about physically hurting someone. Psalm 105:15 would not have prevented someone in Israel from pointing out the error or ungodly behavior of a king of Israel. In fact, that is exactly what the prophet Nathan did when he called out King David, the king of Israel, because of his affair with Bathsheba.
The bottom line? Don’t let someone intimidate you by twisting Psalm 105:15 to keep you from speaking biblical truth or pointing out the error of a pastor or religious leader. Doing so is part of your anointing.