“Does ‘Touch Not the Lord’s Anointed’ Mean that Abusive Pastors Can’t be Challenged?”

I have read your article, “Abusive Churches: Leaving them Behind.” It is loaded with useful information, esp. for me as I have been in an abusive church. Before I left I had a series of meetings with the pastor in which I confronted him on a number of things I thought were not right in the church, only to be labelled a troublemaker. The pastor used to say to me that even if he did anything wrong, I was not the one to “judge” him because as the Lord’s annointed he was only accountable to God and not man or any authority.

He used to draw attention of the church to a scripture that says that Saul had backslidden and sought to take the life of David, but the latter could not do anything about him because he was the Lord’s anointed. (1 Sam. 24:1-15)

My question to you is: Was David right in saying that he could not touch Saul even if Saul was his enemy just because Saul was the Lord’s anointed? Can the Lord’s anointed threaten lives and no action be taken? Does anointing give one immunity from punishment for wrong-doing? How do you answer this question of David and Saul?

The context of that verse is that David’s soldier was looking to kill Saul since he was there in a very vulnerable situation. That is very different from confronting a leader with regard to sinful behavior. Nathan confronted and rebuked David on his sin with Bathsheba (1 Sam. 12). So did General Joab, who confronted David on his sinful conduct after the death of his son Absalom (2 Sam. 19:5-8). Many abusive leaders misuse that verse to say they are above criticism, but that is a misuse of that text to keep themselves accountable to no one.

Pat Zukeran
Probe Ministries