I have a question about the phrase "touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm" (Psalms 105:15), used by David when he had an opportunity to kill Saul. This is big deal here in Nigeria. Here, the president and governors of states enjoy political immunity no matter what atrocities they commit, and even if they loot the entire treasury! The constitution forbids them from being arrested or prosecuted until after they are out of office. This is obviously wrong. But did you know that the above phrase is being used in religious circles to justify "spiritual immunity" to protect leaders of churches, even when they are doing wrong? Thus the members are never allowed to correct or rebuke leaders. Such is presumed to be sinning against God, and even some disciples in my own congregation believe it (and some leaders believe it, too). In fact, some years ago I myself enjoyed such patronage, but lately I have come to see it as a misinterpretation of the Bible. I need your input on this subject, especially as to the story of David and Saul (1 Samuel 24:1-7).

Leaders (kings) were anointed in OT times, since God had a national covenant with Israel. Priests also were literally anointed, and often prophets were as well. In Psalm 105, the anointed are prophets -- this is what is called synonymous parallelism, a feature of Hebrew poetry. In Genesis, it appears most patriarchs were also prophets (Abraham, Joseph, et al). The specific reference is to the guiding protection God gave to Abraham and Isaac against Egyptian and Philistine leaders who might have killed them in order to take their wives. (See Genesis 12, 20, and 26.)

While it is true that the OT gives us an amazing example in the loyalty of David to his unrighteous king -- and this is the basis for the helpful volume A Tale of Three Kings -- nowhere in the NT does it say that church leaders are anointed. We may apply the lesson of loyalty as we keep our hearts pure, but no leader is above correction "from beneath," as 1 Timothy 5:19-21 makes clear.

So this passage has nothing at all to do with NT times. It applies neither to modern government leaders nor to church leaders! As some wise person put it, "The ground is level at the foot of the cross." We are all sinners, we all need input, there is no untouchable clergy.

Jesus Christ grants neither impunity nor immunity to anyone in his community!