Verse 15. Saying, touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. Abraham and his seed were in the midst of the world a generation of priests anointed to present sacrifice unto the most High God; since to them the oracles were committed, they were also the prophets of mankind; and they were kings too -- a royal priesthood; hence they had received a threefold anointing. Their holy office surrounded them with a sacredness which rendered it sacrilege to molest them. The Lord was pleased to impress the wild tribes of Canaan with a respectful awe of the pious strangers who had come to abide with them, so that they came not near them to do them ill. The words here mentioned may not have been actually spoken, but the impression of awe which fell upon the nations is thus poetically described. God will not have those touched who have been set apart unto himself He calls them his own, saying, "Mine anointed" he declares that he has "anointed" them to be prophets, priests, and kings unto himself, and yet again he claims them as his prophets -- "Do my prophets no harm." All through the many years in which the three great fathers dwelt in Canaan no man was able to injure them; they were not able to defend themselves by force of arms; but the eternal God was their refuge. Even so at this present time the remnant according to the election of grace cannot be destroyed, nay, nor so much as touched, without the divine consent. Against the church of Christ the gates of hell cannot prevail. In all this we see reasons for giving thanks unto the Lord, and proclaiming his name according to the exhortation of the first verse of the Psalm. Here ends the portion which was sung at the moving of the ark: its fitness to be used for such a purpose is very manifest, for the ark was the symbol both of the covenant and of that mystic dwelling of God with Israel which was at once her glory and her defence. None could touch the Lord's peculiar ones, for the Lord was among them, flaming forth in majesty between the cherubims.
The presence of God having remained with his chosen ones while they sojourned in Canaan, it did not desert them when they were called to go down into Egypt. They did not go there of their own choice, but under divine direction, and hence the Lord prepared their way and prospered them until he saw fit to conduct them again to the land of promise.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 15. -- Mine anointed. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had no external anointing. They were, however, called "anointed," because they were separated by God from the multitude of wicked men, and endowed with the Spirit and his gifts, of which the oil was an emblem. --Mollerus.
Verse 15. -- Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. We see here a vivid description of the people of God. They are "his anointed ones," "having the residue of his Spirit"; they are his prophets, to whom is intrusted the word of life, that they may be witnesses in the world. To these he gives as it were a safe passport through the world. Though they have ever been but men of number, accounted as a vile thing, they are precious in his sight. They are not distinguished by external dignity, numbers and power, as Rome sets forth the marks of her communion. They are in the midst of kingdoms, but not of them. They form usually the humblest portions of most communities, and yet they receive honour from God. Despised by the world, but unto God kings and priests, ordained and anointed to reign with Christ for ever. --W. Wilson.
Verse 15. -- Prophets. The aybk is the prophet, or forth speaker; the term laying stress on the utterance, and not upon the vision. The Hebrew word comes from a root which means to bubble up and overflow as from a full fountain. But the fulness of the true prophets of Jehovah was not that of their own thoughts and emotions. It was of the Divine Spirit within them. "The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," 2 Peter 1:21 . The first application of the word is to Abraham ( Genesis 2:7 ); although, long before Abraham, "Enoch the seventh from Adam, prophesied," Jude 14. --Donald Fraser, in "Synoptical Lectures on the Books of Holy Scripture." 1873.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 15. -- In what respect Abraham was a prophet, and how far believers are the same.