Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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From a sermon by Preacher Clark at Grandma’s house, 1970
Taken from Gary’s Reel #9, CD #28a, Track 7
There may be, as Paul told the Corinthians, “gods many and lords many” in this world, but among them all, there is only one God whom wise men fear. Preacher Clark told the folk gathered in that old country home which God that was when he said, “The God you’d better fear is the one in God’s people.” And then he added this example of that kind of wisdom. He reminded the saints there that “David wasn’t afraid of Goliath, but he was afraid of the anointing of God.” Isn’t David’s example a wonderful example for us? Because he feared harming a man whom God had anointed, David would not touch the deranged King Saul, even though Saul was making every effort to murder him. This is a respect for God that all people need. It is clean and upright.
At the same time, this fearful respect for the anointing of God, once we embrace it, does not make us either superstitious or foolish. Let me explain.
In the Psalms, David declared, “I will not fear what man shall do to me!” At the same time, David most certainly feared what God could do to him. One time, when David had erred badly, he pleaded with God, “Chasten me not in your hot displeasure!” Paul, too, confessed that he knew “the terror of the Lord.” Paul knew, as David knew, that men had better take heed to the One who said, “Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” However, in the second chapter of Galatians, we learn that when the powerfully anointed apostle Peter was doing something that would have damaged the spirits of precious Gentile believers, Paul reproved Peter openly. No one but Paul, in that situation, had the wisdom to discern the evil that Peter was guilty of, and those Gentile believers in Antioch desperately needed Paul’s help, lest they be condemned to the status of second-class citizens in the kingdom of God.
Paul feared to harm any of God’s anointed servants, but he had no superstitious fear of opposing error in one of God’s anointed servants. It was in the fear of God that Paul rebuked Peter; and in doing so, Paul had not harmed one of God’s anointed at all. In fact, he had blessed that anointed man by helping Peter see what he had done wrong.
The lesson is clear. Doing as Paul did to Peter was as much a part of fearing God as was David’s refusal to assassinate mad King Saul when he had the opportunity. It was just a different manifestation of it. Sometimes, “doing God’s prophets no harm” may include refusing to allow them to harm themselves and others.