The question came up in Sunday School today about the Lord’s annointed and I was just wondering who that includes?
Ancient Israel anointed their priests and kings (an anointing is simply to have oil poured over the initiate to set him apart from the rest of the congregation and consecrate him for a sacred duty). In David’s day, the anointed king came to be spoken of as “the Lord’s anointed” (see 1 Samuel 16:6). David sets the example himself by reverencing King Saul and refusing to harm “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 26:9,11,16,23). You’ll note that as David is saying this, King Saul is trying to kill him. David has every reason to kill Saul – David has already been anointed by the same prophet who anointed Saul, he has the popular backing of the people, he even has self-preservation on his side – every possible reason except the one he adheres to most: “I would not stretch forth mine hand against mine Lord’s anointed”.
The Spirit moved upon the psalmists to sing the praises of King David in a prophetic manner. In a literal sense, Psalms speak of King David as “anointed” (Psalms 132:17), but Christians recognize this as a title for the Savior – Messiah. We see in the King qualities and events that mirror that of the chosen Servant who has been called from before the foundation of the world to redeem mankind.
The Psalms also mention the prophet as the Lord’s anointed (Psalms 105:14-15 – note that kings are listed as a separate class in verse 14, and the term is clarified in a parallelism). In keeping with this usage, the Doctrine and Covenants speaks of the prophet Joseph Smith with this same title (Doctrine and Covenants 121:16, Doctrine and Covenants 135:3).
In a more general sense, we can speak of anyone who has been specially called of the Lord to be His anointed. This would include both general and local authorities. In this light, David’s example of sustaining the Lord’s anointed sets a high standard for the saint who sees a chosen leader in an all-too-human light.
In an even more general sense, any saint who has received an anointing in the temple is an “anointed one” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:80) – that’s one of the literal meanings of “saint”, as in “one who is holy or set apart”.