By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 16-19
Key Scripture Verses: Deuteronomy 17:18-20 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not to consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”
As the Israelites prepared to enter the land of Canaan, God made it clear that there were right and wrong ways he wanted them to pursue with regard to how they conducted themselves, how they governed themselves, and how they were to worship, etc. These cited chapters of Deuteronomy have a lot to do with some of God’s decrees and Moses was teaching them what was expected. In our key verses, God is telling the Israelites that when they entered the land and they wanted to choose a king, as other countries did, they were to allow him to choose for them. The king was to be a man of God—someone whom God approved as righteous.
God made it clear that if the people were to have a king, the king would answer to him. If you remember, the people insisted on having human leaders rather than to let God direct them first-hand and so he allowed them to have kings and judges.
In these scriptures, God tells them that not only does he expect the king to be a faithful person, but he expects the king to read his word “all the days of his life.” He expected the king of Israel to know his word and to live by it—“to revere the Lord his God.”
It is important to note that although the king would hold a high position, he was expected to be humble before God and “not to consider himself better than his fellow Israelites.”
So, not only were the priests supposed to teach the Jews how to conduct themselves before God, but even their king would have to be held to the highest moral standards or he would not be acceptable to God. After all, this king would represent God to the Israelites, because God was really their true king. So, he wanted to choose the king and made it clear to them.
What a different world we would live in if all of the leaders in power over all of the nations read the Holy Bible on a daily basis and lived by it! What a world we would have if Christians would read their Bibles and really study them and know them, reading their Bibles daily!
The book of Hebrews tells us that the way to know God and the way to develop in faith is through the scriptures, by reading God’s word. These verses in Deuteronomy tell us that we would be humbled by reading and studying God’s word and would not believe in ourselves as powerful or better than our fellow man, if we were attentive to following God’s direction.
God wants us all to be faithful to him. We may or may not be leaders in our communities, but God wants us to know his word and to live by it. The scriptures point to this repeatedly. He wants to lead us all in this way, because it is his way and it is the way of truth and salvation. May we all remember that God wants to speak to us through the scriptures. When we want to know our direction and we want to know the future, he wants us to follow him and to trust him, to reveal to us his truths when and how we can handle it according to his will. We should want that too.