The Scriptorium

Regulations Concerning Kings (1)

God promised kings. But with conditions. Deuteronomy 17.14-17

A Holy Nation (1): Deuteronomy 17, 18 (2)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 2.7-10
“I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.

Psalm 2.7-10

(Agincourt Hymn: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!)
Proclaim the message far and wide, that God has exalted the Crucified!
From heav’n He sent us His only Son, Who has for us salvation won!

To Christ the Lord be given all who humbly embrace Him and on Him call.
Be wise, be warned: His judgment comes to break the prideful, sinful ones.

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 17.14-17


1. What criteria were to guide the selection of a king?

2. What must the king not do?

God understood that the people would one day seek to have a king rule over them, like the surrounding nations. He was not opposed to this in principle; however, He instructed the people concerning who should be their king and how the king should rule.

God would choose their king for them. God had promised Abraham that kings would descend from him (Gen. 17.6). In Genesis 49.8-11, Jacob prophesied a royal dynasty would come from the tribe of Judah, and that dynasty would only end when “Shiloh” comes. “Shiloh” is a Hebrew contraction which means, loosely, “Him Whose it is”, that is, Him for Whom the Kingdom was ultimately intended. All kings descending from the tribe of Judah until the coming of the final King would serve two purposes: They would keep the nation ordered for holiness; and they would point to the coming King for Whom the Kingdom of God’s holy people is ultimately intended.

Sadly, most of the kings of Israel did neither of these very well.

God insisted that only a Hebrew should reign over His people. He must not be a man of mere self-interest, multiplying horses, wives, and wealth for himself (v. 16).  Nor must he lead the people to pursue or accumulate such things (v. 16). Such interests and pursuits would turn the king’s heart away from his true calling, which was to rule the people of Israel for holiness. And that self-interest would turn the heart of the people away from their true calling, to be a holy people unto the Lord.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“…for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again’” (v. 16). Here God is telling them not to go back to Egypt to buy horses; but there is a bigger “don’t go back” for them, and for us. Once we have turned to Christ, we are warned not to turn back to our old ways, but “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…” (Heb. 12.1, 2). Because if we risk breaking these regulations and recommendations, we face a terrible consequence. “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Pet. 2.20). God wants what is best for us, and He is always turning us toward Him and onto a better path. He doesn’t want us to go backward, but forward in Him. When Thomas asked Jesus how he could know the way to eternal life, He said to him “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14.6). Knowing that, why would we ever go back to Egypt for anything?

1. What would “going back to Egypt” look like for you? How can you resist that temptation?

2. Our King is Jesus. What does it mean for you to submit to His rule in your life?

3. How does Jesus work to order His Kingdom for holiness?      

the power of kings is here put beneath that of God; and kings themselves are consecrated unto obedience to Him, lest the people should ever turn to ungodliness, whatever change of government might take place. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 17.14

Give me a generous heart, O Lord, so that I always…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 2.1-6, 11, 12
Pray for the world, that it will come to its senses and turn to King Jesus for forgiveness, salvation, life, and hope.

Psalm 2.1-6, 11, 12
(Agincourt Hymn: O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!)
Why do the nations vainly rage, conspiring together from age to age?
Earth’s kings and all of their counselors stand against the Lord and His Right Hand:

“Now let us cast His yoke below, His Kingdom authority overthrow!
Throw off His Law, reject His Word; no more be governed by this Lord!”

The Lord in heaven laughs in wrath at all who embark on this cursèd path.
His angry Word to them is plain:“Yet shall My King in Zion reign!”

Rejoice with fear in Jesus’ grace, and worship before His exalted face!
Beware His anger and judgment grim: How blessed are all who rest in Him!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore