The Scriptorium

Toward Nationhood

And we are a holy nation, too. Deuteronomy 17, 18

A Holy Nation (1): Deuteronomy 17, 18 (7)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 132.13-18
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
“This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provision;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
I will also clothe her priests with salvation,
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
There I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
But upon Himself His crown shall flourish.”

Psalm 132.13-18
(Finlandia: Be Still, My Soul)
God dwells among us, and He will forever, to meet our needs and clothe us with His grace.
He has to us sent Jesus Christ, our Savior, and made us His eternal resting-place.
His foes are banished from His Presence ever, but we shall reign with Him before His face.

Review Deuteronomy 17 and 18; meditate on Deuteronomy 17.18-20 and 18.18-22.

1. Why would the king need to read from the Law of God daily?

2. How would that help to minimize the threat of false prophets?

In these chapters, Moses sharpens the focus of the people on what had always been God’s intention, that they should be His people, a holy people, even a holy nation. Nations require government; God’s Law provided for sound government at both the local and national level. Judges and officers were appointed town by town, and they sat in the gates of the city to ensure justice and righteousness.

At the national level, God allowed for a king to be chosen from among the people. He, too, was to be ruled by the Law of God, and to govern by it. The king and the local officials thus provided a balance for the nation, and a way to guard against false teachers, which would certainly at some point arise.

But God promised yet another office to serve the needs of the nation, that of the prophet. The prophets in the Old Testament studied and interpreted the Law of God for all the people (cf. Ezra 7.10). They also (though not all of them) received additional revelation from God, which looked back to God’s promises, works, and Law, ahead to the coming of God’s Kingdom and King, and around at the state of the people, to call them to repentance and faith all over again.

False prophets would always be a threat, but with sound rulers and faithful prophets, as well as diligent and able priests and Levites distributed throughout the nation, false prophets should not have posed a great problem.

Only after the great and final Prophet had come, however, would God’s people be able truly to begin to realize His great and glorious plan.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The king was to write the Law of God in his own hand, to have his own copy and to read from it each day, so that he would learn to fear God and be careful to observe all the words of the Law, and not fall into sin. We, too, have these same words to guide us daily into the fear of God and obedience to His Word. Solomon says to us, “Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?” (Prov. 22.20, 21). Then Luke says to us, “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account…that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Lk. 1.1-4). Paul sends this to us: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15.4). And we answer with the psalmist, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps. 119.11). Whether kings, rulers, priests, or the people, all are under the same mandate: “You shall be blameless before the LORD your God” (Deut. 18.13). Happily, we all have equal access to God’s Word.

As the old hymn asks, “What more can He say than to you He has said,/to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”

1. Why is the Law of God so important for rulers and citizens of God’s Kingdom?

2. What can we expect if we neglect to read, mediate on, and study God’s holy Word?

3. What can you do each day to increase in blamelessness before the Lord? For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

The king must carefully study the law of God, and make that his rule; and having a copy of the Scriptures of his own writing, must read therein all the days of his life. It is not enough to have Bibles, but we must use them, use them daily, as long as we live. Christ’s scholars never learn above their Bibles, but will have constant occasion for them, till they come to that world where knowledge and love will be made perfect., established upon better promises, there is a tendency to set up idols, under one form or another, in the human heart. Matthew Henry (1622-1714), Commentary on Deuteronomy 17.14-20

Help me to pursue holiness, Lord, as I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 132.1-12
Give thanks for Christ and His Kingdom, and for your salvation. Seek the Lord’s help in seeking His Kingdom and righteousness today.

Psalm 132.1-12
(Finlandia: Be Still, My Soul)
Remember, Lord, we pray, in David’s favor, the hardships he endured, the oath he swore,
the vow he made to Jacob’s mighty Savior: “I shall not enter through my palace door;
I shall not sleep, nor slumber my eyes favor, until I make a dwelling for the Lord!”

The word throughout the chosen nation spread, to Ephrata, and in the fields of Jaar:
“Now let us go,” the faithful people said, “and worship where our Savior’s dwellings are!
Around His footstool let our worship spread; come, gather to Him, all from near and far!”

Arise, O Lord, come to Your resting place; Your holy Presence meet with us in might.
Clothe us with righteousness in Jesus’ grace, and we will shout to Your divine delight!
For David’s sake, turn not away Your face, but look upon us in Your holy light.

Remember, Lord, the oath You swore to David; do not turn back, do not deny Your Word:
“One of your sons, with your throne I will favor, and He shall keep My cov’nant evermore,
and walk within My testimonies ever, thus He shall ever rule as Israel’s Lord.”

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by going to today’s column at the website. 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