Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Deuteronomy 17-20 Live like a king

From Deuteronomy 17-20

Q. If you were a king, how would you spend your days?

Dt 17.1-7 Law; Misc, Repeated laws concerning worship and idolatry
Dt 17.8-13 Law; Judges, Instructions to obey the levitical priests and their decisions
Dt 17.14-20 Law; Kings, future appointment and duties of kings
Dt 18.1-8 Law; Levites, Provisions for the Levites
Dt 18.9-14 Law; Sacrifice and worship, forbidden worship and mystical practices
Dt 18.15-22 Prophecy, The LORD will raise up a prophet. Telling which prophet to fear.
Dt 19.1-13 Law; Cities of refuge, instructions to setup cities and rules for man slayers and murderers.
Dt 19.14 Law; Property, Do not change property boundaries.
Dt 19.15-21 Law; Judges, Witnesses required to determine a judgement.
Dt 20.1-20 Law; War, Instructions for courage, for peace, for destruction, for plunder.

Passage and Comments
Moses gives instruction for future kings. Lets have a look.
14 “When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. (Dt 17.14-15)
Here the LORD allows them to select a king for themselves, assuming it is done so in a manner respecting the LORD. Note the issue with 1 Sam 8.5-6 was that they wanted to be ‘like all the nations’ and they did not recognise the LORD as king over them. That is, much later they blew it, but that's another story. The LORD will choose the king from among their brothers.
16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. (Dt 17.16-17)
The king must not be too power hungry.
The king must not lead them back to Egypt. Darwinian award here for kings who want to die.
The king must not acquire too many wives. The issue here is they may turn his heart away from the LORD.
The king must not become too rich. Solomon comes to mind with the last two. He had many foreign wives (1 Ki 11.1-4).
18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. (Dt 17.18-20)
Here’s the instruction we need to consider for ourselves. He shall read the 'book of the law’ (the scriptures of that time) all the days of his life. Look at the benefits of doing so.

Story of Israel
As I have commented, Israel requested a king in a poor manner. They suffered for it. Solomon took many foreign wives for himself. And he ended up abandoning the LORD. Eventually Judah and Israel followed in the same path. But the LORD preserved a faithful remnant.

Story of Jesus
Jesus read his bible, he knew the scriptures and quoted them often. In fact being the ‘Word of God’ he is intimately related to the scriptures. (Trick question, if Jesus is the word of God and scripture is the word of God. Does that mean Jesus is scripture?)

Getting back to our topic, Jesus judged those who rejected him saying,
38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (Jn 5:38–40)
They killed Jesus, but God raised him to life on the third day according to the predictions of scripture. This is something the king would have come across as he read the scriptures day by day. Pointers to the Christ who gives life.