Instructions for a King: Deuteronomy 17:17-18:9

Deuteronomy 17:17‑18:9  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Deuteronomy 17:17-18:917Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. 18And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. 1The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and his inheritance. 2Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the Lord is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them. 3And this shall be the priest's due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw. 4The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him. 5For the Lord thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons for ever. 6And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where he sojourned, and come with all the desire of his mind unto the place which the Lord shall choose; 7Then he shall minister in the name of the Lord his God, as all his brethren the Levites do, which stand there before the Lord. 8They shall have like portions to eat, beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony. 9When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. (Deuteronomy 17:17‑18:9)
When the children of Israel had a king, he was not to have many wives, for they would turn his heart away from the Lord. Of course in Christian lands a man cannot have more than one wife, but still there is a warning for us here, for many a young man has been turned away from following the Lord by the pretty face of some girl. The Lord knows our weaknesses and warns us in His Word, for an unsaved wife can have a tremendous influence over her husband, and that is why Christians are warned not to marry unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). We would save ourselves many a sorrow by obeying the voice of God in His Word.
Nor was the king to multiply silver and gold. This is another cause of departure from the Lord, for His Word says, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). How many have been turned aside from following the Lord through the riches of this world. Young people often think that if they had all the money they wanted, then they would be perfectly happy, but nothing brings about a young person’s ruin any quicker than plenty of money, unless there is a real purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord, instead of using the money for self and popularity.
It is instructive, though sad, to notice how Solomon the king sought all those forbidden things, and the result was just as God warned—departure from Him.
Instructions to Copy and Read God’s Law
The king was also to write a copy of God’s law with his own hand. Moreover he was to have it with him and read in it every day of his life. How needful that we too read and write verses from God’s holy Word, the Bible. In those days there was no such thing as a printing press, and it had to be written by hand, but today we can secure a Bible very easily. Do we value it as we should? Do we read it every day? The instructions to read it were not given just to teach the king the law in his mind, but that he might walk in obedience to it. It was also to keep him from pride. We are naturally proud, and our poor hearts seek a place above others. God wants us to be humble. Even if He has given us more ability than some others, His Word would teach us not to boast, but rather to thank Him, using the ability He has given us to help those in need.
Provision for the Levites
The Lord did not give the priests — the Levites — any inheritance of their own, for they were to live off the offerings of the Lord. This is a beautiful picture of how the Lord provides for those who serve Him now. We are not to seek an inheritance here, for our true inheritance is above. God does, however, provide for all our needs as we pass through this world, and gives us to find our truest joys in serving Him. Let us remember His faithful promise to supply all our needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:1919But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)), and step out in faith at His call.
There was an ever present danger of the people copying the nations around them. They, like us, could see the evil and questionable things practiced around them and would be in danger of doing the same. How many boys and girls and older ones too, are caught in this snare. They say, “I want to do what Jimmy does. I want to have a television set like all the others on the street.” Let us learn to first say, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:66And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9:6)).
Further Meditations
1. What was a king in Israel to do with God’s law?
2. How did Solomon get himself in trouble with his excess of money and luxury? Was it having a lot of money or his attitude toward it that caused the problems?
3. George Muller was a man who was wonderfully used of the Lord to spend money very wisely. His lessons in faith are an encouragement to read in The Autobiography of George Muller.