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

Deuteronomy 17:17‑18:9  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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 4:19), 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 9:6).
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.