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©Michael Player

Chapter 17:14-20 (ESV)

Posted on March 07, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 17:14-20 (ESV) -  “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,’ 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. 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.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

“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. 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, 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.

Question to consider: What are some examples of kings who did not heed the prophetic advice from Moses?

In appointing judges and ruling councils throughout the land, Moses recognized that the true king of Israel was God. Thus the judges were to be well-versed in the Law of God and have the wisdom to apply them in order to settle injustices among the people. In this manner, the ruling authorities would bring the justice of God to the people just as a father was to fulfill this role in his own household. The apostle Paul spoke of the marital relationship as a mystery of God which points to Christ and His church. Just as Christ was the authoritative head of the church so the husband and father was the authoritative head of the household and by extension, the rabbinical fathers the authoritative head of society.

Moses was speaking prophetically about the desire of the people to have a human king like those of the surrounding nations. I find the idea incredibly sad since a sinful, corruptible man given that kind of power and glory could only expect to fall short of his office. In order to limit this catastrophic decision, Moses declared that the people should let God be the one to choose their king, and that he should be a true Israelite. Of course the people ignored this advice and chose Saul because he was tall and handsome.

Given that a king would have ruling authority in the land, Moses advised that he should take specific measures to keep himself from becoming corrupt. Israel would receive the land because of the might and power of God, not in the strength of their armies. So Moses advised against acquiring horses. During his darkest days, King David sinned against God in taking a census. Knowing the number of people in the kingdom isn’t in itself a bad thing, but gathering information about the size of your army when it was God alone who gave them the victories was an act of sinful pride.

Moses also advised against making a treaty with Egypt since the LORD had said not to return there again. Of course, King Zedekiah did not heed this warning and tried to make a treaty with Egypt to go against Babylon. When Egypt didn’t follow through on their promises, Zedekiah was captured by Nebuchadnezzar and got to see his sons die before having his eyes gouged out and dying in prison.

Moses’ advice about accumulating many wives and much gold was ignored by Solomon who allowed his heart to become corrupted by his pagan wives as he let their altars into Jerusalem. After saying what the kings should not do, Moses advised them to make written copies of the Law and study them in order to reign in a godly manner. King David loved the Law of God, and despite his shortcomings was considered a man after God’s own heart. From him would come the King of kings and Lord of lords who currently reigns from the heavenly mountain in the New Jerusalem.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us King Jesus despite the corruption of all the other kings who came before Him. May we live as ambassadors of His kingdom here on earth and share with others the good news that their citizenship has already been won for them at the cross. Amen.