Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Monday, 02 July 2012


By Jim Jordal

 When you are come to the land which…God gives you…and shall say, I will set a king over me…you shall surely set him king over you, whom…God shall choose: one from among your brothers …you may not put a foreigner over you…Only he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt…. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart not turn away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.  It shall be, when he sits on the throne…that he shall write…a copy of this law.…and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear…God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them;  that his heart not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he not turn aside from the commandment…to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom…in the midst of Israel.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20, WEB

Too bad we don’t have Moses with us today in the flesh so he could introduce some integrity and forthrightness into the present political campaign. Well, we don’t have the person of Moses, but we do have his words on political integrity, preserved through the ages by religious historians and reserved for our use by God Himself. If only politicians would listen!

In this passage Moses presents several principles of righteous leadership that are just as valuable today as then, and possibly much more needed. In fact, wise leaders who recognized their value later wrote many of these principles into our Constitution and laws. There they remain, although often tainted by unwise Supreme Court decisions, acts of Congress, or administrative decrees.

Most obvious is the requirement that our president be native born. This is not a moral issue, but one of practicality. If Israel was to maintain a government responsive to the laws of God, they obviously could not allow people of different religions and cultures to rule their country. This rule still exists in our constitution today, as the uproar over President Obama’s birth place reminded us. There is some question today about how useful this restriction is, since with modern communication and education people of foreign extraction often know more about our affairs and culture than native Americans do..

Next is the requirement that the king (or president today) not multiply horses, wives, or gold and silver for himself and his pleasure. The reason given is that these perks would turn his heart away from following God---as King Solomon later proved. These accruements were symbols of power, having the effect of causing the ruler to depend more on human wisdom and resources than on the protection and blessing of God. Without this limitation on the ruler’s use of power to gain personal favors, kings and all other political leaders would naturally move toward the amassing of wealth and the development of absolutism to maintain their privileged positions. This would be contrary to what God wants for his people.

The king was also forbidden to cause the people to return to Egypt. The memory of Egyptian captivity and slavery was still fresh in the lore of the people and carried great significance because the societies surrounding Israel were mostly dictatorial monarchies. Israel was to be different: a people ruled by leaders steeped in God’s laws of justice, equity and righteousness. Returning to Egypt meant a return to conditions of oppression and injustice under taskmasters unconcerned with the people’s welfare. This prohibition is especially relevant today since we hear so much from some politicians about balancing the budget "on the backs of the poor" while they steadfastly refuse any increased taxes upon the rich. Should this philosophy prevail, it would constitute a "return to Egypt" of monstrous proportions.

The king was also commanded to study Mosaic Law daily, even to the point of transcribing it into his own copy. The purpose was, of course, so that the Law would become an integral part of his formation of values and decision-making process and would have direct effect on every action he undertook.

Obedience to these commands would create a nation dedicated to righteous principles of justice, equity, and opportunity for all to succeed on a level playing field. A side effect of these laws would be a resurgence of peace, prosperity, and the values that built our nation. We will again be great, but not by remaining on our present path.