Friday, March 06, 2009

Selecting a King: Part 3 Dt 17:15-20

"You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way.' He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel." (Deuteronomy 17:15-20)
In this passage, the Lord lays out some principles regarding the qualifications and deportment of a ruler of the people. Here are a few:

Only a countrymen. It is critical, especially in the highest levels of government, that our rulers be fellow countrymen and not strangers or foreigners. It is important that our rulers share our same values, history, and national identity. A ruler is entrusted with not only governing but also protecting the unique character, qualities, and purposes upon which the country was founded. In the case of Israel, it was the "evil" kings that sought to lead Israel astray from its original intent and purpose while the "good" kings sought to return Israel back to its covenants with God. A ruler should preserve a nation, not try to remake it into their own image, purpose, of vision. Even the reformers of Israel, rather than "changing" Israel, sought to bring her back to her ancient roots. "Asa did good and right in the sight of the Lord his God, for he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherim, and commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment." (2 Chronicles 14:2-4)

Don't collect horses. This is a curious command from the Lord. What does God have against horses? In the scriptures, references to horses are used to connote three different thoughts. First is that of idolatry. "He did away with the horses which the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the official, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire." (2 Kings 23:11) Leaders and rulers should be careful not to abandon their acknowledgment of God and to make idols of the things of this creation. For example, there are many who have an almost idolatrous worship of the environment, even beyond what God would expect of us. Secondly, the amassing of horses is related to becoming susceptible to the influences of the world. "For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with influences from the east, and they are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they strike bargains with the children of foreigners. Their land has also been filled with silver and gold and there is no end to their treasures; their land has also been filled with horses and there is no end to their chariots. Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made." (Isaiah 2:6-8) A ruler or leader must be true to the founding principals and purposes of the nation and not give way, or sway, to the influences of the nations around us. What other nations think of us is not as important as what our founders would think of us. Thirdly, horses speak of the flesh as opposed to the spirit. "Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit; so the Lord will stretch out His hand, and he who helps will stumble and he who is helped will fall, and all of them will come to an end together." (Isaiah 31:3) A ruler and leader must never put their trust and hope in the flesh or in their own strength and might. Hour hope and confidence must be in the Lord. After all, "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong." (Ecclesiastes 9:11 NKJV)

Let your wives be few. Solomon never met a woman he didn't want to marry. He had one thousand wives and concubines. "He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites." (1 Kings 11:3-5) The problem with having a multitude of wives is that they divide our attention and can divert us from our duty and charge; especially for a leader or ruler. "But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided." (1 Corinthians 7:32-34) While multiple wives is not an issue for most countries today, the health of our rule's marriages can directly affect their ability to lead, rule, and govern.

More to come... David Robison

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