Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Selecting a King: Part 4 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)
Last week we enumerated some of the principles regarding the qualifications and deportment of a ruler of the people. Here are a few more:

Not for personal gain. Jesus tells us something very interesting about leadership. "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant." (Luke 22:25-26) Jesus clearly teaches that the role of a leader or ruler is not to enrich themselves. Far too often those who benefit from government and authority are those who wield it. The rulers benefit and the people suffer. Jesus came and taught a different approach to leadership and rulership. Those who govern should do so for the benefit of others, not themselves. They should not seek for their own enrichment, self aggrandizement, promotion, or other pecuniary interests, rather they should seek to serve those over whom they govern. Rulers and governors should remember the counsel given to king Rehoboam, "If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever." (1 Kings 12:7)

Foundational documents. Every king of Israel was to write for themselves a copy of the law given by God through Moses. These laws formed the fundamental documents that lead to the creation of the nation. They represented the founding principals, laws, and covenants the people made with each other and with God. When rulers forget and loose sight of the foundational principals of a nation, then the course of that nation is in jeopardy. Almost every nation has certain foundational documents that shaped that nation. For my country (the United States) these documents would include the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and the Constitution of the United States. As ruler succeeds ruler, each must remember that they are stewards of the principals, purpose, and hopes contained in these documents. The message of these documents must never be lost of forgotten.

Lowly in self-estimation. Rulership, governance, and authority do not belong to an elite class. Those who rule are not to view themselves as being better, or situated higher in class or rank, from those whom they rule over. Jesus warns leaders about the temptation of elitism. "Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant." (Matthew 23:10-11) It is a danger when a ruler or governor sees them self as above the people, as being better, smarter, or wiser then those they rule. God never intended there to be this class distinction between the leaders and the lead, the governors and the governed, the rulers and the ruled. God's intention was that people would be lead and governed by those from among them, a government of and by the people. Jesus reminded us, "you are all brothers." (Matthews 23:8) Those who govern must never forget that they are brothers with those they govern.

More to come... David Robison

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