Deuteronomy 17:14-20 – An Ode to Better Choices

Posted: February 20, 2017 in 05-Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 17:14-20 (Part 1 of 2)

Guidelines for a King


Choosing the right king was a concern of God in this passage. How relevant is that for us today? It is Presidents’ Day here in America. The candidates that we select are a reflection of the society that we are. Our President comes from our society so thus is a reflection of it. What we revere in a President is what we nominate for our major parties and from these two candidates, we select our President. We did not have much of choice this past election. I was not a fan of either candidate.


The Republican candidate was Donald Trump. Wow! Who would have ever thought that would happen. He is a man of whom I question his moral character. He finances his lavish lifestyle through bank debt and utilizing tax breaks and loopholes in the tax code. He is a man who I do not believe even understands the gravity of the position he holds. To him, I think the presidency is just another season of television show of which he is the central character. To him, I think the presidency is that final “feather in the cap” for a man who supposedly has conquered the business world. I think he is a man who is a lot of smoke and mirrors. A lot of noise signifying nothing. I do not think that any of his political promises made during the long election process are ironclad ideals in his mind. They are simply what he used to get himself elected. I fear for his presidency. We needed a moral man to have been nominated by the Republican Party and we got Donald Trump. The Republican rank and file voters became enamored with the sound and fury of Trump and the celebrity of Trump. He voiced everything that they have complained about for 20 years. He gave voice to their complaints. He was a like a big bully picking on the other nerdy candidates and yet came across with no alternatives to what the candidates were saying. Americans loved the bully act for some reason. No substance just style. Just how in the school yard, we joined in with the biggest bully making fun of a kid for no apparent reason. Trump was sound and fury but no substance. Just like us, we have had no solutions for the problems about which we complain, Trump proposed no solutions but just wanted us to be afraid of them. There are no overriding ideals that I can see in his presidency. I pray that he will eventually become a good President. However, it is my fear that he will end up bumbling so badly that it will guarantee a Democratic backlash landslide victory in 2020.


The Democratic candidate was Hillary Clinton. She was everything liberal. She believes in many things that are antithetical to Christian beliefs. Many Christians voted for Donald Trump not as endorsement of him and his vanity and lack of substance but rather as a condemnation of the candidacy of Clinton. I had a Facebook friend, a former high school classmate, lambast me for considering a third party candidate because such a thing would guarantee a victory for Clinton. Most assuredly, Clinton was no better a candidate than Trump. Her moral character is on the low-end. He political career over the years in support of her husband’s political career is pockmarked with moral compromises and doing whatever it takes to maintain power. He real estate deal and political wheelings and dealings are legendary. She was the power behind the seeming nature of her husband as Teflon Bill. She was the one working behind the scenes to make sure nothing stuck to Bill. Then, of course, her political views are so completely socialist that it was impossible for many rural and suburban conservative voters to support. Most rural and suburban voters for once in this election banded together to ensure that she did not have access to the most powerful office on the planet.


How did it come to this? We have ourselves to blame. We have become a nation of rural and suburban America pitted against urban America. Rural and suburban America believes in conservative values and still believe that taxes and government should be limited as much possible so that we can work hard and enjoy the fruits of our labors. Urban America believes in the socialist state where the government is the arbiter of morality and is the supporter of entitlements to which we all should just have rather than work for. We are a country that is at war with itself. We are country though that has made incredibly difficult to govern and to find people who are willing to govern. We are no longer a nation who seeks compromise and what is best for the country as a whole. There is no compromise in us. We want what we want and are not willing to sublimate our desires to the greater good of the country.


We have also become a country of people of declining moral fiber. Divorce is rampant in our country. Single parent homes dot our landscape. Missing fathers in homes is an epidemic. Sex outside marriage is glorified and encouraged. Greed is glorified. Getting what we can get when we can get it. We don’t think about our country anymore. We only care about what we want and how we can get it. So, why do we expect to have anything other than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to come out of this political landscape?


That was what I thought about this morning when I read through this passage today, Deuteronomy 17:14-20, for the first of two reads. Let’s read it together now:


14 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” 15 be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.


18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.


In this passage, God was not encouraging Israel to appoint a king to rule their nation. He was actually against the idea because He was king and the people were to obey and follow Him. However, He knew that they would one day want a king so that they could be like the neighboring nations. If they insisted on having a king, He wanted to make sure they chose the right person. That is why he included these instructions both for the people’s benefit as those chose their king but also for the king himself as He sought to lead the nation according to God’s laws.


However, Israel’s kings did not heed this warning and their behavior led to their downfall. Solomon had going for him but he did everything that God warned against right here in this passage. He built up a large army, married many wives, became wealthy and proud, and turned his heart away from God. Out of Solomon’s disobedience came Israel’s disobedience, division, and captivity.


My prayer is that our country will turn from its self-indulgence and deep divisions and its sense of immediate self-gratification and turn back toward the values of God. May we become a nation that thinks of God first, nation second, and ourselves third. May we become a nation that encourages the brightest and best to run for public office. May we see it as our duty as Christ followers to be part of the solutions to the problems of our nation rather than just complain about the lack of choices that we have. May we be the driving force behind having real choices in our candidates for public office and particularly the presidency. May our Presidents in the future be a reflection of a nation that has returned to God. May we as Christians provide that leadership and do the tough work of getting elected locally, regionally, state-wide, and nationally and may we be the ones that have real ideals about what we want to accomplish and that being of creating a nation that honors God.


I pray that in future elections for President that because of the work we have done as Christians that we have men and women of great character to choose from.


Amen and Amen.

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