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  • Writer's pictureDwight Smith

Kingship

In Deuteronomy we read that Israel will want a king, just the like the nations around them. While I don’t believe that the Old Testament holds many likenesses to leadership as described in the New Testament, I am intrigued with the regimens God places upon Jewish kings. If they were to have a king, he was to be different to those other kings in nations around them. 


gold crowns

“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall 


(1) write for himself in a book a copy of this law,

(2) approved by the Levitical priests. And 

(3) it shall be with him, and (4)he shall read in it all the days of his life, 

that he may 

(1) learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes,

(2) and doing them, 

(3) that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and 

(4) that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, 

(5) so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.” Duet 17:18-20


In order to engrain in the minds of all of the people, the image of the God who had chosen Israel into being, the king was to physically write the law as a first order of business. And, what he wrote had to be approved by those who represented God, the priests. Once written, that book was to be with him. I take that to mean, that it was with him continually. For he was to read it daily, all the days of his life. His thoughts, actions and decisions were to be informed and judged by it. In a limited way, God Himself, in His revelation, in and through the king, would lead His people, Israel. 


The impact of this process upon the one chosen to be king was important. The king would remember that he was simply one of his brothers who was tasked with fearing the Lord, keeping His commandments and doing them. We might say, he was to be an example of obedience, dependence upon God and remembrance that God’s word was to be above all else. His daily encounter with God through His word, would help him not to turn aside from God’s commandments that were for all Israel. 


Such a king could expect that his children would follow his pattern of diligence, obedience and life. History shows us that while the line of royalty was largely maintained, the nature of God’s expectations were not. 


Again, while I don’t see “kingly” principles in the Old Testament, transferable to leadership in the New Testament, there are some interesting considerations to be taken from this passage. 


  1. God’s word is the only reliable foundation to any church leadership. They cannot spend too much time in it. 

  2. Obedience to God’s word ought to be seen and “caught” by the people of the church. The life of leadership is the most important refraction of what they say they believe. 

  3. While church leadership does not pass on like royal position, it still has an impact upon following generations of church leadership. 

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