Playing checkers as a child, the phrase “king me!” had a certain ring to it. Other than the obvious potential for winning, there was a certain satisfaction in getting to that point in the game, some little pleasure in that one-up move.
There’s a certain satisfaction that can creep in when you take on a leadership role. The opportunity for shaping things can be so alluring. You can almost picture hands rubbing together at the thought of changing things to one’s liking. “If I were in charge….”
That doesn’t seem to be the spirit that God was imparting to the Israelites when He gave them instructions for when they would desire a king. Check out Deuteronomy 17:14-20. “Appoint a king that the Lord chooses.” Hmmm…the king was God‘s choice!
“He should be one of you, an Israelite.” That makes sense. God called Israel into existence as His very own cherished possession. Why would He entrust His treasure to someone who did not know His ways?
The second instruction is to the king. He should not accumulate three things: many horses! Do not go back to Egypt for them either! Not many wives either, lest they turn his heart away from the Lord. Don’t accumulate large amounts of gold or silver for himself. Interesting that God addresses three primary temptations for leaders: power, sex, and money.
The third instruction fascinated me. The king was to make his own copy of the Scriptures, taken from the scrolls of the Levitical priests and read it “all the days of his life.” Can you imagine that your first assignment as a new leader is writing out your own copy of the Bible? It’s not a bad idea. Then, read it every day of your life!
The reasons are compelling-that he would learn to fear the Lord and follow Him wholeheartedly and that his heart will not be elevated above his brothers in turning from the Law. In a sense, his kingship was a role, not his identity. Being a king wasn’t about what the role could profit him; it was about leading and stewarding a nation. Being a king was not about being better than his brothers and choosing to disregard the Lord. His audience would be the Lord. His accountability would be with the Lord.
The consequence of fulfilling these actions would be that the king and his descendants would reign over Israel for a long time. Sadly, when you read the stories of the kings of Israel and Judah, you can see the differences between those who truly followed the Lord and those whose hearts were elevated and departed from the Law. I have to wonder if they had written out their own copy of the Law and read it every day. I wonder what difference that would make in their choices.
The passage has me thinking. To what degree does the Word of God shape my thinking? my values? my decisions? my time? my relationships?
What difference does reading the Word make in your life daily? What effect does it have on the choices that you make as a person, as a leader?