Today’s Bible reading includes Deuteronomy 17, a portion of Moses’ farewell speech to Israel. In this chapter, Moses is encouraging the people to think about future kings who might come to reign over the nation.
“When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.” (Deut 17:14-17)
Notice the pitfalls that the future king (and all of us) must carefully avoid, “lest his heart turn away.”
- Pride: “many horses for himself”
- Sex: “many wives for himself”
- Possessions: “excessive silver and gold for himself”
You may not be a king over ancient Israel, but the same pitfalls exist, even today. The same temptations can and do entice hearts into turning away from God.
The divinely-prescribed safeguard against such a turning is worth noting.
“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.” (Deut 17:18-20)
The most effective safeguard against your heart turning away from God is getting God’s word into your heart. The king was expected to write for himself a copy of God’s law, keep it with him, and read it all the days of his life. To what practical effect?
- That he may learn to fear the LORD his God
- Keeping all the words of the law and statutes
- That his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers
- That he may not turn aside from the commandment
I appreciated how my friend Wilson Adams encapsulated the idea on Facebook this morning:
The goal isn’t to get through the Bible.
The goal is to get the Bible through me.
Let’s work on that today.