SOAP Journal – 23 May 2017 (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)

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 brothers 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 17:18-20

These verses round out a portion of Moses’ instruction about the future king of Israel. There are a few things said that bear note.

First, Moses states that the king must copy down The Law of God in the presence of the priests. There is good reason for this. The priests are the keepers of The Law, so the master copies would be with them. The priests are also responsible for studying and understanding The Law, so they would be able to answer the king’s questions as he was copying and he could make notes off in the margins.

Second, the king is to keep that copy of The Law with him and read it all the days of his life. This keeping and reading comes with purpose. In point of fact, the rest of the verses are the promise that comes from keeping God’s Law with him and reading it daily.

The effects of daily reading of The Law and keeping The Law ready to hand constantly is threefold: (1) that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, (2) that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, (3) that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left.

The Bible tells me that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Keeping The Law with him and daily reading it will cultivate wisdom in the king. And kings need wisdom to rule well. So [fearing] the LORD his God is a good place for the king to begin.

The second effect is humility. The verse says that constant contact with The Law and daily reading will yield the result that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers. The king needed to remember that he has been chosen by God from among God’s Chosen people to lead them. He was no better than his brothers and sisters. He was entrusted with an office.

The third effect is obedience. It is stated that the daily exposure to The Law may have the result that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left. In God’s view, the ruler must be ruled. In context, the king must submit to the authority of God and of The Law. By submitting himself to God, he becomes one to whom others can readily and willingly submit themselves.

While this may seem woefully disconnected from me, as a believer, it is not. Revelation includes a moment when those redeemed by Christ sing a song that includes the declaration that Christ has made the redeemed kings and priests (Revelation 5:10). Peter’s first letter calls the believers a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). In short, the instructions given to the king can be applied to me. And they are excellent practice, regardless of where I sit in the social hierarchy.

This morning, the focus is on having The Law ready to hand at all times and reading it daily. I have the daily reading part going on Monday through Friday, but I only read it the one time in the morning and I tend to skip Saturday and Sunday (unless I count reading during the church service). So I could do with more consistency in my reading.

But I need to watch for those three effects mentioned: fear of the LORD, humility, and submission to God.

Does God’s Word produce a holy fear in me or do I walk away thinking that I read something wonderful every morning? I am told to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). There is a fear that is holy and right and I must have it.

Does God’s Word humble me and remind me regularly that I am a sinner, just the same as every other sinner I see around me? If not, then I am reading my Bible wrong.

Do I submit myself to what I have read or do I nod agreement then go off and live in contradiction? Submission is active, on my part. While I can learn to fear God without any real action on my part and can be humbled without doing much, submission requires me to do something. Submission requires me to recognize my will and God’s will and to voluntarily pursue God’s will, even and perhaps especially when my will disagrees with it.

Fear of the LORD. Humility. Submission.

Father, thank You that these traits are not limited to kings and priests and people with a special calling on their life, but are the province of all believers. Please foster these in me. I know that I have room to grow in each and every one and that my life will only be better and more blessed by pursuing them.

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