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Bible Commentaries

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 17

 

 

Verses 1-20

As you"ve discovered by now the book of Deuteronomy is sort of a review of the law. The word itself indicates the second law. It is a review by Moses for the people. Really a final review because Moses will be dying in just a few days and Joshua will be taking over and leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land. So he is continuing his instructions, his final instructions to them.

And in the17th chapter, again, at the beginning he lets them know that what they give to God should never be castoffs. Never give a sacrifice that has blemishes. God really isn"t honored when we give to Him the castoffs, that which has no value to us. The Lord is really honored when we give to Him a sacrifice that really costs something.

When David wanted to buy the threshing floor of Ornan in order that he might offer to God a sacrifice there, because it was at that point that the angel was stayed and the plague that was upon Israel was stopped. Ornan says, "I"ll give it to you. And here you can have the cattle to offer as a sacrifice". And David said, "No, I"ll not give unto God that which costs me nothing"( 1 Chronicles 21:23-24 ). Now David was called a man after God"s own heart. And I think that God is honored when we do give to Him; we give that which costs us something, otherwise it really isn"t a gift.

Jesus watching the people putting their money into the treasury, when he saw the widow woman threw in her mite He said, "She"s given enough. That"s true giving"( Mark 12:43 ). The rest of them were all giving out of their abundance. She was giving out of her sustenance, out of her livelihood. And so, when we give unto God, not to cast off.

And so you"re not to sacrifice unto the LORD any bullock, or sheep, with blemishes or evilfavouredness: that"s an abomination unto the LORD ( Deuteronomy 17:1 ).

Then they were very strict within the law. God was seeking to preserve the nation. He knew that by allowing certain things within the land that it-they would have within them incumbent seeds of destruction. As you look at history, you"ll find that the majority of the nations that were once great were not really conquered by outside forces but deteriorated by the rotten politics within the nation itself. Nations, after a period of time, have a tendency to become corrupted. Nations are built upon certain pillars of righteousness, justice, equity; solid pillars upon which a nation is built, but when these pillars begin to rot, then the nation is in a dangerous condition and will soon fall.

One of the rotten plagues that God was seeking to guard against was that of idolatrous worship. And therefore the penalty that God ordered for anyone who would enter into idolatrous worship, the worship of other gods, the worshipping of gods in unprescribed ways, the penalty was to be that of stoning.

He"s wrought wickedness within Israel. And he"s served other gods, worshipped them, the sun, the moon, the host of heaven, which I have not commanded [God said] ( Deuteronomy 17:2-3 );

Now you"re to inquire diligently to see if the story is true and if two or three people will witness against that person of the truth of the charges, then he is to be stoned by the congregation of Israel. However, the death penalty was not to be evoked if there were only one witness against the person. Now, if the matters were brought to the judges and it was really too hard for them to determine just how to rule in the case, then they were to bring those matters before the priest.

And the Levites shall inquire of the Lord; and give the sentence of judgment ( Deuteronomy 17:9 ):

And again God speaks of the place that He will choose of the land, which will be the place where men will meet God and worship God.

Now in the fourteenth verse it is interesting, as God now anticipates a future deterioration of the land. You see, God intended that the nation Israel be a Theocracy, that it be a nation that was governed by God. They were to have the most unusual form of government of any nation of the world. Where other nations may have had monarchies or dictatorships or democracies or other forms of government, theirs was to be unique because they were to be a Theocracy: A nation that was ruled over by God, not as Iran is today. Khomeini sort of tries to give an aura of divine approval or, you know, God"s government, but surely what he has installed is far from God"s government.

But God knew that one day these people would insist upon a king. And therefore, even though at this point there was not to be any king ruling over them by God"s divine ideal, yet knowing that the day would come when they would no longer adhere to God"s ideal plan for them as a nation and would insist upon a king God.

Therefore, in the law gave certain rules when a king would rise to rule over them, then he gave rules for the kings here in the laws. Though it was to be four hundred years or so before they would have a king, yet God already anticipating the demand for a king is now giving the rules when a king does rise to rule over them. And so, to me it is interesting that God, in anticipation of their future demand for a king, throws in here even in the law, certain rules to govern a king when they ultimately have a king. And the very reason that they would give for having a king is anticipated by God, when you want to have a king like the other nations.

When the people came to Samuel they said, "Set up a king over us like the other nations". And they demanded that they have a king. And so God anticipating this demand to the people:

When it comes to pass, here in the land which the LORD gives you, you"re dwelling there, and you shall say, I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise, set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among your brothers shall thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over you, which is not your brother ( Deuteronomy 17:14-15 ).

Now, here are the rules for the king. First of all he"s not to multiply horses to himself or to go down to Egypt in order to trade for horses. The second was that he was not to multiply wives unto himself. And the reason for this was given: "lest his wives turn his heart away from God".

Now it is interesting when Solomon became king he failed on all three counts. First of all Solomon began to multiply horses unto himself and the stables of Solomon are still to be found throughout Israel. Not only did he multiply horses but he went down to Egypt in order to do horse trading, the second disobedience. And finally he multiplied wives unto himself. Now it is interesting that God said, "You"re not to multiply wives lest their hearts-lest they turn your heart away from me" and Solomon"s wives turned his heart away from the Lord and brought the failure to Solomon. So God anticipated the evil. He anticipated the results of the evil. He warned about it. And yet Solomon disregarded the warnings of God, did exactly what God said He should not do and exactly what God said would happen did happen.

In other words, God knows what He"s talking about. We so often feel that we know better, "Well, that doesn"t apply to me. Well, I can do it and get by with it. Oh, that will never change me. Wives can never change my attitude towards God and that may apply to some others but that really doesn"t apply to me". And we think that somehow we have some private exclusion from the rules or the laws that God establishes. Not so. God has set the rules. He has set the punishment or the things that would transpire if the rules are violated.

You think you can get by with it; you can"t. You can be sure that even as God has stated, so shall it be and you can be sure that God doesn"t warn you about anything needlessly. Whatever God warned you about is the thing that you"re in danger of violating or doing. So God was warning concerning the king Solomon, disregarded the warning and even as God declared, so did it take place in Solomon"s life.

Now the king actually was to make his own copy of the law and he was to read it daily. Now how marvelous that would be if you had a president who would have to write his own copy of the word of God. Because in writing it, you"re really into it all the time and then have to read it daily. When Moses turned the charge over to Joshua, he gave to him the law and he said, "Now thou shalt diligently consider the law. Thou shalt meditate in it and thus shalt thou make thy way prosperous and thus thou shalt have good success."

David spoke of his own delight in the law of the Lord which he meditated in day and night. He was a man after God"s own heart because of the respect that he gave to God"s word as a king. David was the kind of king that God wanted. God wanted a shepherd king. God always wants shepherds to rule. He wants all of the rulers to have the hearts of a shepherd, and David had the heart of a shepherd for God"s people: nurturing them, caring for them, loving them, concerned with their needs. And so the requirement that the king write his own copy of the scriptures and read it.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.

Bibliography Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 17:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/deuteronomy-17.html. 2014.

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