What God Said It Would Take To Be A Good King

This post is not about the presidential election. While I’d love a president who sought God in these ways, America is not Israel, and comparing that theocracy with this democracy would take a longer blog post (and probably greater acumen) than I have in me today.

This post is about leadership. Specifically, it’s about the expectations God gave through Moses the first time He broached the subject of appointing a king. He starts by saying that He will choose the person, and that the appointee will be one of them, not someone from the outside. He goes on to describe two external signs of internal qualities that a godly king would require. The first is:

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.

-Deuteronomy 17:16-17

The second is:

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.

-Deuteronomy 17:18-20

The first: He must not acquire many horses or wives or silver or gold. The second: He must copy and consider God’s Word. The reasons: “since the Lord has said…lest his heart turn away…that he may learn to fear the Lord…that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment…that he may continue long in his kingdom.”

Now, these aren’t the only things God tells kings to do in the Bible; in fact, He doesn’t even specify that they’re the most important. However, He does single them out early on, and they certainly are important for any king who wants to succeed, and success includes (starts and ends with!) honoring God.

These same aims can help any leader to succeed: Do what the Lord has said, keep your heart fixed on Him, fear the Lord, avoid arrogance, keep the commandments. In fact, these things are success; success starts and ends here. Like the kings, we too have an opportunity to foster these internal qualities by these external practices: Keep your possessions simple. Keep meditating on God’s Word.

To say that this passage “means” that parents, business owners, coaches, teachers, managers, etc. should lead this way would probably to say more than the passage says. Nonetheless, God’s wisdom shines from this commandment about kings, and we would do well to lead in light of it.

Leave a Reply