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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Deuteronomy 17

Verses 1-20

    1. (17:1) To offer less than the best to God was to despise His name (read Mal.1:6-8).
      1. Offering a less-than-perfect sacrifice was failing to acknowledge God as the ultimate Provider of all that is best in life.
      2. Also it was a failure to acknowledge the vast gulf that exists between the perfectly holy God and sinful people.
    2. (2-7) Moses gives an example of a case requiring judgement. eg. Idolatry (3).
      1. (4) Inquire diligently into the wrongdoing. If its a capitol offense, they must listen to corroborating testimony from at least 2 witnesses (6).
      2. One of whom must also serve as executioner (7). [where Jn.8:7 came from]
    3. (20) Absolute justice was essential to the survival of the nation: Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (ESV)
    4. Supreme Court (17:8-13)
    5. (10) The findings of this court were to be final.
      1. Refusal to accept its verdicts would be punishable by death (v. 12).
  1. ALL THE KINGS HORSES (17:14-20)
    1. After Moses & Joshua died, the people were to be governed by judges and priests.
      1. This system did not provide Israel with a strong central government.
      2. It could only work if the leaders (the judges & priests) and the people were committed to following the Lord.
      3. The Book of Judges records the sad failure of the people and the leaders in this system.
      4. Why did God allowed the priests and judges to fail? Or why did not God institute the monarchy immediately? Maybe He was preparing the nation to appreciate the gift of the monarchy?
      5. Moses anticipated that failure by including this law in reference to the future king.
        1. See 1 Sam.8:4,5 [Samuels boys not walking w/Lord, give us a king]
        2. The institution of kingship had been anticipated as early as the patriarchs (Gen.17:16; 35:11; 49:10)
    2. 4 ways to curb abuses of Royal power:
      1. The King was to be chosen by God (15a)
        1. This was done through prophets, speaking on God’s behalf, who would declare His choice (e.g. Samuel’s support for Saul, 1 Sam.9-12, and then for David, 1 Sam.16. Nathan’s support of Solomon, 1 Kings 1).
        2. Therefore if a king failed, the reason for his failure would not lie in his lack of ability but in his moral life.
      2. The King was to be a Fellow Israelite (15b)
        1. An Israelite raised from childhood in the traditions and Scripture of Israel would be a far better choice than a foreigner to protect the purity of Israel’s religion.
      3. The King was not to seek great personal wealth (16,17)
        1. Horses - On human terms the king’s army, composed mainly of infantry, would be significantly weaker than an enemy’s army with many chariots and cavalry.
          1. Yet this was precisely the point. An obedient Israelite king was to depend not on military strength but on the Lord alone. God had already demonstrated His ability to crush a large superior chariot army (Ex. 14–15).
          2. Acquiring horses would mean the people would be going to Egypt, where many were available. Returning to the nation’s former land of slavery was unthinkable.
        2. Wives - The prohibition against taking many wives was given because many kings married foreign women to form political alliances. If the king followed the Lord he would not need political alliances. Also foreign wives would cause his heart to be led astray to worship their idols.
        3. Silver/Gold - The prohibition against large amounts of silver and gold was intended to keep the king from developing a sense of independence and a lust for material wealth.
          1. All 3 prohibitions, then, were designed to reduce the king to the status of a servant totally dependent on his Master, the Lord.
          2. The tragedy of ignoring these commands is seen in Solomon who broke all 3 prohibitions.
            1. Billy Graham always said these same 3 things will take a man out of ministry...power, women, money.
        4. Biblical writers always judged the future kings by these statutes.
          1. Solomon’s multiplied horses, gold, silver, & wives, & his heart was turned away from God.
          2. In contrast Josiah read & kept the book of the law (Deut), a copy was found in the restoration of the temple which took place during his reign. 2 Kings 22:8-11
      4. The King was to copy, read, & keep the laws of Deut (18,19)
        1. He must read and obey the law of God daily.
    3. Wisdom for us today:
      1. Don’t trust what you can accumulate in this God.
        1. It’s Gods role to run the universe & my role to Trust Him.
      2. Have a copy of Scripture with you (easy now on phones). Read it daily. A goal is to learn to fear God. Do what it says.
    4. Questions: [please don’t think of Sunday School answers, think soul-ish]
      1. Why do you personally do devotions? What do you hope to get out of it? What should be your take away/goal?
      2. How do you get there? How do you do it personally?
      3. What do you struggle with the most? Consistency or actually getting something out of it? [how to mitigate both]
    5. Ps.119:147 I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help (prayer); I hope in Your word (devotions).
      1. It’s here where I learned my bible. This is where you will grow in your Christianity.
      2. I learned it contains, all things that pertain to life & godliness.
    6. Fenelon, the Archbishop of Cambrai (Combray) France, during the 17th century, likened a devotion unto 2 images:
      1. The 1st was a Painting. In viewing art “no single visit will be sufficient” the more you visit the painting, the more it will reveal itself to the visitor.
        1. And so with reading Gods word & re-read it.
        2. Sit quietly in its presence, & let it reveal its truths to you.
      2. The 2nd is that of a Farmer and his seed. After the farmer places the seed in the ground, there is a time of waiting.
        1. The sun, rain, air, and soil, work together causing slow growth, in the process called germination.
        2. Long before any visible action occurs above ground, the tap-root must grow deep.
        3. The later growth and harvest will all depend on this underground work, going on in darkness, which is all hidden from the sight of man.
        4. Once this work is accomplished then appears the little green shoot above ground.
    7. Allow word-seeds to germinate down deep within your mind and heart.
      1. Seed sown today may not come up for weeks down the line.
      2. When you do devotional reading, remember it’s like taking vitamins, you won’t see immediate results, it’s the long term bone strengthening and muscle building we are looking for, not a quick “spurt” of spiritual steroids to “look” as if we have growth.
    8. Ps.1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates (ponders by talking to himself) day and night.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 17". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.