There are some interesting verses found in the 17th chapter of the book of Deuteronomy regarding government.
“When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.”
Deuteronomy 17:14-15 (NKJV)
“Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And 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 and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.”
Deuteronomy 17:18-20 (NKJV)
The first thing we notice in verses 14 -15 is that Israel was not to select a governor, a king, who was not a native-born citizen. There is one obvious reason for this, a native-born citizen should be familiar with the society and most of all, with the Lord who is the ultimate law-giver. When the Constitution of the United States was written, this concept was included in that the office of President may not be filled by anyone who is not a natural born citizen.
The main point I want to mention though is found in verses 18-20 where the Lord tells us that the king is to personally write a copy of the book of the law for himself from the original that was to be kept by the priests, the Levites. He could not have someone else make this copy, he had to make it himself. Why? When you write something, it is remembered more when you just read it. You have two activities, reading and writing, and the more ways something gets into you, the easier it is to remember.
Then, the king is instructed to keep this copy “with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life.” In other words, he was to read from this personal copy of the “book of the law” every day. Why? There are several reasons mentioned:
that he may learn to fear the Lord his God
and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes
that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren
that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left
and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel
When you consider Israel as a nation, the founding documents of the nation were this “book of the law,” the five books of Moses.
There are four documents which form the basis of the United States of America. Most people consider the Constitution, and some the Declaration of Independence, but there are two more documents that are at the very heart of out great republic. All of our founding documents are these:
Mayflower Compact – November 11, 1620
The Declaration of Independence – July 4, 1776
The Constitution of the United States – September 17, 1787
The Mayflower Compact contains these words, “In the Name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, having fot the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith, a voyage to plant the first colony . . .do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, combine ourselves into a civil body politic.” This is the beginning of our politics.
The Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England were written by a man of God to join the first four colonies into one people. It was the forerunner of our government and states, “Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purity with peace. . . We therefore do conceive it our bounder duty. . . That, as in nation and religion, so in other respects, we be and continue one”
The Declaration of Independence contains these words starting in the second paragraph, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This Declaration made us a nation.
Each of these three documents have reference to God and two of them declare openly that the purpose of our forefathers in coming to this continent was to establish a Christian nation, with a Christian purpose, to bless the whole world. These three documents are not open to amendment or change.
The Constitution of the United States begins with these words, “We the People of the United States, . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” The Constitution is the blueprint for our administrative political machinery, and although it does not mention God, except in regard to the oath of office of the President, is bound by the other three documents that preceded it. Notice that it is “We the People” who established these documents and the institutions created by them.
Now, how does all this tie into the verses from Deuteronomy chapter 17 quoted above? If the “book of the Law” was the founding documents of the nation of Israel and the king was required to read it every day, then the President, members of Congress and the Senate, and the Supreme Court need to each have their own copies of these documents and read from them every day.
In Israel, I believe there was only one king who followed these instructions. While I have not found a direct statement to this effect, I believe David had his own copy and read from it daily based on the following verse:
Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
Psalm 119:97 (NKJV)
The fact that David meditated on and loved the founding documents of his nation made him “a man after God’s own heart.” Following David you see kings who did evil in the sight of the Lord. The result was that the nation followed strange gods, broke their covenant with the Almighty, was split into two nations and eventually carried off into captivity.
Let us take warning!