Wanted: A Good King

Scripture Reading — Deuteronomy 17:14-20

“Be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God ­chooses.” — Deuteronomy 17:15

The idea of having a king or ruler is common throughout human history and culture. But what does an ideal king look like? By what standard should a king be measured?

In today’s passage, the Lord, through Moses, anticipates that the time will come when Israel will want a king like all the other nations have. So here God gives his law for appointing a human king; he lays out the basic job requirements and gives a standard by which kings will be measured.

Note too that God shows that having a human king is optional. It is neither required nor forbidden. If the people want a king, the king must be someone from among them, both divinely chosen and appointed by the people.

The description of this king may seem surprising. He is not to have too much in the way of weapons, wives, or wealth. Though Israel may get the idea of the king from surrounding nations, the ideal for kingship will actually be countercultural. The kings of other nations used weapons, wives, and wealth to proclaim and advance their reign. But that was not to be the way in Israel.

For those of us who proclaim Christ as King, we note how different he is from worldly kings. His kingship is humble and peaceful because he reigns with God’s love and goodness, maintaining righteousness and true justice everywhere.

Prayer

We praise you, O God, for in Jesus you have given us the King who rules over all the kings of the earth. By your Spirit, help us to learn his ways and follow his kingdom of peace. Amen.