-The administration of justice continues throughout this 17th chapter. It starts with an admonition to only sacrifice unblemished oxen and/or sheep. Presenting anything blemished is a “detestable thing to the LORD…(Deuteronomy 17:1).” Then, another warning about any man or woman found in their midst doing evil in the area of serving or worshiping other false gods is pronounced with dire consequences for the guilty. Transgressing the covenant of the LORD established with His people will require a thorough investigation in order to establish credence in the crime. If they are found guilty on the evidence of two or three witnesses, he or she shall be put to death by stoning with the hand of the witness making the first throw. The others would join in afterwards to complete to execution of justice for the purpose of purging the evil from their midst (Deuteronomy 17:2-7). In difficult cases that were too hard to decide with reference to homicides, lawsuits, and assaults, the people were commanded to arise and go to the place that God chooses (Jerusalem it would be) presenting the situation before the supreme priestly authority, the Levitical priest or the judge, who was in office in those days. These authorities would decide and declare the verdict for each challenging case, and the people were expected to be completely obedient in their decisions. “The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the LORD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again (Deuteronomy 17:8-13).”
-Next, the issue of kingship was discussed. God knew that one day, after they had conquered the land of His possession where they were going that they would desire to be like the other nations of the world and set a human king over them. God had several requirements to make this a just system under His authority in the event of that happening. First, they were to be countrymen of the Hebrews, no foreigners were ever to be allowed as a king. They were not to multiply horses for themselves as ruler, nor were they to ever return to Egypt to multiply horses. Implied in this was a negation of both personal greed and nationalistic fervor for military might over God’s protection. God had said to them in regards to going back to Egypt for help, “You shall never again return that way.” God was capable of giving them security and protection all by Himself. Further, any future king was warned not to multiply wives for himself, else his heart would turn away from his LORD. In addition, the king was never to “greatly increase silver and gold for himself.” He was never to make his position a reward or a scheme to make money. These were the prohibitions that the LORD gave to those in the position of kingship. An extra and positive requirement for the king, while sitting on his throne of authority, was to write out for himself a copy of the Law of the LORD on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. “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, by carefully observing all the words of this Law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left, so that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).” Sadly, when Israel did desire a king at the end of the judges’ period, the kings did not obey many of these rational and sustaining edicts from the LORD. Saul’s reign ended before his son could ever even take the throne (1 Chronicles 10), and Solomon followed the path of his father David in multiplying wives. He also amassed great fortunes and multiplied his war machine (1 Kings 9:21-11:43, 2 Chronicles 9:13-31). In fact, the period of Israel’s and Judah’s kings was for the most part a time of constant strife with the LORD in regards to His sovereignty over the nation.
-*Application* Only the LORD is completely fair and just. Only He knows the true intentions of the heart and can decide perfectly for all cases. His administration is the one we should look to above all human institutions and systems. This is why Jesus Christ is the absolute Prophet, Priest, and King for all time. His Kingdom lasts forever, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Thank God today for His just and abiding authority and rule over this universe. Only when we come into complete submission to His rule can we truly experience freedom, blessing, and lasting success.
Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 17:19-20