Deuteronomy 17: How the government/governor should govern

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 gives some instructions for the government/governor. Maybe our governments should heed this biblical advice for today? It’s still relevant.

1/ The people must pray about who we choose to vote for. “be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses.” (Deut. 17:15, TNIV)

2/ The national leader must be a citizen of the country. “One of your own community you may set as king over you; you are not permitted to put a foreigner over you, who is not of your own community.” (Deut. 17:15b, NRSV)

3/ The government should have limited state-control of assets, and limited powers. “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself.” (Deut. 17:16a, TNIV)

4/ The government should not tax excessively. “He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.” (Deut.17:17b, TNIV)

5/ The government/governor must follow and enforce the laws of the land. “When he has taken the throne of his kingdom, he shall have a copy of this law written for him in the presence of the levitical priests. It shall remain with him and he shall read in it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, diligently observing all the words of this law and these statutes.” (Deut. 17:18-19, NRSV)

6/ The leader must be humble. “And not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites.” (Deut. 17:20, TNIV)

7/ The governor should be centrist, neither right-wing nor left-wing. “And not… turn from the law to the right or to the left.” (Deut. 17:20, TNIV). (Hahaha. Almost gotcha on this last one.) The full verse actually says: “and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”


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