The Only True Duty of a Deuteronomist King

c. 840
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Imagine if every chief executive or monarch kept to this rule today?

“When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel. (Deu 17:18-20 NLT)

First, he must yield to the Law and always to the Law. The Levitical Priests had power, although no land. They were to decide all cases, and presumably, even against the King himself:

“Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the LORD your God has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the name of the LORD; and every dispute and every assault shall be settled by them. (Deu 21:5 NAU)

The King had to copy the book of Deuteronomy by hand, before the Priests and forever hold that book to his chest. Not only that, but he has to read it, learn it, and memorize it.

Imagine, then, what that would look like today…

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Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

2 thoughts on “The Only True Duty of a Deuteronomist King

    1. Very true! I guess my intention is to show that the role of the DT king is not to get away from the Law, but to live completely within it, to carry it, to, if you will, become one with the force law

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