January 19, 2008

The Right Kind of King

Deuteronomy 17:14-20

He is to read [this law] all the days of his life ...
Deuteronomy 17:19


Every now and then a top-level official makes the news for abuse of office. Top leadership positions are laden with opportunities for selfishness and corruption. That's why business, government, and the church build in checks and balances. The human heart is sinful.

Israel eventually needed kings because life in the promised land became chaotic: "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit" (Judges 21:25). Being God's special people, Israel would need a special king, not one like the neighboring nations had. The delight of Israel's king would be the law of the Lord. Daily meditation on it would make him like a tree planted by streams of water, whose leaves would not wither (Psalm 1). The people would rest safely in his shade. A person needed special discipline to be a good king in Israel. It wasn't easy. And many of Israel's kings failed miserably.

It isn't easy being a Christian. Without good leadership we are prone to do what is right in our own eyes, to rule our minds and bodies as we see fit. Daily meditation on the law of the Lord will keep our eyes on the path of righteousness. Even so, "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).

Because we're no better at ruling our lives than were the people of Israel, let's give thanks for the Spirit, who guides us to live by Christ's righteousness (Rom. 8:9-17).

Heavenly Father, rule us by your Word and Spirit, that we may flourish like trees planted beside streams of living water. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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