Whenever a new king took the throne of Israel, God told him to start his reign with one activity that would ensure he had a prosperous reign. The same instruction applies to us, whether we are a king, a president, a congressman, a pastor, a CEO, a supervisor, a teacher, or a parent. Really, this activity is important for anyone who is leading others.
God’s instruction is recorded for us in Deuteronomy 17:18-19. It says, “When he [the new king] takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers 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.
After all the pomp and circumstance of his inauguration, the new king was to write a copy of God’s Word for himself. Some people think he was to make a copy only of Deuteronomy. Others think he was to copy the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch.
FIRST and foremost, this activity was to remind the new king that his reign would only be as healthy as was his submission to his Heavenly King. His authority as the nation’s monarch was not bestowed on him so that he could have his own way, but it was an opportunity and responsibility from God to care for those living under his rule.
In the same way, God has given each of us the Bible to enable us to “rule” well. Whether on the job, in the community, in the classroom, or in the home, we need God’s wisdom for the task. We may not need to write our own copy of the Scriptures, but we need to have our own Bible to read and refer to.
Notice that the king was to “read it all the days of his life.” He wasn’t to make a copy and then store it away in his closet. For us, it’s not enough to own a Bible. We are called to read it, to study it, to memorize and meditate on it. Someone has said, “If you see a Bible that’s falling apart, it’s owner is probably not falling apart.” Like the king, God gives us His Word to help us live well.
SECOND, another purpose of the Word is that we might “learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law.” The Word of God is the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) to help us in our fight against sin. Someone once said, “Either the Word will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Word.”
THIRD, there was another purpose for the king to read the Scripture daily. It was so that he would “not consider himself better than his brothers.” He’d be reminded that he had been placed in the position of king, not because he was better than others, but that he was to have a genuine care and respect for them. As you and I read the Bible, we are reminded that none of us is without sin. All of us need God’s mercy and grace.
Over the years, the excuse for not spending much time in the Bible that I’ve heard more than any other is, “I’m too busy.” I’m ashamed to say, I’ve used that excuse before. But a king’s life is also full. Nevertheless, God told him to read the Word every day. We may need to squeeze it in on our lunches. Some people listen to the Bible while driving to work or school. Some work at memorizing a portion to keep their mind engaged on the Word. We are told to “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Colossians 3:16)
I hope this blog encourages you to open your Bibles more often. If you are new to the Bible, I’d suggest starting with the New Testament.