The Forgotten Duty of Kings

by Joshua Travers - April 12, 2022

There is one duty that the kings of Israel commonly failed to accomplish, but that we, as future kings in the Kingdom of God, cannot afford to forget!

The Forgotten Duty of Kings

“I just can’t wait to be king!”

In Disney’s The Lion King, that one song captures everybody’s childhood dream: to become king. Most of us have at one point imagined what life would be like if we were king. No more work, unlimited ice cream, and the banning of homework are a few of the more common laws young people might imagine enacting if they were king.

But that line—“I just can’t wait to be king!”—should apply to all of God’s people. As astounding as it may seem, we will all be kings and queens regardless of our diverse and nonroyal backgrounds. The Bible clearly shows that God wants us to be kings in His Kingdom (Revelation 5:10)!

There is an often-forgotten responsibility that God set for the kings of Israel.

To the future kings of Israel

When talking to the people of Israel shortly before entering the Promised Land, God told them through Moses what He expected of their future kings. God actually gave these instructions centuries before Israel even had a king.

Many of the rules that God placed for kings of Israel are not unusual, such as:

  • Must be a native Israelite—not a foreigner.
  • Must not make alliances with certain nations.
  • Must not multiply wives.
  • Must not multiply silver and gold.

The list provided in Deuteronomy 17:14-17 doesn’t look too exciting or shocking. After that list, however, God throws in something of a surprise.

Write the law

The next responsibility of a king was to “write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And 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 and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes” (Deuteronomy 17:18-19).

Few of us would say, “I can’t wait to be king so that I can write out the law of God by hand!” But this was an expectation God held for those who would rule over His people. Sadly, there is no record in the Bible that any of Israel’s kings actually did this, but hopefully some did.

It’s important to note that this task was designed to be done by the king himself, not by a scribe, such as the one that David had (2 Samuel 8:17). The king couldn’t delegate this job; he was to do it himself. Writing out God’s law by hand would help him to be more educated of its contents and to develop a greater respect for what it said. The law likely referred to the books we call Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

After the writing of the law was complete, the king was expected to read a portion of it on a daily basis and to cherish it as one of his prized possessions. Through this, his fear of and relationship with God would be established, and the kingdom would prosper.

Considering Israel’s sad history, it seems that few, if any, of Israel’s kings actually did this. Perhaps that helps explain why so many of the kings of Israel and Judah were so wicked.

To the future kings of the Kingdom

As future kings in the Kingdom of God, this task can have great benefits for us. Writing out the entire law by hand would be an enlightening and productive venture for all of us. But even if we are never able to write it all out, we can and should be intimately familiar with God’s law, learn about it and cherish it deeply. Of course, that applies to all of God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16).

To establish an intimate knowledge of the Bible, we must read from it daily. Daily Bible study is an essential habit for Christians. Bible study helps us stay committed to God’s Word and not deviate from it (Deuteronomy 17:20). 

As future kings, we have the responsibility to delve deeply into our Bibles and to read daily from God’s Word so that we can grow to be just and godly kings.

To learn more, read “Born to Be a King.”

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