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#1,164 – Fear God by Keeping His Law (Deuteronomy 17:14–20)

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“When you come to the land the Lord your God has given you and you possess it and dwell on it, and then say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose, one from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you who is not your brother, only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away. Nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law approved by the Levitical priests and it shall be with him and he shall read it in all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children in Israel.”
-Deuteronomy 17:14–20

Now, as we are praying leading up to the presidential election in the United States, I want to be careful in reading from Deuteronomy to make sure it’s clear this is a unique time in Old Testament history when God is speaking about a king among His people and how that king should rule and lead in the structure of the people of Israel. We want to be careful when we’re reading the Old Testament not to just put in United States and the place of Israel here and think, “Okay, so this is what we should do,” and all these things specifics, at the same time as God gives instructions for the leaders among these people, we see characteristics that God desires in all leaders among any people, characteristics that we see throughout the rest of the Old Testament, in the New Testament, particularly when you think about leaders in the church, and ultimately exemplified in Jesus and His character.

When we fear God, we respond in obedience.

When I read Deuteronomy 17 and meditate on these verses, I’m driven to pray, well, let’s pray. God, we praise you, one, for setting up kings the way you did for the good of your people in the Old Testament. And God, we think about how so many kings fell short of what you described in your word here and the devastating effects that had on your people. We pray as citizens of the country we are in, specifically most of us as citizens of the United States. God, we pray for leaders who will hear and obey your word. God, we pray for that. We pray for leaders who will be sensitive to your word, not the foolish ways of this world. We pray for leaders to avoid greed. We pray for leaders who avoid adultery and sexual immorality. We pray for leaders who spurn idolatry, who fear and submit to your authority overall. God, we pray for leaders who demonstrate humility before you, before the people they lead. Oh God, for all these characteristics we pray, in our current leaders and future leaders. God, we ask for, we plead for, we pray that you would work in leaders’ hearts, present and future, to create, to foster humility and fear of you and submission to your authority and sensitivity to your word and a fleeing.

God, we pray for leaders who flee greed and who flee adultery and sexual immorality and who flee idolatry and who lead in a Romans 13 kind of way, for the good of the people they govern and for the protection of people against evil. God, we ask for leaders like this. As we do, we are so thankful, Jesus, that you are our ultimate leader. You are our Lord, you are our King. We praise you for you are the only perfect King. You’re the only perfect Lord. You are the one in whom we place all our trust and all our hope. You are the one to whom we give all of our allegiance. We love you, Jesus.

We love you all the more when we see the inadequacy of leaders around us. We are so thankful that you’re our leader and we pray you’d help us to point people to you as we talk about political candidates and all kinds of different issues and an election. God, we pray that you would help us to point people to you, the just and good leader who humbled yourself and became obedient to death on a cross for our sins. You’ve been exalted by God, given a name that is above every name, that at your name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. Help us to point people to you and your Lordship, your leadership above all during these days. In your name, Jesus, our leader, and Lord we pray. Amen.

Join us in praying God’s Word as we lead up to the presidential election on November 3rd. Download our prayer guide HERE.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.
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