|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:14-20 God himself was in a particular manner Israel's King; and if they set another over them, it was necessary that he should choose the person. Accordingly, when the people desired a king, they applied to Samuel, a prophet of the Lord. In all cases, God's choice, if we can but know it, should direct, determine, and overrule ours. Laws are given for the prince that should be elected. He must carefully avoid every thing that would turn him from God and religion. Riches, honours, and pleasures, are three great hinderances of godliness, (the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life,) especially to those in high stations; against these the king is here warned. The king must carefully study the law of God, and make that his rule; and having a copy of the Scriptures of his own writing, must read therein all the days of his life. It is not enough to have Bibles, but we must use them, use them daily, as long as we live. Christ's scholars never learn above their Bibles, but will have constant occasion for them, till they come to that world where knowledge and love will be made perfect. The king's writing and reading were as nothing, if he did not practise what he wrote and read. And those who fear God and keep his commandments, will fare the better for it even in this world.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away,.... From attending to the duty of his office, the care and government of his people, and from serious religion; and particularly from the worship of the true God, as the heart of Solomon was turned away from it by his numerous idolatrous wives, 1 Kings 11:3, it is a common notion of the Jews that a king might have eighteen wives, and no more (k): neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold; he might increase his wealth, but not greatly, lest his heart should be lifted up with pride by it, and lest his subjects should be oppressed and burdened with taxes for that purpose; or he, being possessed of so much, should make use of it to enslave them, and especially should be so elated with it as to deny God, and despise his providence, and disobey his laws; see Proverbs 30:9. The Jews generally say (l), that he ought not to multiply more than what will pay the stipends or wages of his servants, and only for the treasury of the house of the Lord, and for the necessity of the congregation (or commonwealth), and for their wars; but not for himself, and his own treasury.
(k) Maimon. Issure Biah, c. 1. sect. 2. Misn. ut supra. (Sanhedrin, c. 10. sect. 4.). T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 21. 1. Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc. (l) Maimon. ib. sect. 4. Misn. ut supra.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away—There were the strongest reasons for recording an express prohibition on this point, founded on the practice of neighboring countries in which polygamy prevailed, and whose kings had numerous harems; besides, the monarch of Israel was to be absolutely independent of the people and had nothing but the divine law to restrain his passions. The mischievous effects resulting from the breach of this condition were exemplified in the history of Solomon and other princes, who, by trampling on the restrictive law, corrupted themselves as well as the nation.
neither shall he greatly multiply … silver and gold—that is, the kings were forbidden to accumulate money for private purposes.
Deuteronomy 17:17 Parallel Commentaries
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