|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.
Verse 18. - A copy of this law; literally, a double of this Law, i.e. not, as the LXX. have it, "This reiteration of the Law" (τὸ δευτερονόμιον τοῦτο), but a duplicate or copy of the Pentateuchal Law. The Jews understand by "double" that two copies of the Law were to be made by the king (Maimon., ' De Regibus,' e. 3. § 1); but this is unnecessary: every copy of a law is a double of it. Oat of that which is before the priests. The priests were the custodians of the written Law (Deuteronomy 31:26); and from the text of their codex was the king's copy to be written.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom,.... When he is settled on it, and is even amidst all the pomp and glory of it: that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book; which copy the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions interpret of this book of Deuteronomy, which is a summary abstract and repetition of the various laws of God to the people of Israel; though the Jewish writers commonly understand it of the whole Pentateuch, the five books of Moses; which perhaps may be enlarging it too much, as it would be reducing it to too little to restrain it to this law concerning kings, as the Targum of Jonathan. The word "Mishneh", rendered "copy", signifies "double"; hence some take it to mean a double exemplar or copy of the law he was obliged to write out, whereby it would be the more imprinted on his mind, and he would be furnished with it for his use at home and abroad, as the Jewish writers observe; so Jarchi by the copy understands two books of the law, one to be left in his treasury, the other to go out and in with him. The same is said in the Talmud (m), and with which Maimonides (n) agrees, whose words are,"at the time a king sits on the throne of his kingdom, he writes for himself a book of the law, besides what his fathers left him; and he copies it out of the book of the court by the order of the sanhedrim of seventy one; if his fathers have left him none, or it is lost, he writes two books of the law, one he leaves in the house of his treasures, which he is commanded, as everyone of Israel is, and the second never departs from him;''but one may seem sufficient on all occasions, and for all purposes; and this was to be wrote out of that which is before the priests and Levites; the original copy of it, which was deposited in the side of the ark; see Deuteronomy 31:26.
(m) T. Bab. Sanhedrn, fol. 21. 2.((n) Ut supra (Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 2.), sect. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18-20. he shall write him a copy of this law in a book—The original scroll of the ancient Scriptures was deposited in the sanctuary under the strict custody of the priests (see on De 31:26; 2Ki 22:8). Each monarch, on his accession, was to be furnished with a true and faithful copy, which he was to keep constantly beside him, and daily peruse it, that his character and sentiments being cast into its sanctifying mould, he might discharge his royal functions in the spirit of faith and piety, of humility and a love or righteousness.
Deuteronomy 17:18 Parallel Commentaries
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