When you are come to the land which the LORD your God gives you, and shall possess it, and shall dwell therein, and shall say…
A king is the creation of a nation's will. The nation does not exist for the king, but the king exists for the nation. His proper aim is not personal glory, but the widest public good.
I. KINGS ARE THE PRODUCT OF A DEGENERATE AGE. Since the King of heaven is willing to give his counsel and aid to men, it is for our honor and advantage to live under the direct administration of God; and it is only when piety and faith decline that men clamor for a human king. The conquests of Canaan by Israel had been most complete when Israel most carefully followed the commands of God. To sensitive minds, it would have been a dagger-thrust to imitate the practices of the degenerate heathen.
II. DIVINE LIMITATIONS ABOUT THE CHOICE OF A KING. In condescension to human infirmity, God will allow the elevation of a man to the throne. Through our own caprices, God ofttimes punishes us. Yet God kindly sets barriers about our capricious wills. For martial purposes, foolish men would often choose a stalwart giant, some Goliath, to be their king, though he be of foreign birth; or some successful warrior to lead them forth to battle. This is prohibited. The nation is to be self-contained. All the elements of prosperity may be found within its own borders. The will of God must be respected. God himself will select the man, point him out by unmistakable methods, and the nation can do no more than gratefully accept God's wise decision, He will choose; they must anoint.
III. DIVINE LIMITATIONS ABOUT THE CONDUCT OF A KING. To him does not belong the privilege to gratify every taste and temper. The very contrary. He is under greater obligations than any other man to restrain himself. Temptation will surround him on every side; but he must meet temptation with vigilance, patience, firmness. To be a true king, he must first conquer himself. He must restrain carnal ambition. He must restrain love of display. He must restrain the passion for conquest. He must restrain sensual pleasure. He must restrain his avarice. His real distinction is not to have many horses, many wives, or great riches. His distinction is to be wise administrator of righteousness, the protector of public liberty and peace. To fulfill faithfully the functions of a king, he must walk circumspectly in the narrow way - be a loyal subject to the King of heaven.
IV. LIMITATIONS ABOUT THE PRIVATE LIFE OF A KING, His first concern must be respecting his personal fitness for such responsible office. No pains must he spare to obtain complete equipment. He must count no labor severe or menial by which he may qualify himself for kingly duties. His first duty is to obtain completest acquaintance with the will of God. To this end he must possess a copy of God's written Law, and in this Law he must meditate day and night. The spirit of this Law must animate his being and breathe in all his speech. God's Word must be his vade mecum, his daily compass and chart. He must move among his courtiers and governors as a visible embodiment of truth and purity, a living transcript of the Divine will. This is a true pattern of a king - a man who excels in wisdom, having learnt of God; a man who is eminent for pious obedience, and writes in largest characters the model of a noble life. Such a man shall live. "Though lie die, his influence and rule shall live." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;