Messianic Torah Portion Shoftim "Judges"
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:18- 21:9
A leader is often required to make tough decisions. For example, it is the countries leader's responsibility to know when the time has come for war or the time is right for negotiations. It is also the leader's responsibility to help his or her own people in recovering from a catastrophic event. Without a strong leader during critical times a country can become disorganized and lose faith in the ability of their leaders to govern. However, the opposite occurs when a leader responds quickly and calmly to adverse situations. In other words, the primary function of a country's leader is to provide a sense of peace and stability by responding quickly and calmly in adverse situations. HaShem understood the fact the people feel a sense of peace and stability when governed by a strong and decisive leader. Therefore, it was not a surprise to HaShem that the Children of Yisrael would eventually want a king. Devarim 17:14 states "When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God gave you, and shall possess it, and shall dwell therein, and shall say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me" Because HaShem knew that the Children of Yisrael would eventually want to be ruled by a king, He required the king to meet three criteria. The three criteria that HaShem required for a king of Yisrael are citizenship, not greedy, and knowledge of HaShem.
The first commandment HaShem expects a king of Yisrael to fulfill is that he would be native born. In other words, HaShem wanted the king to be a natural born citizen. Devarim 17:15 states "You shall in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shall thou set king over thee: thou may not set a stranger over you, which is not your brother." Yisrael's king needs to be empathetic to the sufferings of Yisrael. Foreigners cannot feel the same sense of belonging as a native born individual. A foreigner is always considered an outsider. HaShem forbade choosing a ruler that was a foreigner so that the king would have a personal stake in the land. It was imperative that the king felt the sufferings and the joys of the rest of Yisrael. Only a native born Yisraelite could develop the bonds necessary to identify with the sufferings and the hopes of His people. In other words, a native born king is more likely to understand the needs of his people. Yeshua states it this way in Mathew 25:34-40. "Then shall the king say to those on his right hand, Come ye, the blessed of my Father, inherit the reign that hath been prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I did hunger, and ye gave me to eat; I did thirst, and ye gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and ye received me; naked, and ye put around me; I was infirm, and ye looked after me; in prison I was, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see thee hungering, and we nourished? Or thirsting, and we gave to drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and we received? Or naked, and we put around? And when did we see thee infirm, or in prison, and we came unto thee? And the king answering, shall say to them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye did it to one of these my brethren-the least-to me ye did it." A true leader understands that a country is only as healthy as its people. Therefore, when the most insignificant part of the kingdom experiences adversity the king also experiences adversity.
The second commandment HaShem expects a King to fulfill is that he will not be greedy. In other words, HaShem does not want a king to rule over Yisrael primarily for financial gain. As a result, the king should not be focused on the accumulation of wealth. Devarim 17:16-17 states "he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold." HaShem wanted the kings of Yisrael to focus on ruling Yisrael. The king's desire to accumulate wealth while in office would distract him from committing himself completely to ruling Yisrael the way that HaShem desired. A king who becomes more interested in personal gain, looses interest in the welfare of his subjects. Satan even tempted Yeshua with the accumulation of wealth to distract Him from committing Himself completely to HaShem's will. We can see this in Mathew 4:8-10 which states "the devil took him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And said unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then said Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and him only shall thou serve." HaShem's kings are to serve Him with all their heart, mind, and soul.
The third commandment HaShem expects a King of Yisrael to fulfill is that he fully understands and lives by the Torah. Devarim 17:18-20 states "it shall be, when he sits upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel." Fulfilling HaShem's plan for the Children of Yisrael is the most important duty of the king. HaShem wanted every king to write his own copy of the Torah. Writing a personal copy of the Torah forced the king to read every word. As a result, a king became intimately familiar with the Torah. In other words, HaShem wanted Yisrael's kings to live by, and observe the same commandments that all Yisrael lived by. The king was not to consider himself better than anyone else. Therefore, by serving HaShem Yisrael's king was also serving his brethren.
HaShem wanted the kings of Yisrael to be totally focused on serving Him and serving Yisrael. HaShem gave the kings of Yisrael three commandments for this purpose. The first commandment HaShem required was the kings be native born. HaShem did not want an outsider to rule Yisrael. An outsider would not have the empathy for Yisrael that a Yisraelite does. The second commandment HaShem wanted fulfilled was to not accumulate riches while in office. HaShem wanted the king of Yisrael to serve him whole-heartedly. The accumulation of wealth would distract him from putting HaShem's will first. The third commandment HaShem wanted a king to fulfill was to write a personal copy of the Torah. HaShem wanted the king to realize that he had to abide by the same rules that all Yisrael abided by. HaShem wanted the king to realize he was the same as everyone else. The king was not above the law, he was equally bound to his subjects through the Torah.
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