Ancient Words for Modern (political) Thinkers

Weekend Musings

I was reading the book of Moses, the Torah, specifically the book of Deuteronomy and ran across this pregnant passage. Moses is the mouthpiece of God, he is sharing God’s will for the nation when they come into the land and begin to set up governmental structures. He speaks of a time in the future when they will set up a kingship in anticipation of the ultimate kingship of God Himself.

Deuteronomy 17:15-17 (ESV) 15 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. 16 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.’ 17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.[1]

I read this passage and immediately thought of Senator Mark Hatfield’s comment about the danger of politics and governing in general. Senator Hatfield once said,

“I don’t know of any profession or pursuit in life that is more seductive than politics, because it deals primarily with power.[2]

Isn’t this what Moses and God are concerned about in this passage?

Vs. 16—“only he shall not acquire many horses.” Horses were the key to military power in ancient world. With them you drove your chariots, the tanks of that era. With them you moved your people and equipment over vast distances.  This is the temptation to POWER.

Vs. 17—“he shall not acquire many wives.” This is the temptation of SEX that often travels with a sense of power.

Vs. 17—“nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.” This is the temptation of RICHES.

Saul, Israel’s first King, succumbed to the temptations of POWER. David, Israel’s second King, succumbed to the temptations of both POWER and SEX, and Solomon, the third King, succumbed to all three. These leaders of government all failed to heed the warning of Deuteronomy 17 and the nation paid the consequences. Pray that our leaders, no matter what their party and policy, would learn to fight these temptations lest our nation suffer the consequences. And pray that God would give you wisdom in who to elect to lead our nation.

[1]  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2001. [2]Christianity Today “Mark Hatfield Taps into the Real Power on Capital Hill,” (October 22, 1982), 22.

Marty Schoenleber, Jr. is the founding pastor of one church, teaching pastor of another church and the church planting trainer/mentor of over 200 other church planting pastors. He has taught Preaching at the International School of Theology, and Evangelism at Moody Graduate School of Theology and Church Planting at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His latest book is Picking a President: Or Any Other Elected Official (CrossBooks, [late May 2012]). To enjoy a free subscription to his blog, log-on to, where you can post your comments, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest reflections on church planting, Biblical Expositions and musings about church, culture and spiritual formation. Follow Pastor Marty on twitter @1Chosenrebel4JC.

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