I am working on “perfecting” the Graphōble Bible Study Journal which is a Bible study system that requires a person to, among other tasks, copy the Scripture-under-study and draw a sketch representing the relationships in the passage. With this mind, the passage that stood out in the Day 171 reading was Deuteronomy 17:18–20 (ESV), which reads:
18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.
I “phrased” this passage and found out some interesting practices that God commanded the king of Israel to practice. These practices are applicable to Bible engagement by a 21st Century Christian.
When the king assumed his reign, he was to copy the law. A correlation to today is that when a person becomes a Christian, he or she should begin to engage God’s Word. In the specific context of this passage, such engagement would include copying Scripture. One takeaway is that upon conversion, a new believer accepts a new responsibility with respect to God’s Word.
Verse 18b says that, “he shall write for himself in a book [i.e., a scroll] a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests.” There is some confusion over the specifics of this phrase in that it may mean the king himself is to copy the law or “he is to have a copy made for him.” There is also disagreement over the scope of the term “law” in that did it mean the complete Torah, the book of Deuteronomy or a part of Deuteronomy. See Bratcher, R. G., & Hatton, H. A. (2000). A handbook on Deuteronomy (p. 308). New York: United Bible Societies. The copy had to be approved by the Levitical priests so that what the king read was accurate. A second takeaway is that the believer ought to carefully copy Scripture so that the copy is accurate. Then, he or she should keep his or her writings and notes, etc. in a notebook or journal of some sort. The advantage of memorializing these efforts is to be able to refer back to one’s thoughts, etc. in the future.
Verse 19a commands the king to keep the book with him and read it all the days of his life. It makes sense that if the king is going to read the book, he must have it with him. A third takeaway is that a believer must keep the Bible near and at hand if he or she is going to engage the Bible on a daily basis. A believer can engage the Bible through reading, studying, meditating or listening.
Verse 19b teaches that the king may learn (gain knowledge or skills) to fear (meaning to have a feeling of respect and reverence) the LORD his God. Note the sense of personal relationship in the phrase “his God.” Respect and reverence for God comes “by keeping all the words of this law” and “doing them.” Notice the emphasis on obedience through the use of “keeping” (to conform one’s actions or practices to the law) and “doing” (to carry out or perform an action or course of conduct). The fourth takeaway is that the way one gains a respect and reverence for God is TO OBEY what God teaches in His Word. A believer can all of the head knowledge in the world, but if that somehow does not manifest itself in action, he or she will not live the abundant Christian life.
By the king learning to fear the LORD through keeping and doing what he reads in the law, he experiences three main benefits. First, he does not become prideful (verse 20a, i.e., “his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers”). Pride is a very bad thing and is the root of many sins. A fifth takeaway is that by engaging God’s Word, the 21st Century believer realizes that salvation is by Christ alone and grace alone and faith alone and NOT BY WORKS so that he or she should not boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). This realization should keep one from becoming prideful.
Second, the king becomes obedient to the law (verse 20b, i.e., “that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left”). This is a common idiom, for example, see Deuteronomy 5:32 (ESV), “32 You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” A sixth takeaway is that by engaging Gods Word, a believer today lives a more holy life, i.e., a life that is more obedient to God.
Third, by staying true to the law, the king will have an abundant and successful life (i.e., verse 20c, “that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel”). A seventh takeaway is that a Christian will experience a much more blessed and abundant and content life is he or she lives consistent with what God teaches in His Word. In order to live such a life, it is important that one engage the Bible on a frequent (e.g., daily) basis. Then one must learn what the Bible teaches. Finally, one must obey what the Bible teaches.
One effective way to engage the Bible is through the Graphōble Bible Study Journal.
The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan. The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf). My goal is to briefly share my thoughts on the passage that stands out the most for me each day. For Day 160, John 4:35-36 was the passage that stood out.
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.
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