Multiplying Horses – Deuteronomy 17

The genealogy of Jesus Christ can be divided in four different parts (see Matthew 1):

  • The first third or so of the lineage focuses on the immediate descendants of Abraham, a people called out to be a Kingdom of Priests for God.  Thus far, our meditations have been focused on this group of individuals, which includes some Gentile women (Rahab, Ruth) in the bloodline.  A large percentage of these meditations have focused on words of God spoken through the prophet Moses to the people. These words represent the sowing of the seeds of the Kingdom of God.
  • The middle third of the genealogy covers the kings of Israel (and the sub-kingdom of Judah), beginning with King David.  This will soon be the focus for the next set of meditations. These kings, especially David, are a type of the future coming king, Jesus Christ, who will one day return to replace the great governments of world history to rule from Jerusalem.
  • The last third of the genealogy is a series of individuals, some of whom were governors over Judah, others common people, living in the time period between the kings of Israel and the birth of Christ.
  • Lastly, we have Jesus Christ Himself, the focus of the genealogy. He came the first time as Savior for a fallen world, and will return as eternal King, reigning forever on the throne of David.

After the failure of Israel’s first king, Saul, came their first successful king, David. To prepare the nation for a king, God raised up the prophet Samuel as a spiritual leader and guide.  In a similar way, John the Baptist would later be raised up as a prophet to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus Christ.

Before the Israelites began to clamor for a king, even before they had entered their new land, Moses laid down God’s rules for the conduct of a king.  As we shall see down the road, kings are people just like the rest of us, and most of them will fall well short of what God is asking them to do.

As Moses instructs:

14 “When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren…16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ 17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.  Deuteronomy 17:14-17 (NKJV)

God’s hope is that when power and authority are given to a king, they will continue to keep God at the center of their lives.  As human beings wielding power, it is all too easy to get puffed up and prideful, putting one’s self above others who do not share in that same wealth or power, and forgetting about God.  The focus of a king can easily shift from primarily serving others to more selfish motives, such as grabbing for more and more, with a selfish desire to multiply riches and possessions. 

In fact, the future downfall of the kingdom of Israel would begin right after David’s son, King Solomon, did all of the things specifically prohibited by God.  Though starting out his reign remarkably well with tremendous wisdom, potential, strength, and riches bestowed by the Lord, Solomon was lured away from Him by multiplying wives and horses and everything else, and began the long slide towards the ultimate loss of the kingdom. Israel was eventually defeated by its enemies and carried off into exile, ending its line of kingship until it will be restored for good at the return of Jesus Christ.

Like us, none of these people were able to adequately keep the Old Covenant law, which was conditional upon complete obedience to God. Of all who have lived upon earth, only Jesus was able to live a life completely without sin. A New Covenant based upon the blameless life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ was required to be a sufficient redemptive covering for our sin. May you encounter Him today.


Where am I tempted to multiply wealth or possessions beyond those bestowed by God?

How can we better keep God at the center of our lives? Moses instructed the future kings to stay close to the word of God and not to proudly elevate themselves above Him or others.

Father God, forgive us and help us as we have turned away from You towards our own desires. Aid us as we seek to return You to Your proper place in our lives. You are rich in love and mercy towards us, even at our worst. Thank You for the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ which covers the multitude of my sins. Grant me the humility to depend upon You, who have the words of Life. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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