When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. — Deuteronomy 17:18-20
One of the most fascinating requirements for Israel’s king was that of making a personal copy of the law. Can you imagine a head of state of any modern nation spending time in their office making handwritten copies of legislation? We would expect many other important governmental activities to take precedence over the chore of copying the law.
In Israel, however, no responsibility was more important than allowing God’s Word to permeate the king’s mind and heart. His commitment to God and obedience to God’s law were essential to his effectiveness as a leader.
In a technological age that requires instant communication to keep up with fast-paced business, we have grown accustomed to skimming, speed-reading and glancing over summaries. We rarely take time to allow written words to sink deep into our hearts. Often we bring these fast-paced habits to our Bible study as well, missing much of what God wants to say to us.
Something happens when we slow down long enough to copy God’s Word, literally word for word, onto a page or journal. We discover features about familiar stories that we’ve never noticed before. Phrases we’ve taken for granted suddenly stir questions or break open with new meaning. Images we’ve skimmed over in the past beckon us to reflect upon them. Truths we’ve avoided can no longer be neglected.
The act of copying the law brought specific benefits to the king and the people he served. He learned to fear and obey the Lord and received instruction on how to live humbly as God’s servant. As he copied the law, the king was repeatedly reminded of the blessings of following God and the dreadful consequences of turning away. When the king copied the law, the greatest blessing of all came to those who came after him, for the king could then pass on to them the legacy of God’s grace.