The King’s Own Copy, Deut 17:18-20

The King’s Own Copy of the Law

The Lord instructed Moses, in Deut 17:14-20, that when a king sat on the throne of his kingdom he was to write a copy of the law in a book.  It was to be the king’s own copy.  Specifically, he was to copy the law that was before the Levitical priests.  After he wrote his own copy, then he was to keep it with him.  And he was to read in it all the days of his life.

In the chronicles of the kings, we don’t find a record that a king ever wrote his own copy of the law.  However, when you see how much scripture David and Solomon wrote in the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, it’s likely that they had their own copies.  

The best kings, like Hezekiah, followed the Lord and kept his commandments, 2 Ki 18:5-6.  So, if they didn’t have the king’s own copy, they certainly knew God’s words.  They were instructed by the priests, as in 2 Ki 12:2.  However, commonly, they didn’t have the word of the Lord, 2 Chr 15:3.  Look what happened in Josiah’s reign in 2 Chr 34:14-21.

Each King Was to Daily Read The King’s Own Copy

To Learn To Fear the Lord

Deut 17:19.  You learn to fear the Lord when you read the Bible.  And the fear of the Lord is very beneficial.  It is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.  In it is strong confidence and the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.  

Yesterday, I talked with a 70 year old Vietnam Veteran who was with the 82nd airborne.  He had joined a book club and read 100 books in 100 months.  When he finished those, he bought a Bible and read it all the way through.  He had a question about why God commanded the Jews to kill all the inhabitants of Canaan.  I explained that God had given that land to Abraham in Gen 12-15.  It didn’t belong to those inhabitants.  Furthermore, the inhabitants had increased in sin over the four hundred years they were there.  They were committing every form of sexual perversion and were even sacrificing their children in fire to their false gods.  They had to go.

When he understood the answer he remarked, “we must fear the Lord”.   Whether you understand all you’re reading or not, this book will teach you to fear the Lord.  And the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.

To Keep All The Words of the Law

Deut 17:19.  It’s one thing to know the words of the law.  But it doesn’t do any good for you to just know them.  You must keep the words of the law.  We must walk in the perfect law of liberty, Jas 1:25.  God’s laws are not grievous, 1 Jn 5:3.  They are very good for you.  And when you keep them, the Lord blesses you.  God blessed every king who kept the commandments of God and God blessed his kingdom, as well.  They prospered and they had continual protection from their enemies.

To Keep From Lifting Up His Heart

Deut 17:20.  This is perhaps one of the greatest reasons to read your Bible.  Our deceitful hearts can be lifted up.  And the lifting up of our hearts will be our destruction.  

In Ezek 28, Lucifer, the anointed cherub, lifted up his heart because of his wisdom, v.2-4, because of his riches, v.5, and because of his beauty, v.17.  When he lifted up his heart, he fell.  God extinguished his light and he became Satan, the serpent and dragon.  Now his is a kingdom of darkness.  And his end is destruction.  

Uzziah was a king in Judah who did right in 2 Chr 26:4-5 until he lifted up his heart in v.16.  And then he was a lepere to the end of his life.  Hezekiah, the best king in Judah according to 2 Ki 18:5-6, lifted up his heart in 2 Chr 32:25.  Therefore, there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.  When Nebuchadnezzar lifted up his heart, he was deposed and they took his glory from him, Dan 5:18-20.  

You must not lift up your heart.  And staying daily in your Bible is one of the best ways to keep your heart humble.


You won’t understand everything you read in your Bible and you will encounter difficulties with certain passages from time to time.  However, when you read daily, you will learn to fear the Lord, you will be inclined to keep the words of the law, and you will keep your heart from being lifted up if you don’t let your knowledge or God’s blessings in your life puff you up.  Treat this Bible as if you were one of the kings who had to copy out the words for yourself.  Your Bible is the king’s own copy.