God’s 5 Surprising Rules for Royal Succession

God’s 5 Surprising Rules for Royal Succession

by Bill High

Do you have a succession plan for your business?

Surveys of business owners have found that many have yet to make any concrete plans for transitioning leadership and exiting the business.

Did you know that God put together a succession plan for Israel’s kings? Even before the Israelites possessed the promised land, God knew that they’d eventually cry out for a king.

And God was particularly concerned about how the Israelites would select their kings. So he gave his people rules for succession and to guide the king’s reign.

Surprisingly, the list is short:

  1. The king should not be a foreigner; he should be from the nation of Israel. (Deut. 17.15)
  2. The king should not acquire many horses. (Deut. 17.16)
  3. The king should not acquire many wives. (Deut. 17.17)
  4. The king should not acquire excessive silver and gold. (Deut. 17.17)
  5. The king should keep a copy of the book of the law with him, and “he shall read in it all the days of his life…” (Deut. 17.19)

Some of these might seem strange rules of succession. Why not horses? Israel was strategically located at the crossroads of international powers. Accordingly, horses were a sign of military might. God was thus saying, “Don’t rely on your horses. Rely on me.”

Similarly, the acquisition of wives was in fact a strategy for military alliances. Once again, a tiny nation like Israel could do much to strengthen its borders by marriage alliances that might secure peace. On the other hand, as witnessed with Solomon, those same alliances could lead to being led astray from a pure devotion to the one true King.

Not surprisingly, God makes the same prohibition about gold and silver. A king might rely upon his wealth instead of God.

Is it any surprise that God concludes by mandating—not suggesting—that the king read God’s law “all the days of his life…”

Why? What’s the purpose of these rules for the king? Ultimately, the rules of succession might be summed up in the later half of verse 19 and into verse 20:

…that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 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.

You see, God was looking for a successor who read God’s word and “feared the Lord his God.” He was looking for reverence, obedience and humility. Each of those qualities would make for a worthy leader.

Wise words. How does your succession plan look?



Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Published May 21, 2021

Topics: A Life of Faith | Family Business

BibleFaithFamily BusinessSuccession

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