Kings and the law

Modern rulers are jokers when it comes to knowing the business of governing. Most are merely lining their pockets and trying to look like absolute sovereigns. Many are so out of touch with their people and the particular prescriptions for national health the chances of them being confronted with the claims of the true God and so much as battng an eyelash or having Israelite king Josiah’s response are remote as a heatwave in Antarctica.

When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes.

2 Kings 22:11, NASB

What makes a king rip his clothes? Outrage that his people had been kept in the dark. Josiah had become king at age eight, and he is reported to have copied the ways of David. He is in his mid twenties when this incident occrurred. Egypt had raided the temple (1 Kings 14:25-27); the temple was in disrepair and Josiah was preparing to repair it (2 Kings 22:3-5). He was on the highway, with one exception. The law was not the featured light it was designed to be. Hilkiah the priest had found a coipy of the book of the law, and Shaphan the scribe had broght it to the king and was reading (a portion of?) it (2 Kings 23:8-10). King Josiah was ripping his clothes because he realized that the people had been violating it.  He had been kept in the dark about the monarch’s obligation to have a copy of the law.

Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.

Deuteronomy 17:18, NASB

“…וְכָ֨תַב ל֜וֹ אֶת־ מִשְׁנֵ֨ה הַתּוֹרָ֤ה הַזֹּאת֙…

“and he must write for himself a copy of this law”

This indicates that (a) the kings were expected to write a copy of the law, and (b) that the content was the Pentateuch (this law, at the time of Deuteronomy). In writing it he would have became familiar with the content. 

Solomon’s familiarity with this convention

The king of Israel (God or the Messiah) is not a sinner, but the kings of Israel were all sinners: the law of God is not a terror to Yahweh’s anointed.  Still, we have to make up uour minds whether wisdom in any nation’s head includes monotheism. Solomon clearly did not get it, even though he had intimacy in dream and sacrifice, and of course excellent judgment to lead a nation..

What the servants of Messiah were sure to encounter

Not one of Yeshua’s disciples in the Bible calls for loyalty to Moses. “Keep my commandents” from Yeshua could not possibly mean “Get circumcised and keep all that Moses said”. Observing all that Moses taught will eventually get around to the word of that prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18ff, Acts 3:21-22, 26) whose word is essential and final for any hopes of passing from the childish (Paul’s analog) cycle of festivals, sacrifices, food and drink and carnal (bodily) ordinances.

8) But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9) realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10) and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,” (1 Timothy 1:8-10, NASB)

Not many people are so naive as to believe that Yeshua is simply restoring Israelite kingdoms and covenants. The few who do are vociferous and certain that they alone have the orthodox view, even though in every case, their opinions derive from extra-biblical “authorities” such as visions and books. When a person runs into Messiah one finds that there is no one else in the mix as guide and help.

What the kings of Israel were sure to encounter

Law is not for justified people, no-one can claim to have kept the law, and the law is a witness against its main witnesses

Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you.” (Deuteronomy 31:26, NASB)

Go, inquire of the Lord for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us. (2 Kings 22:13, NASB)

The wisest king, without controversy, was Solomon, and we can see that attention to law was not a strong pillar in his administration. The man was wise, but not unto salvation. He was definitely not a worshipper of one God. He knew God but only as the God of his father David, who gave him a charge he took to heart with zeal, temple-building. Now one greater than Solomon has come. He brings the law to its end: Messianic atonement and Holy Spirit residence apart from the law’s hundreds of injunctions and prohibitions. His great love accomplishes all.