Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Deuteronomy
Book: Deuteronomy
Chapter: 17

All sacrifices to be perfect, Idolaters must be slain. (1-7)
Difficult controversies. (8-13) The choice of a King, His
duties. (14-20)

1-7 No Creature which had any Blemish was to be offered in
Sacrifice to God. We are thus called to remember the perfect,
pure, and spotless Sacrifice of Christ, and reminded to serve
God with the best of our abilities, time, and possession, or our
pretended obedience will be hateful to him. So great a
Punishment as Death, So remarkable a Death as Stoning, must be
inflicted On the Jewish idolater. Let all who in our Day set up
idols in their hearts, remember how God punished this crime in

8-13 Courts of Judgment were to be set up in every City. Though
their Judgment had not the Divine authority of an Oracle, it was
the Judgment of Wise, prudent, experienced men, and had the
advantage of a Divine promise.

14-20 God himself was in a particular manner Israel's King; and
if they set another over them, it was necessary that he should
choose the person. Accordingly, when the people desired a King,
they applied to Samuel, a Prophet of the Lord. In all cases,
God's choice, if we can but know it, should direct, determine,
and overrule ours. Laws are given for the Prince that should be
elected. He must carefully avoid every thing that would turn him
from God and religion. Riches, honours, and pleasures, are three
great hindrances of Godliness, (the lusts of the Flesh, the
lusts of the Eye, and the pride of Life,)
especially to those in
high stations; against these the King is here warned. The King
must carefully study the Law of God, and make that his rule; and
having a copy of the Scriptures of his own Writing, must read
therein all the days of his Life. It is not enough to have
Bibles, but we must use them, use them daily, as long as we
live. Christ's scholars never learn above their Bibles, but will
have constant occasion for them, till they come to that world
where knowledge and Love will be made perfect. The King's
Writing and reading were as nothing, if he did not practise what
he wrote and read. And those who fear God and keep his
Commandments, will fare the better for it even in this world.