Deuteronomy 17

Talks for Growing Christians

Rules for Law Courts and Future Kings

Deuteronomy 17

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Lesson Number 17

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Judges in Israel were to follow strict rules of justice.
  2. Kings of Israel were to follow strict regulations in office.

Practical Application

  1. Read the Bible all the days of your life.


  1. What is the context of Deuteronomy 17? (Remember there were no chapter divisions in the original Hebrew text.)
  2. Why was the regulation about defective sacrifices (verse 1) included in this passage?
  3. Give two reasons stoning was the method of execution for the sin of idolatry.
  4. Describe what was in essence a supreme court in Israel (verses 8-13).
  5. What was God’s intent regarding a king in Israel?


  1. The context is laws against false gods and false religious activity
  2. 1. Because this was part of the Law, someone had to judge when an animal was defective.
    2. To give anything less than your best to the Lord was a step towards idolatry.
  3. 1. It clearly set this death penalty apart from any kind of human sacrifice. This was justice.
    2. Stoning ensures that all the people were involved in carrying out the sentence of judgment. No one could excuse themselves from being involved in maintaining justice. Public execution by the people was a way of having everyone acknowledge that God’s laws were right and just.
  4. Cases that were too difficult for local judges to handle were brought to Jerusalem where, in essence, a supreme court was set up with at least one chief judge and one chief priest to decide the case. The decision of this supreme court was final and considered the will of God.
  5. God’s original intent was that Israel would be a theocracy – directly ruled by God. He would be their king and they would be a kingdom of priests. But God knew that the nation would spiral downhill during the time of the judges and want a king like the other nations.


  1. We see in Deuteronomy 17:7 that the witness in a case of idolatry had to be the first to cast the stone. Describe why this was a safeguard against false accusations. What can it teach us about accusing others?
  2. Discuss the regulations that God laid out for the kings of Israel (verses 14-20). Which requirement stands out to you the most?


  1. How do you stay humble, obedient, and reverent before the Lord? How do you practice teaching your children the right way of life? Read the Bible all the days of your life, so that you know it thoroughly and it characterizes your whole way of life – as a person and as a parent.

Key Verses

  • “When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.” Deuteronomy 17:14-17

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