Vs. 15A: “be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses.” Today’s voting process might seem to negate this aspect entirely, but it serves as a reminder to every Bible-believing individual to not forget the responsibility of prayer – and participation - in elections.
Vs. 15B: “He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.” Although this might be thought to mirror the “native born” requirement for the US President, the principle is broader and clearly indicates the importance of upholding the values and concerns of our own culture.
Vs. 16: “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people ... to get more of them ...” Although speaking of horses, the principle is clearly one of not accruing power for oneself, and not using the office of leader in order to further one's own interests.
Vs. 17A: “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.” This is a principle reminding us that leaders should not allow themselves to be distracted by concentration on their own pleasures, as well as the importance of personal moral responsibility.
Vs. 17B: “He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.” Accrual of personal wealth must not be involved in the conduct of leadership.
Vs. 18-19: When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, … It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.” By far the longest instruction, modern day leaders need to know the law of the land and need to understand the concepts of moral law which should underlie it.
Vs. 20: “and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left...” This principle stresses the vital importance that leaders not only do not see themselves as above the law, but also that their directives do not favor their own agendas, their party or administration.
The instructions given for choosing rulers in Deuteronomy may seem antiquated and irrelevant to many, but their principles can all be easily applied today. Most of these principles have been flagrantly ignored or pushed aside by many leaders throughout political history, and the people who have suffered as a result have always been the people being ruled or led. Perhaps it will always be that way in this present world, but keeping in mind the value of these principles certainly cannot hurt in choosing our leaders – and in conducting our own lives also.