Deuteronomy 17 deals with three subjects. The first relates to the sacrificing of animals. The second subject pertains to the administration of justice toward those who violate the covenant by giving allegiance to other gods. Moses also advises local judges to appeal to the Levitical priests at the central sanctuary or to the judge in office in order to seek guidance when some cases seem too difficult for them to handle. The last subject pertains to the establishment of an earthly king over Israel once the conquest is over and the people live in the Promised Land. The king should be chosen from among the Israelites and should not imitate the other ancient Near Eastern kings who often multiply horses, wives, or silver and gold for themselves. Israel’s king should not be a king who forces others to serve him. Instead, the king is to observe all the covenantal laws, to fear the LORD his God and to serve Him alone. This means that rather than being a tyrant, such a king would be a servant to God’s people. He would be a servant king, leading the people to love their neighbors as themselves and see justice done for all.
Deuteronomy 17 can be outlined as follows:
-Principles Concerning Flawed Sacrificial Animals (Deut. 17:1)
-Principles Concerning Punishment of Covenant Violators (Deut. 17:2 – 13)
-Dealing with Pagan Worshippers (Deut. 17:2 – 7)
-Dealing with Complex Issues (Deut. 17:8 – 13)
-Principles Concerning Kings (Deut. 17:14 – 20)
Along with prohibiting pagan objects in or near the central sanctuary, Moses tells the Israelites to avoid offering any defective animal to the Suzerain (Ruler) God because this is a detestable thing to Him.
Moses describes the method of administrating justice when Israel enters Canaan, the Promised Land, in the case of someone who has transgressed God’s covenant by giving allegiance to other gods
Moses advises local judges to appeal to the Levitical priests or to the judge in office at the central sanctuary in order to seek guidance when some cases seem too difficult for them to handle.
Moses instructs the Israelites concerning kingship once they have settled in the Promised Land. That king should be chosen by God Himself from among the Israelites and should not be self-centric.
After listing the things that the Israelite king was to avoid, Moses then described what he was supposed to do—study the law of the LORD and observe all the covenantal laws in order to learn to fear the LORD his God and to serve Him alone