The campaign to select the next president of the United States will begin in earnest next year. It’s not a moment too soon for us to think about what we should be looking for.
Fortunately, the Scriptures give us some guidance. Moses, as he prepared the people of Israel to enter the land of promise, foresaw the day when the nation would choose a king for itself, and would do so with God’s blessing. “You may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose” (v. 15; all quotes from Deuteronomy 17:14-20).
A king, of course, is a nation’s chief political figure. In America, we have presidents, not kings (although we currently have a president who acts like one), and we have the rare privilege of selecting our chief political leader for ourselves. If it was incumbent that Israel’s king be a man of God’s choosing, it is equally incumbent upon us to select a president of God’s choosing.
So what criteria should we use in identifying such a man?
There are six of them.
1. He must be a patriot. “One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother” (v. 15b).
Our Founding Fathers, perhaps influenced by this passage, insisted in our Constitution that every president be a natural-born citizen. Why is this important? Because a president, just like Israel’s king, must have a profound allegiance to the people of this country, an allegiance that is rooted in his heart and soul. He must be an American first, a citizen of the world second.
We have seen over the last six years what a president looks like who sees himself as a citizen of the world first, and who puts America’s needs and interests second to whatever he perceives to be our responsibility to be good global citizens. No, we need a president of unquestioned loyalty to this country and to its people, whose primary concern is the safety and well-being of the citizens of this land.
2. He must believe in a strong national defense. “Only he must not...cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again‘“ (v. 16).
Israel was not to be dependent in any way on Egypt and its horses for its military strength. Similarly, we need a president who is determined to make our military the strongest and mightiest in the world, completely sufficient in itself to protect our national sovereignty and national interests. He must be a commander-in-chief who puts military readiness ahead of any trendy causes, such as homosexual privilege or gender equality, which erode military capability.
3. He must be a faithful husband. “And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away (v. 17a).”
It is imperative that we have a president in the White House who models for America what marriage and family are supposed to be. Given the deteriorating condition of the American family, we need a leader who shows the nation what a good husband and father does.
4. He must be a man of unimpeachable integrity. “[N]or shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold” (v. 17b).
He must be free from any hint of corruption, free from any hint that he is in public office to line his own pockets or the pockets of his cronies, and free from any hint that his views on public policy can be swayed or influenced by donors.
5. He must be a man of humility. “...that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers” (v. 20).
We cannot afford to have another example of what Democrat strategist Pat Caddell calls “a raging narcissist” in the Oval Office. We need a president who is not flushed with arrogance and hubris and conceit but a man who is humbled by the awesome responsibility of his office and has an awareness of his own limitations.
6. He must be a student of Scripture and the Constitution. “And when he sits on the throne, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law...and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law” (vv. 18-19).
We need a president who is an unapologetic man of Christian faith who reveres the word of God, immerses himself in it and is guided by it. Such a man, because he “will not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left,” will be vigorous in protecting religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and the sanctity of marriage.
The law of Moses was the constitution of the nation of Israel. Just as the king was to be a student of the constitution of his day, so we need a president who studies our Constitution, understands it, embraces it, will be guided by it, will be bound by its limitations, and will not deviate from it either to the right or to the left.
America is at a critical moment in our history. If we are to retreat from the brink of the moral abyss on which we stand, we need a president who will show us the way. Let us choose wisely.