In the days of the Israelite monarchy, each king was supposed to make a copy of the law, the Torah, by his own hand so that he would have it to study from all his life. Probably many or most of the kings did not actually do this, considering how few of God’s laws they actually kept, but there is no doubt that the truly righteous and God-fearing kings like David and Hezekiah did do this, and benefited tremendously. The actual requirement in Scripture for this procedure can be found in Deuteronomy 17:18-20.
There are four reasons given as to why this is a good idea for kings, and they all come from reading the Scriptures that he has written out for himself. First and foremost, so that the king “may learn to fear the LORD his God.” As Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” Second, “to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them…” Third, “that his heart not be lifted up above his brothers.” Proverbs 16:18 comes to mind here: “Pride goeth before a fall…”
And fourth, “that he not turn aside from the commandment…that he may prolong his days in his kingdom…” Like the fifth commandment (“Honour thy father and thy mother”), this is a command given with an implicit promise. The king who wrote a copy of the law for himself and was careful to study it and do it would find himself with a long and prosperous reign and children to follow him on the throne. Few kings were diligent enough about this, but of the ones that were, David is probably the best and most well-known example. While he made mistakes, he always turned back to God and to the law in the end.
How does this affect us today? We are not rulers of countries, generally. And yet we have just as much of a need to read Scripture as those Israelite kings did, for while we may not be kings now, as Revelation 20:6 says, those who keep God’s commandments to the end and are part of the first resurrection will reign as kings and priests during the thousand years of God’s kingdom on earth and beyond. I won’t go into detail about that right now, but it is an amazing destiny and one which we should do everything we can to prepare for right now.
In other words, writing our own copy of the law is something that we can do now as part of our study. It is well known in education research that material that is experienced in multiple ways is remembered and understood better than if it is only experienced one way. An old Chinese proverb says, “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.” If we just hear or read a passage, we soon forget it. If we also write it out and read it over several times while we are writing it, we remember much more. Finally, if we apply what it says to our lives, we will understand it.
Challenge: It is not too hard to read a chapter or two per day for a Bible study. Try writing a chapter (by hand on paper, not just typing it), or several verses at least, and see how much more you remember.