God blessed Solomon more than any other king. He blessed him with incredible wisdom, honor, power, and great abilities in organization and leadership. He poured out colossal wealth on Solomon – 1 Kings records that $1,187,200,000 of gold came into his kingdom annually.
Solomon built and organized Israel into a nation that took your breath away. He created 500 golden shields to be carried by his elite body guards. By today’s standards those shields were worth a total of $136,640,000. That’s a lot of money to spend on shields that only had decorative value. The soft gold would not stand up in battle. But even that fact says something about Solomon – He was not trusting in the shields of his bodyguards. His trust was in God. It is true that later in his life he would turn from God, but at this point God had blessed him and Solomon had completely humbled himself before Yahweh.
Let’s picture Solomon on the horizon with his 500 body guards carrying 500 golden shields. The mental image is spectacular as the sun blazes and reflects off the gold. There is a message from God in the reflection of those shields. He was saying, my presence, provision, and protection is with this nation, their trust is not in their weapons, but in Me.
Years later when Solomon’s son Rehoboam was on the throne, the King of Egypt attacked and defeated them, because Rehoboam and the nation of Israel had once again gone after false foreign gods in worship. The king of Egypt took everything, including the golden shields. King Rehoboam decided to make new shields in place of the stolen ones. But he didn’t use gold because he had none. He used bronze instead.
Just as there was a message in the shields of Solomon, of God’s presence, provision, and protection, there was a new message in Rehoboam’s shields – God’s presence, provision, and protection is gone.
Bronze is shinny like gold but it’s not gold. Rehoboam was pretending – acting like nothing had changed. The truth was that everything had change. They no longer had the presence, provision, or the protection that the gold shields represented.
Even though both metals gleam in the sunlight, there is a big difference between gold and bronze.
There is a difference in value. One large gold shield is today valued at $448,000. One large bronze shield’s value would be $80. The provision was gone.
The weight was different. Gold weighs twice the weight of bronze. Every time a guard picked up one of those light weight bronze shields he knew things were different. The guards didn’t march with the same energy in their step because they knew they were carrying cheap counterfeits. They knew they were just pretending.
Maintenance was different. The gold shields needed almost no human maintenance. The bronze shields needed constant rubbing to keep the tarnish off and the shine on.
Coin collectors have a little trick to tell the difference between a gold coin and a bronze coin. Rub the coin between your finger until it gets warm and then smell your fingers. With gold there is no odor because the metal is pure, with bronze there is a stink.
Rehoboam’s bronze shields were covered with human stink. There was a constant need for the work and effort of man to keep the shine, rather than gold that just remains shinny because it is pure.
Bronze, brass, and even copper are metals that look like gold but are just pretending. Rehoboam was pretending that the presence, provision, and protection was still there – but it wasn’t.
Much of the church is pretending to walk in gold, but in reality we are content to carry bronze trying not to notice the stink of human effort and the constant need of man centered polishing. We have exchanged gold for the bronze when we call a good feeling at church the presence of God, instead of seeking Him for a visitation by prayer & fasting that will forever change us.
We’ve exchanged gold for bronze in the area of protection. Many Christians live in fear. Josephus and Historian from the first century says this of king Rehoboam, “ instead of warlike expeditions he reigned in great quietness”. This describes many Christians who carry bronze instead of gold. Their motto is, “I don’t want any trouble”. They do little and risk nothing, because they’re not really sure God is there to deliver and defend.
Solomon’s golden shields were an indicator of where he had placed his faith. A gold shield will not stand up in battle. Gold is soft and will not defend well. Solomon wasn’t depending on those shields for his safety – he was depending on the protection of God.
Rehoboam had different thoughts. Bronze would hold up in battle. He knew he may need their protection because he knew God had withdrawn His – so he had to protect himself. Human protection. Human shine.
Solomon’s shields of gold were a product of his humility before God and asking for God’s wisdom and help to lead the nation of Israel. Through humility the presence, provision, and protection of God came.
Rehoboam’s shields of bronze came through pride, sin, and rejection of God. The presence, provision, and protection of God were removed and replaced with cheap imitation.
Have we allowed the devil to steal from us and then convince us that all is well? Where is the presence that takes our breath away? Where is the provision that fulfills all of what has been promised us in scripture? Where is the protection of God that causes us to be the most confident people on earth because we are trusting in the God who is there and will strongly support anyone whose heart is completely His.
Our websites are cool, our sound systems are top shelf, our shields are shiny, but are they gold?