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Everyone loves a good story. I’m about to tell you a story as background for our message today, but I have to say… it’s not a story with a happy ending. I wish that it ended better, but it’s a sad tale.
Our story starts back about 3000 years ago. The young nation of Israel had been living in the land God had given to them for some time… somewhere between 200 and 400 years. There had been no strong united leader in the land since Joshua had led them to the promised land, though temporary rulers called judges had arisen from time to time to point the people back to God. The people had been following a cycle: sin, suffering, supplication (that is, prayer), and then salvation. Over and over again, the nation fell into sin, suffered at the hands of foreign nations, cried out to God, and were delivered for a time.
So, having grown weary of the trend, they wanted a king, someone to lead them through a family dynasty, having authority to keep them right before God, and power to keep the outside nations at bay. So God raised up a man named Saul to be king. But Saul failed as a leader, and as a man of God.
So God raised up another man, a man after His own heart, a man named David, to be king. But not all the nation wanted David as king. The northern tribes, collectively called Israel, wanted a guy named Ishbosheth, son of Saul, to be king, so they followed him. David became king of the southern tribes, collectively called Judah.
After 7 years, David finally became king of the whole nation. And he was a good king, though not perfect. But he became the best king the nation ever had, sadly. The glory days of the nation were experienced under only their 2nd king. For after David, his son Solomon ruled.
Now, Solomon started off well. Smart man, and under him the nation prospered financially. Having said that, doing well financially often leads us away from God, and causes us to forget that He is the reason for living. But for a time, Solomon was a good king. And he loved all things beautiful. He spent 7 years building the Temple of God, and another 13 years building his palace.
Let me read to you from 1 Kings 10:14-17: “The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was about 22½ tons of gold, not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the land. King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; about 7½ pounds of gold went into each shield. He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with about 3¾ pounds of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.”
So, Solomon made 200 large shields, about 7½ pounds of gold in each, and 300 small shields, each about 3¾ pounds of pure gold. That is a LOT of gold.
It’s impossible to determine for sure how much these shields would have cost, but let’s say, using an estimate of today’s gold prices… Gold sells for about $1400 an ounce. 16 ounces in a pound, 7.5 pounds per large shield, 200 large shields… The large shields would total over $33 million. And the smaller shields would total over $25 million. And that’s just the price of the gold, let alone paying the craftsmen to create such masterpieces. Close to $60 million
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