Summary: Father's Day Message about Rehoboam's gold shields, and how we often replace things of value with things of lesser quality.
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 in armour for the Israelite army, just hanging on the wall.
But the story doesn’t end there. Solomon died, and with him a powerful nation. Immediately following his death, the nation had a civil war, with the northern tribes called Israel taking a fellow named Jeroboam as king, and the southern tribes (called Judah) taking Solomon’s son Rehoboam as king. This was the year 931BC.
Folks, don’t ever think that sin doesn’t have consequences. Don’t ever think that people who know God but don’t obey Him are immune to the effects of sin. The nation was divided, and their days were numbered. The northern tribes of Israel would survive for another 200 years, and the southern tribes of Judah would survive another 350 years, but their best days were now behind them. And if you tolerate sin and disobedience in your life, they will eat you alive.
Five years after Rehoboam came to power, and allowed idol worship in the land, and set up Temple prostitution, and walked away from God as the Ruler of the land, King Shishak of Egypt decided to invade the land of Israel and Judah, part of God allowing sin to take its toll. Let me read to you from 1 Kings 14:25-27 – “In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.”