Summary: Message for graduates about trading good things for lesser quality.
1 Kings 10:14-17, 14:25-28 – Stolen Gold and Second-Best Bronze
Well, let me tell you a story. It’s not for the faint of heart, though. It’s a sad story. A sad tale of a man who was robbed of his gold.
The man’s name was Rehoboam. He was the king of the land of Judah, which was part of the nation of Israel. He wasn’t a great king, and he did things on purpose that he knew would deliberately tick his people off. He inherited the kingdom from his father Solomon, who wasn’t perfect himself, but under Sol the nation prospered.
In fact, the Bible says that Solomon was earning for the nation 25 tons of gold every year. Every year. At today’s prices, that’s about $1.2 billion every year, not including what was brought in from foreign trade routes and so on. The guy was sitting pretty in bling.
And one thing he did with his gold was make some shields. The Bible says that 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, 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 say how much these shields would have cost, but let’s say, using an estimate of today’s gold prices, doing the math… probably close to $60 million in armour for the Israelite army, just hanging on the wall.
So then, Rehoboam came along and became the king. Rehoboam figured that he didn’t have to do what his father did, and went so far in the other direction that the nation was in turmoil.
And round about this time, other nations started looking at Rehoboam’s kingdom and starting thinking that they’d like a piece of it. One king, King Shishak from Egypt, figured he’d invade the nation to relieve them of their treasures gathered while Solomon was the king.
Shishak invaded the land, and you know what he did. He went to the palace, and saw the gold, and grabbed it. I mean, the shields were just hanging there, doing nothing, not being used in the war or anything. 500 big pieces of solid gold, almost begging to be stolen. So Shishak plundered the place and went home with stolen gold.
And Rehoboam found out. Here’s what the Bible says at this point: “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.” Rehoboam wasn’t earning the bling his dad had, so he replaced the gold shields with something else. Bronze. Worth about $2 a pound. Rehoboam’s shields went from being worth about $60 million to about $5000. What a loss for the king and his kingdom.
I told you it was a sad tale. But you know… The saddest part of this whole tale is that some of you are going to be tempted to leave school and have the exact same thing happen to you. Except your temptations won’t be about losing anything as cheap as gold. You’re going to be tempted to lose something much more costly. 1 Peter 1:7 says that your faith is of much greater worth than gold, and you will face temptations to let your faith be stolen right out from under your noses.
I know I’m speaking more to those of you who have grown up in the church, but it applies to all of us. We are all tempted to do away with the values and morals we were brought up with.
But how could that happen? I know, some of you are thinking, “There’s no way it would happen to me.” I wish I could say that, but it really can happen to anyone. Katy Perry and Jessica Simpson first started out singing Christian music, and Britney Spears went on record to remain a virgin until marriage. Anyone can turn their back on what they say they believe.
Having your faith stolen can happen to you the same way that Rehoboam lost his gold shields. First, the shields were inherited. They didn’t originally belong to him; Rehoboam got them from someone before him. Likewise, some of you don’t have your own faith. You got it from your parents, or your grandparents, or your Sunday school teachers, or your youth leaders, or whoever. You believe because someone tells you to. It’s not really your faith, just what someone gave you.
Another thing about Rehoboam’s shields: they weren’t in use. They were hanging on the wall, for crying out loud, in the middle of a battle. Just hanging there, doing nothing. Some of you have a faith that you don’t do anything with. You come, you soak up what others give you, you listen to what people teach you, but you don’t do anything with it. You don’t obey, you don’t apply, you don’t serve, you don’t help, you just… sit there, doing nothing, with your faith almost begging to be stolen.