WALKING WITH GOD. No.35
1 Kings 14:27,28 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. Whenever the king went to the LORD ‘s temple, the guards bore the shields, and afterward they returned them to the guardroom”
Perhaps one of the world’s greatest deceptions, being played out on a daily basis, is the deception that says, “I’m all right.” when in fact the individual knows deep down that they are not ‘all right’. The life that is being played out to the surrounding observers, family, friends or workmates, does everything it can to portray someone who is happy and in control. Life really begins when we face the truth, “I’m not all right, and I need help!” Until we come to that point, we are in fact living a life of shame. Something deep in us tells us that what we have is second best, or that we have failed, or that we need to try harder, or whatever else our past demands.
Rehoboam was king of Judah and Benjamin, a reign he had inherited from his father, Solomon. Under Solomon the nation had been great but as the years passed Solomon drifted away from the Lord and, as we’ve seen previously, the Lord took ten of the tribes from his son so that Rehoboam is left with only Judah and Benjamin. And then we read these awful words of indictment of Judah : “Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than their fathers had done. They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.” (1 Kings 14:22-24) and Rehoboam did nothing about it!
What we next read is, “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.” (v.25,26). The king of Egypt was the Lord’s way of disciplining Rehoboam and Judah; it was a humbling process. We see this sort of thing again and again in the life of Judah or Israel. While they remained close to the Lord they were secure and had peace and freedom from attack from their neighbours. When they turned from the Lord, He allowed or sent their neighbours to attack them, as a means of bringing them back to Himself, exactly in accordance with the Law (Deut 28:25)
But Rehoboam is like so many of us. He wants to carry on as normal and pretend everything is all right, so we read, “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.” (v.27) but bronze is not gold. Solomon had made these incredible solid gold shields for ceremonial purposes. They symbolized the wealth and prosperity that his wisdom had brought. Now an enemy was taken them and so Rehoboam, trying to maintain a semblance of normality, replaces them with bronze shields, because bronze is all he has left! Every time Rehoboam goes to the Temple, the guard takes the bronze ceremonial shields to accompany him. This is almost the equivalent of our Queen going to the State Opening of Parliament in a horse and cart because an enemy had taken her state coaches! This trip to the Temple is thus a walk of shame.
These shields are a constant reminder to Rehoboam of what they have lost. They didn’t have to carry shields but if they didn’t that would make it even worse, even more obvious what has happened, and so, to try and make things look normal, they carry these bronze shields. If you didn’t know any better bronze shields probably looked quite good and perhaps the next generation thought they were great – but they were not gold! Oh yes, then next generation may have come to accept them and think they were good, but Rehoboam knew the truth. He knew this was a walk of shame, he remembered the gleam of the wonderful solid gold shields of his father’s reign.
Gold or bronze? What are you living with? The Christian life is supposed to be gold. Gold represents holiness, purity, goodness, all the attributes of the Lord’s presence. That is what is supposed to be in our lives, but in its absence, like we’ve seen previously with Jeroboam, we provide substitutes to try to pretend everything is ‘all right’. Years later Jeremiah brought this accusation from the Lord, “They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jer 2:13). It was an accusation that said you have provided substitutes for Me, substitutes that are not up to the job! That’s the truth. No substitute can ever replace the reality of the Lord’s presence. That is what we need. Accept no substitutes!