We gain insights for life from various sources. For me, the Old Testament has been a honey hole for this. By studying the lives and circumstances that are given to us in the Old Testament, I have learned so much. An example of this is found in the story of Solomon and his son, Rehoboam. Solomon, son of David, became a great leader and a very wealthy man. The part of Solomon’s life that I’m looking at starts in 1 Kings 10:14. “Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 25 tons”. King Solomon made 200 large shields, each weighing seven and half pounds. He also made 300 shields of beaten gold, each one weighing three- and three-quarter pounds, and he put them in his palace. These were ceremonial shields and were used for special occasions, including worship.

When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took his father’s place. Rehoboam immediately ran into problems in his leadership. He lost 10 tribes and was left with only 2 tribes to lead. There are so many examples of leadership in this story, but I hasten on to the king of Egypt who was Shishak. He raided Jerusalem and took many of the treasures in that city, including the 500 shields that Solomon had made and were hanging in the palace. [1 Kings 14:25-28]

To replace this embarrassing loss, Rehoboam makes 500 new shields, but he does not have enough gold, so he makes them of brass. The ceremonies and worship continue but now, instead of shiny gold shields, they have brass shields. Gold was substituted by brass, but the show went on. Gold is replaced by brass. It reminds me of an old Burma Shave sign the I saw along the highway, “substitutes are like a girdle, there some jobs they cannot hurdle”. Substitutes are very poor substitutes.
What are the lessons to I learn from this tragic piece of history from the Old Testament? Substitutes will never replace the real thing. Rehoboam still has the 500 shields,  but they were substitutes from the magnificence of what his father had.

Do you ever feel that you have replaced what was once real, but now you only have a substitute? I’m not talking of the fiberglass bumpers and grilles on cars today that are substitutes for the chrome and metal products that were on our cars of yesteryear. I’m thinking in terms of our values, our morals, or our character. In our rush for success and happiness have we lost something? Our lives and programs still go on as usual, but they have lost the gold and there is the sound of tinkling brass. Something has been taken from us. Life still goes on at a frenetic pace, but Shishak, in Egypt, has the gold that really belongs to us.

There is an example of what I’m saying in the book of Acts. Paul had the real gold shield. On the Damascus Road, the substitute of the Pharisaic religion was replaced by an entirely new life. This new life is demonstrated in Ephesus. People were bringing their idols, shrines, and books to him; they had a giant fire where Paul burned them all. The amount of goods that went into the fire would be worth over $10,000 in modern currency. What Paul had was real gold. However, others saw this and thought they would do the same thing. They prayed over the evil spirits in the same way Paul did. The evil spirits that possessed the man they prayed over replied, “I know about Jesus, and I have heard about Paul, but who are you?” [Acts 19:15] It is of interest to me that Satan was able to detect brass from gold. Paul held on to that shield of gold until the day of his death.

Timothy gives us a pretty good description of what that shield of brass will produce in the last days. “In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, they hold a form of godliness, but they have denied its power; avoid such men as these”. The enemy has  come in and stolen our shields of gold, and left us with shields of brass. The glory has gone from what we had.
Is it possible that I can become so busy with life that the enemy comes and takes my gold shield, and I am not even aware of it? Sampson played the part of a fool. He had played with fire and become careless. The Philistines had tried to steal his gold shield and the day came when they succeeded. He lay on the lap of Delilah as he had done many times before. The Philistine came and broke his Nazarite vow by cutting his hair. Delilah awakened him, and he said, “I will go out and fight the enemy as I have in days past”, but he did not realize until it was too late, that in cutting his hair, they had taken his shield of Gold. Jesus warned us of this; “…not everyone who says unto me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven…many will come to me and say in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in your name cast out demons, and in your name we performed miracles?’ And then I will declare unto them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness’ ”. We lost what we had, and it has been replaced with brass.

The story of Rehoboam is a sad story. David, his grandfather had been such a significant ruler. He passed a Kingdom on to his son Solomon. Solomon started so well. In his early life he asks God for wisdom and God gave it abundantly. Solomon built a great kingdom. He built the Temple and he made Israel a very significant nation. When he died, he passed all of this on to his son Rehoboam. It did not take Rehoboam long before he lost everything his father had passed on to him, including the gold shields that were a part of Israel’s respect for God. In order to gain some public respect, he replaces gold with brass. Let this become a lesson to all of us. There are no substitutes for true Godliness, which gives us character and favor with God.

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