Shields of Gold and Bronze
1 Kings 14:27
And king Rehoboam made in their stead brazen shields, and committed them to the hands of the chief of the guard…

Solomon in his reign decorated his court of justice, called the house of the forest of Lebanon, with three hundred shields of beaten gold. These shields of gold hung there until his son Rehoboam's reign, when Shishak, King of Egypt, came up and pillaged Jerusalem. When he had taken these golden shields away, Rehoboam made for their empty places shields of brass or copper; and whatever trouble he may have taken to secure the shields of gold, he committed his brazen shields to the care of a trusty guard. "And when the king went into the house of the Lord, the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard-chamber."

1. The kingdom of Israel was a figure of that real kingdom which every man possesses — himself, with some good or evil principle regnant over its thoughts and desires, its life and aims. And this kingdom may be like the kingdom of Solomon, a realm regulated by a noble and wise power, and rich in the resources of a good and capable nature. Its protecting and inspiring principles may be as pure and as beautiful as shields of gold; justice and innocence, mercy and truth set up like shining shields within its inmost sanctuary. But if human life has any lesson more sad than another it is that which teaches that men often depart from their purest and best principles, and permit lower and less noble motives to guide them. Many men begin life with a real desire to become useful and a blessing to the world, who afterwards become mere seekers after wealth or pleasure. The bright, generous youth grows into the hard and selfish man; the frank, sympathetic, and lovable spirit shrivels up into the narrow, suspicious, grasping, and unloving seeker after self. A process of transmutation goes on, but not of baser metal into gold, but of gold into copper or bronze. This incident is a picture of this decline from high principle to something less noble and unselfish; it is the emblem of that change too common with us, from gold to brass.

2. There is one side of Rehoboam's energy in making shields of copper that pathetically resembles our own sometimes — that which displays the haste and eagerness with which men hasten to conceal the loss of their highest feelings; how strenuously they strive to preserve the appearance of principle, of magnanimity, and of honour, when they have lost their essential spirit; how strictly they adhere to the forms of godliness when often its life is entirely gone! Burnished bronze is substituted for pure gold, and it often looks like gold and passes for it, but it lacks the true ring and the unsullied lustre of the genuine metal none the less. Yet it is important for us to learn that the substitution of copper for gold is a right thing when our gold is gone, if we do not deceive ourselves into the belief that our bronze is gold, for the loss of inward innocence and purity of motive can, at least, be partly atoned for by the steady pursuit of outward goodness and righteousness. It is sad, indeed, to depart from the best principles that we possess, but it is far more sorrowful not to repair our loss by the pursuit of some lesser good. Sometimes goodness seems instinctive, and we cannot do wrong, because it fills us with an unconquerable horror; but when such feelings fail, it is wise to resist evil from much lower motives rather than yield ourselves willingly to sin. If we cannot hearken to the voice of love, it is well for us to listen to the word of command; if full desire should fail to move us to do right, then it is wise to use the compulsion of law and obedience.

3. Many of our deepest and purest feelings do not seem able to bear the stress of this hard world. We quickly lose many of the sweetest and holiest feelings that were stored in our hearts in childhood; the teachableness, the peacefulness and humility, the sense of the Divine nearness, and our dependence upon our Heavenly Father; our reverence for truth and goodness, and our instinctive love of the right, are apt to fade away beneath the harsh light of this world of sin; but if our shields of gold should go, there is wisdom in making shields of copper; fitting up our minds with harder and lower principles; determining to obey the law of God; determining, at least, to keep our conduct pure; our hands, if not our hearts, clean; and doing our duty faithfully amongst men. It is Shishak, King of Egypt, the worldly principle, the principle of this life and its comforts, that robs us of our golden shields. We become engrossed with our earthly life, with its physical pleasures and pains, with its present hopes and disappointments, and the higher forces and influences lose their authority over us; what is better then, to use in preserving our religion, than those lower, but most needful, principles that bid us control our earthly and outward lives by a Divine law and force, that make religion a duty we owe to God, to ourselves, to our fellow-men, and unswerving fidelity to right our fixed course, because we must suffer and perish by any other way?

4. Men often make the mistake of giving up altogether their faith, their religion, their early principles and hopes, because they lose their charm, because they seem remote from their worldly daily life; but this is losing their shields altogether; they are depriving themselves entirely of what they might possess under another form; they should seek to make these things at least a check upon their lives, and follow what is right and good from a sense of duty if not from love. It is strange how precious such things become when we cling to them thus; it is easy indeed to lose the habit of prayer, which was once a pleasure to us; or the habit of attendance at the house of prayer, which was once a joy, when some fresh and more worldly influences come upon us; but it is remarkable how soon prayer and worship become a joy again, when we persevere in their use, and persist against our will in their practice. It is easy to lose our golden shields, but if we make for ourselves shields of copper, and guard them steadfastly and carefully, they will at length be transmuted into fine gold, for it is ever he that doeth the works that knows, and finds, and loves the doctrine. The pathway back to purity of heart is by purity of life; to the love of God's commandments by obedience to them; to faith, and joy, and trust in heavenly things by steadfast duty to their laws in all we do below; and the method by which God restores to us our treasures of gold is by making us faithful over our treasures of bronze, for he that is faithful over a few things shall be ruler over many things.

(W. F. Stonestreet.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king's house.

WEB: King Rehoboam made in their place shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who kept the door of the king's house.

The Entailments of Sin
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