Is Your Worship Like Gold or Bronze?

Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy more than all that their fathers had done, with the sins which they committed.” (1 Kings 14:22, NASB95)

He [Shishak king of Egypt] took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and he took everything, even taking all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. So King Rehoboam made shields of bronze in their place, and committed them to the care of the commanders of the guard who guarded the doorway of the king’s house.” (1 Kings 14:26–27, NASB95)

The demise of Israel came quickly after the reign of Solomon. Although one could argue that Solomon’s kingdom was the pinnacle of Israel’s fame, wealth, and honor, there can be no doubt that spiritually the kingdom was a shadow of what it was under David. Solomon may have had great wealth, and there is no doubt that he beautified the kingdom and made a glorious temple, but internally there was a rot that would eventually lead the divided nation into apostasy and exile.

In 1 Kings 14, Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, watched as all of the external signs of his father’s success dissipated right before his eyes. Through a youthful foolishness he lost ten of the twelve tribes in a rebellion, and along with these he lost the favor of the people. Instead of humbling himself and turning to the Lord, Rehoboam turned to false gods and idolatry, just as his father did through the influence of foreign women he married.

As a picture of how degraded Judah had become, 1 Kings 14:26-27 mentions the shields of Solomon. More than a mere passing note of interest, the shields are a visible lesson for all that will watch and learn. In his days as king, Solomon saw gold become so abundant that it was said that silver was as nothing (See 1Kings 10:14-29). To show off this wealth, he had 200 large shields of gold, each made from about 7 1/2 lbs. of gold. Additionally, he had 300 more smaller shields made from almost 4 lbs. of gold each. Together these shields would have been fashioned out of 2,625 lbs. of gold, which for Solomon was nothing since 1 Kings 9:14 states that one year’s worth of gold income was 666 talents, or about 25 tons (50,000 lbs.) of gold! What was the purpose of these shields? Together they acted as a visible symbol of Solomon’s great wisdom and wealth.

With that insight, 1 Kings 14:27 reveals a great truth. In the face of utter humiliation as a result of his outrageous idolatry, Rehoboam chose to put on the mask of a hypocrite instead of facing the truth with repentance and humble contrition. In Solomon’s days, silver was as nothing–how much less bronze! Now Solomon’s wayward son is grasping to keep up appearances. He has replacement shields made to cover the naked walls, but not of gold, which he no longer had. Instead they would be made of bronze. Why make these shields at all? With foreign invaders from Egypt stealing their wealth and ransacking the kingdom, you would think that Rehoboam would have been more concerned with greater issues. Instead, we find him seeking to make things look the same as they did during the days of his father’s reign. Bronze shields would appear gold-like, giving the impression that nothing had changed. But they had–massively, and to a greater extend than these shields alone. A cheap substitute had taken the place of the valuable. Instead of the precious worship of Yahweh, a fake and common worship had been swapped out as if they were the same. But they are not.

Instead of playing games with God, Rehoboam should have broke. He should have seen the loss of gold and prestige as an opportunity to go back to the basics of humble worship as his grandfather David had demonstrated. David, clothed in only a linen ephod danced before the Lord, not caring about anyone else but the pleasure of his God. May we be aware of this shift in our own lives and ministries as well, never replacing the gold of true worship with a cheap substitute, because God isn’t fooled. When God is trying to get your attention, don’t double down and act like nothing is wrong. Go to God.

How Do You See Yourself?

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?”But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desirecompassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

(Matthew 9:9–13, NASB95)

How do you view yourself? Pop culture feeds us many answers that you might find coming out of your mouth. But, for those who call themselves children of the living God, how do you see yourself?

Listen to great and godly people describe themselves, and you compare your answer with theirs:

  • The Great Augustine, bishop of Hippo wrote, “Lord, save me from that wicked man, myself.”
  • John Knox, the greatest preacher of the Scottish reformation, “In youth, in middle age, and now after many battles, I find nothing in me but corruption.”
  • John Wesley, the great Methodist preacher wrote, “I am fallen short of the glory of God, my whole heart is altogether corrupt and abominable, and consequently my whole life being an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit.”
  • Augustus Toplady, the writer of the hymn “Rock of Ages” wrote, “Oh, that such a wretch as I should ever be tempted to think highly of himself. I am myself nothing but sin and weakness, in whose flesh naturally dwells no good thing.”
  • And finally, the Apostle Paul wrote of himself in 1 Timothy 1:15, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Now, I know that Dr. Phil and Oprah, and our schools, and psychologists and lots of preachers even, tell us that we need to have a high self-esteem about our worth. We need to think positively and love ourselves before we can love anything or anyone else….How’s that working for us? We have more crime and more selfishness and more laziness and self-indulgence than ever before, and people are not more happy with more stuff, but less so.

No, we need to turn to the Bible for a correct view of ourselves. Romans 3:10-12 says, “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

You see, the truth is, that people will not seek healing if they don’t know that they are sick. So, the first step in preaching the gospel to others and even ourselves is to declare this truth–Man is sinful and desperately wicked and spiritually dead. If we can grasp this and confess it before God, we can move on to respond to the good news of the gospel.

The Bible acts like a mirror revealing what our soul looks like to God. The world acts like a mirror too, but more like a fun-house mirror that distorts the truth and gives us a wrong impression about what we really look like. Don’t settle for the phony idea of who you are by looking to this world for answers. Instead open up the Bible and read about who God says you really are–both as a person who has rebelled against Him, and after being saved by Jesus Christ, as a person who has been forgiven and adopted by Him and is now His child forever. The truth matters and for the one who is willing to face the truth, heaven awaits.

The Disaster of Failing to Be Trustworthy

“Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble
is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.”—Proverbs 25:19 (ESV)

I love how picturesque the proverbs are in describing truth in simple terms. The above proverb became very real to me recently when my wife twisted her knee when she slipped. As we walked back to the car from a trip to the hospital, her knee buckled and she was in great pain. For several weeks after that accident, she had to wear a brace to prevent her knee from giving out.

And I had the experience recently of an old filling falling out of a tooth leaving an pending in my tooth that caused a crack in my tooth while I was eating leading to a piece of tooth breaking off. Until my dentist appointment I have been eating on the other side of my mouth to avoid more damage and pain.

Buckling knees and cracked teeth are sudden, painful, and unexpected. But once the weakness is revealed it is hard to place trust in those areas again until after they are proven strong again and able to do the job they were meant to do. Even then, we sometimes are reluctant to place too much on them for fear that the pain they caused might return.

When we fail in our responsibilities at the moment when we were most depended upon, the damage can be great. The proverbs says this is “treacherous” failure. The Hebrew word betrays a break in trust, where dependability, even vows of loyalty were broken to the destruction of the one who placed trust in another. The failure is pictured as a massive breach of trust.

And just like a buckled knee can send a person to the ground and a broken tooth can cause excruciating pain, so too the failures of a trusted person bring great harm to the one who was depending upon the faithfulness of another.

What do you do when you are the one who is failed and have lost trust in another? Wisdom says we should move slowly in placing trust back in the failed one. We must make sure they are trustworthy before placing the responsibility back into their hands lest we be betrayed again. This will take confrontation, confession, conversations, and re-commitment on both parties. Over time, if there is a willingness, humility, forgiveness, and love, restoration can be achieved.

How about if you are the one who was treacherous and cast aside trust? Go to those you have failed without excusing yourself and your actions. Ask for forgiveness and offer to make right what you messed up. Humbly recognize that this will take time—maybe a long time—to reestablish trust. Be open to further questions, further need to confess your failings when they are uncovered in the process, and continuing discussions about where things started to go wrong. Be aware of any self-justification on your part. Listen.

Like a faulty knee and a broken tooth, the Master Physician can bring healing to even the worst and most painful failures. But we must allow him to work in us and through us so that we can be sure that the catastrophe is not repeated, bringing greater damage and more pain next time.