Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Shields of the Earth Belong to God

Today is the second day in our 28th week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  1 Kings 13-14; 2 Chronicles 12; Titus 2; Psalm 47.

Psalm 47:9 says, "...The shields of the earth belong to God."  This means that the things we find shelter in, that bring us protection and security, are provided to us by God.  People place their trust in all kinds of things, yet it in the end it is God who keeps His people.

When Solomon was king, he took some of his gold and had it made into shields.  Certainly these weren't functional shields, as we all know that gold is both a heavy and a soft metal, and would make a horrible metal for shield-making.  These were decorative shields, and were hung on palace walls.  1 Kings 10:16-17* says:
16 King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold; 600 shekels of gold went into each shield. 17 And he made 300 shields of beaten gold; three minas of gold went into each shield. And the king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon.
Since these shields served no defensive purpose, why did Solomon spend so much money on them?  Was he that much of a supporter of the arts?  No--these shields also made a statement.  They bragged about the both the wealth and the safety of Solomon's rule.  They highlighted the security that Solomon could provide to his people.  When his son Rehoboam turned against God, judgment fell on Judah because of his rebellion.  In this judgment, Rehoboam lost much of his treasure, including his shields.  2 Chronicles 12:9-11, which parallels 1 Kings 14:25-28, says:
So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. He took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house. He took away everything. He also took away the shields of gold that Solomon had made, 10 and King Rehoboam made in their place shields of bronze and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king's house. 11 And as often as the king went into the house of the Lord, the guard came and carried them and brought them back to the guardroom. 
By taking away his shields, God was trying to show Rehoboam that the Lord is the One who provides safety and security.  Just as surely as God give it, the Lord can take it away.  Yet even when he lost this symbol of his own security, the king had others made--this time of less valuable stuff.  This shows that whatever we can do in our own strength is never as good as what God can do by His almighty power.  Rehoboam had forgotten that God is our shield (Genesis 15:1; Psalm 3:3; 18:2; 28:7; Proverbs 30:5).  He was putting his trust in the wrong place.

God provides shields for us today--but our trust is misplaced if we look arms and armament for security.  The shield that God provides for us is found in the wisdom of godly counsel.  When Rehoboam began his reign, he rejected the wisdom of his elders in favor of the rash suggestion of the peers who had been with him in school.  Because he followed the advice of inexperienced people, he made a grave mistake that cost him his kingdom.  God provided him the shield of experienced men who could give him their wisdom, and yet he would not take refuge in their advice.

Just as God gave elders to Rehoboam, God brings people into our lives who can give godly counsel.  In Titus 2, Paul tells the young church leader:
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teachings how integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned,so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 
We can learn from the voices of those who have gone before us.  If we learn from the hard lessons they've had to learn, then maybe we won't have to make so many mistakes themselves.  We can shield one another from much pain if we're willing to teach those who are younger than us.  We can be protected from struggle if we'll only listen to those who are older than us.  We will know ultimate security if we'll trust God as our Great Shield.

Today, I wonder--where have you placed your trust?  Are you depending on something false in order to keep you safe?  Or have you trusted in God for your protection?  Are you a shield to others?  Do you offer shelter to those who could learn from you?  I pray that you'll remember that "the shields of the earth belong to God," and that God Himself is our shield.

*All scriptures taken from the ESV.

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