They were of immense value, and they hung for years on the walls of Solomon’s sumptuous palace in the woods. There were 300 shields in all, and each weighed three “minas” (about 10 pounds according to 1 Kings 10:17). They were made of fine gold, and at today’s value one of those shields would be worth about $160,000 dollars. Three hundred shields, then, represented a fortune of approximately $50 million dollars. The golden shields might have been to Solomon a symbol of divine protection. The Hebrew word used here for shield is the same as that used in God’s promise to Abram. “Do not be afraid, Abram: I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15:1). The meaning of the word is strength, protection, defence against an enemy.
Solomon’s reign ended in decline and there was no improvement in the spiritual condition of Judah during the reign of his son, Rehoboam. “Now Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.” (1 Kings 14:22). Their evil included the worshipping of idols in secluded places, the tolerance of homosexual acts, and many other abominations learned from the nations around. It is no surprise therefore to know of the ease with which Egypt’s king Shishak invaded Jerusalem, robbing the Temple of its treasures and stripping the walls of Solomon’s house of its 300 shields of fine gold.
Where were the guardians of the king’s domain while this was going on? What happened to the shields? Taken back to Egypt, no doubt, and used for the boastful claim of the enemy’s prowess over a weakened people of God. And what did Rehoboam do? Replace the shields? Yes, but not with fine gold. He had shields made of copper, and they did not fill the empty place on the walls of the king’s house, but were kept in the chamber of the guards. There is no record of their active use against an enemy (1 Kings 14:25-28); and no attempt appears to have been made to recover the original shields. Such was the debilitated physical and spiritual health of the king and his people.
There must be a lesson in this for those who belong to the Israel of God today (Galatians 6:16). Our battles are spiritual, and are against the hosts of wickedness guided by God’s arch-enemy, Satan. Our shields are the visible testimony to our faith in a living Lord who is able to keep us, protect us, guard us. How is this possible? By living for Him through the power of His word and the help of the Spirit.
Are our shields, the symbols of our trust in God, on display? Or have they been torn down by the enemy? Have they been replaced by something inferior which we keep handy if needed? The king of Egypt is an illustration of Satan in his control of society, “the whole world lies under the sway of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). By subtle attractions, and keeping us preoccupied with things material, he is endeavouring to break down our dependence on the Lord. He wants to deprive us of our benefits in Christ If he can snatch away our faith, our joy, our loyalty to the Truth; if he can encourage us to neglect prayer, assembly gatherings, spiritual exercises, distributing leaflets, caring for a young people’s class, and reading the word; he will replace these things of eternal value with those of less importance. It will not be long then before it is evident that he has captured our shield of fine gold.
It is so easy for spiritual anaemia to afflict us all in these demanding days with their tension and pressure. Instead of being a people capable of doing exploits, we can quickly deteriorate into a people interested only in doing a minimum. What happened to Solomon’s shields is not now of great importance; but we should know about our own shield. Is it in its place? Have I checked lately? Has it been displaced? What is filling that gap on the wall? Serious questions for us all to answer.