Like a Bad Pancake

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Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned. Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it; yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it. And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him for all this. (Hosea 7:8-10)

God likes to talk in pictures. All through the Bible, God uses word-pictures to tell us how He sees things. Hosea chapter 7 is filled with word pictures describing the sinful character of ancient Israel in the days of the Prophet Hosea. In this chapter, God says Israel was like:

– A thief, a band of robbers
– An adulterous wife
– A hot oven
– A silly dove

But my favorite word-picture from Hosea 7 is found in verse 8 through 10, where God called Israel a cake unturned. The idea is of a “half-baked” cake. In that day, bread was often prepared as a cake that was cooked on both sides, something like a pancake. In thinking they could serve both the Lord and idols, Israel was like an unturned pancake – burned on one side and uncooked on the other.


This vividly describes the spiritual and moral condition of many people. They are overexposed to some things – perhaps the things of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Yet they are underexposed to other things – the things of God and His Spirit. Therefore, they are like a cake unturned. If you have ever made pancakes, you know what can be done with cakes that are burned on one side and uncooked on the other – nothing. You can’t fix it by flipping it over, because the one side is still burned. In the same way, when someone is overexposed to the world and underexposed to God, God can’t do much with that person.

To describe the self-deception of Israel, Hosea used another word-picture: “Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it.” In Hosea’s day, Israel was as foolish as an old man who thought and acted like he was still young. If you have ever seen the type, you know what Hosea meant. We think it is a joke when an old, gray-headed man dresses in the most modern fashions and uses the slang of young people. We wonder, “Who does this old guy think he is fooling?” God thinks the same thing about us when we deceive ourselves about our spiritual condition.

Considering how easily we deceive our self, and how our sin can be apparent to everyone but us, Israel’s condition wasn’t unusual. It was said of Samson after Delilah cut his hair: “But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him” (Judges 16:20). This is where the people of Israel were and where some followers of God are today. They are far from God and already suffering the effects, but they can’t see it. Ask God to open your eyes today – not only to see Him, but also to see your true spiritual condition. Seeing both clearly make the path to true spiritual health.

Click here for David’s commentary on Hosea 7

Crowning Kings

A King Like Jesus – and His Helpers

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Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice. (Isaiah 32:1)

It is a wonderful promise: Behold, a king will reign in righteousness. Yet it is important to remember that Isaiah the prophet made this promise in a certain context. In the previous chapter, God assured the rulers and people that the Assyrians would be judged and Judah would be delivered. But God didn’t want only to remove the threat; He also wanted to bless Judah with a righteous king. Therefore this promise was made.

Crowning Kings

The kingdom of Judah had endured bad kings, so it was a great promise: A king will reign in righteousness. In some sense, King Hezekiah fulfilled this prophecy. It was written of him: “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done… He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses” (2 Kings 18:3, 5-6). That certainly describes a king who reigns in righteousness.

Yet when we read the words, a king will reign in righteousness we also recognize that ultimately Hezekiah was a picture of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Jeremiah 23:5 announced this about our Messiah: “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.”

So this promise may well have had its original reference to Hezekiah and the godliness and success of his reign. Nevertheless, Hezekiah and his reign was in some ways a picture of Jesus and His ultimate kingdom. We can say with the Puritan writer Matthew Poole, “So this prophecy looks through Hezekiah unto Christ.”

We also notice the second part of the promise: and princes will rule with justice. It wasn’t enough – and it is never enough – to have a righteous king. The king must have helpers (here called princes) beside him, who will also rule with justice. Hezekiah had such loyal princes, such as Eliakim, Shebna the scribe, the elders of the priests, and Isaiah himself (as described in 2 Kings 19:2).

These men were not princes in the literal sense of being sons of King Hezekiah. The Hebrew word for princes can mean any ruler under a king; simply, someone who helps the king and carries out His orders under His authority.

Think about it for a moment. If Hezekiah, the righteous king, points to Jesus, then who are Jesus’ princes? We can say that His people are His princes and princesses! Read carefully 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Or again at Revelation 5:10: “And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.

This is a high and glorious destiny that God has for His people in ages to come. Such a high and glorious destiny needs a special preparation. We should care about faithfulness and justice right now; not only for the moment, but also because the present moment has a wonderful purpose in the world beyond. We are in training to be “princes,” faithfully ruling with King Jesus. We can think about this destiny, and thank God for how He prepares us for it.

Click here for David’s commentary on Isaiah 32

ladder to nowhere

The Successful Failure

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“In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah. He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maachah the granddaughter of Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.” (1 Kings 15:1-3)

The line of kings over Israel began with Saul, but he disqualified himself, so the dynasty of Saul ended with Saul – he was a one-king-dynasty. Then came David, who was perhaps Israel’s greatest ancient king. Next was Solomon, the son of David and the one who built the glorious temple.

ladder to nowhere

Yet after Solomon came a disaster in the name of Rehoboam. He sunk the kingdom into carnality and civil war, and because of the division soon there were two kingdoms from the twelve tribes of Israel. The king described in 1 Kings 15:1-3 was the son of Rehoboam and he sat on the throne of the southern kingdom, called Judah. That is why we read “Abijam became king over Judah.” This son of Rehoboam only reigned three years, showing that God did not bless his reign.

From the comparing this account with 2 Chronicles 13 we learn that Abijam knew something of the Lord, and he knew how to preach – but he did not uproot the idolatry and sexual immorality that was introduced by Rehoboam. The successor of Abijam (Asa) removed the centers of the sexually-charged idolatry that were so common in the land (1 Kings 15:12-13).

“His heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.” This was the real problem with Abijam’s reign – his lack of a real life or relationship with God. King David sinned during his reign, but his heart stayed “loyal to the Lord his God.” The same could not be said of Abijam.

2 Chronicles 13 fills in more interesting details about the reign of Abijam (called Abijah in 2 Chronicles). It tells us how there was war between Jeroboam of Israel and Abijam of Judah, and how Abijam challenged Jeroboam on the basis of righteousness and faithfulness to God. Jeroboam responded with a surprise attack, and victory seemed certain for Israel over Judah – but Abjiam cried out to the Lord, and God won a victory for Judah that day. 2 Chronicles 13:18 says of that war, “Thus the children of Israel were subdued at that time; and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord God of their fathers.” God blessed Abijam’s reign even when it seemed that he didn’t deserve it.

Yet Chronicles also tells us his standing at the end of his brief reign: “But Abijah grew mighty, married fourteen wives, and begot twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters” (2 Chronicles 13:21). In the midst of his victory and good leadership for Judah, he never had the relationship with the Lord he should have had.

We could say that Abijam is a classic example of something more and more common today: the successful failure. He both succeeded and failed at the same time. You might say that he climbed the ladder of success and got to the top – only to find that that ladder leaned against the wrong building. Abijam thought that the most important thing in life was being a good king; he missed what really mattered most: his personal life with God. Don’t make the same mistake in your own life.

Click here for David’s commentary on 1 Kings 15


Not Ashamed at His Coming

“And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1 John 2:28)

Have you ever arrived at a destination and been disappointed in the result?


A police officer in Connecticut noticed a speeding car that matched the description of a robbery getaway car. He started pursuit, and during the chase, the suspect made a wrong turn – into the MacDougall Correctional Institution, a high-security prison. He then jumped from his car and ran into the front office. “I believe he thought it was a mall,” said the police officer. “But I’ve never seen too many malls with a razor wire across the top.”

In 1 John 2:228, John presented a challenging idea. When we arrive at our eternal destination, some may be disappointed in the result. When Jesus returns, some people will be afraid, because they never knew Jesus at all. But among those who know Him, some will not be afraid, they will be ashamed before Him at His coming. They will realize that they have lived worldly, unfruitful lives. In one moment, the understanding will overwhelm them that whatever else they accomplished in life, they did not abide in Him as they could have.

Paul the Apostle spoke of those who are barely saved: “he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15). There are those who, for at least a moment, the coming of Jesus will be a moment of disappointment rather than glory. It might only be a moment; but suffering loss or to be ashamed are not ideas we want to connect in any way to our meeting with Jesus.

Some might say, “What difference does it make? As long as we make it to heaven, we’re good.” Not really. How narrow is the distance between “barely saved” and “not quite saved”? When one asks, “How little can I do and still make it to heaven?” or “How far can I stray from the Shepherd and still be part of the flock?” they then ask some pretty dangerous questions.

We wait for the return of Jesus, and want to be ready for him. But we remember the absolutely best way to be ready for His return. The best way to be ready isn’t to be a master of every prophecy in the Bible. The best way to be ready isn’t to retire to a monastery, away from the wicked world.

John 2:28 says it simply: If you want to be ready for the return of Jesus, and know that you will not be ashamed before Him at His coming, then abide in Him. Live in Jesus. Make Him, and not yourself, the focus of your life. Then, no matter what hour Jesus comes for you – you will be ready, and unashamed to stand before Him.

Want to be ready for the return of Jesus? Live in Him.

Click here for David’s commentary on 1 John 2

Lamb for Sacrifice

They Will Not Find Him

With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the LORD, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them. (Hosea 5:6)

In the days of Hosea, ancient Israel knew they were expected to bring animal sacrifice to Yahweh, both for atonement of sin and for fellowship with God. Yet it was possible to perform the action of sacrifice without a heart or life sacrificed to God – to make sacrifice an empty ritual. When Hosea spoke to Israel, their worship was mainly empty rituals.

Lamb for Sacrifice

We see this in the words, They shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find Him.

A few verses before this, God described their superficial repentance: they do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God (Hosea 5:4). When they made such superficial gestures of repentance, they will not find Him.

There is a big difference between superficial religious gestures and a genuine turning of the heart towards God. In a moment of crisis someone may turn to God for relief – but have no real intention of surrendering their life to Him.

In many ways today, people think they are seeking God when they really only make a superficial investigation. For example, a man might say, “I grew up in the Baptist church and couldn’t find God there. So, I went to the Methodist church and couldn’t find God there. Then I went to the Pentecostal church, but couldn’t find God there. Now I’m at the Presbyterian church and can’t find God.”

This man may imagine that he searched hard after God, but that could well be an illusion. The truth could be that he is running away from God. When God started to get close at the Baptist church, he left it and became a Methodist. When God started to get close at the Methodist church, he became a Pentecostal. This man followed the same pattern in each place – a superficial search for God that backed away when he really began to get close to God. Our sinful, fleshly nature doesn’t mind religion and religious ritual – but it does whatever it can to keep us from really drawing close to God.

God does not reward this kind of superficial seeking. It might fool everyone else, but it doesn’t fool God. Therefore, Hosea announced the sad verdict: He has withdrawn Himself from them. It can happen. We can be so set in our sin and rebellion that God just leaves us to ourselves. Usually we don’t even notice at first, but when we call upon the Lord and do not find Him, then we start to see the result of pushing God away.

Apart from a real relationship with God based on faith, religious traditions and works can’t make us right with God. You may be frustrated because you seem to do so much for God, yet it seems that you not find Him. Stop relying on empty rituals and come in faith. Let the promise of Jeremiah 29:14 be true for you: I will be found by you, says the LORD.

Click here for David’s commentary on Hosea 5

New Year Predictions

New Year Predictions

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

At the start of a new year people offer all sorts of predictions. I believe we could take this statement from Jesus as a prediction for the year 2018 – or any year. See what Jesus predicts for this coming year.

New Year Predictions

First, In the world you will have tribulation. You can count on it – you will face tribulation this year. The ancient Greek word translated tribulation has the idea of stress or pressing. You will face stressful and pressing times this year, and Jesus promised it would be so. You will have a time of rest and unending happiness – but that is for heaven, not for earth. When we become followers of Jesus Christ we may bring fewer problems upon ourselves, but we definitely still have them.

Understanding this removes a false hope. Struggling Christians often hope for the day when they will laugh at temptation and life will be one effortless victory after another. We are promised struggle as long as we are in this world; yet there is peace in Jesus. Your current area of struggle may one day pass away, but after that there will be new territory to conquer for God.

Second, we are promised something greater than tribulation: Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. In this Jesus shouted out the truth of His victory. It’s an amazing statement from the Man about to be arrested, forsaken, rejected, mocked, tortured and executed. Judas seemed to overcome Him. The religious authorities seemed to overcome Him. Pilate seemed to overcome Him. The mob shouting “crucify Him” seemed to overcome Him. The soldiers supervising His crucifixion seemed to overcome Him. Even death and the grave seemed to overcome Him. But their seeming victory did not last long. The glory of the resurrection made it clear that Jesus could truly say, I have overcome the world.

Knowing all this, Jesus made a sincere offer. He offered us the gift of good cheer for the tribulation we must face. The idea of that phrase is really more “take courage” than “be cheerful.” We can take courage, knowing that Jesus has overcome the world.

Remember the circumstances surrounding this opening statement to the verse: These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. This offer of peace was made in the most unlikely circumstances. At that very minute, Judas met with Jesus’ enemies to plot His arrest. Jesus knew that He would be arrested, forsaken, rejected, mocked, humiliated, tortured and executed before the next day was over. We think that the disciples should comfort Him – yet Jesus had peace for Himself and enough to give to others.

Finally, notice that Jesus did not promise peace, but He offered it. He said, you may have peace. People can follow Jesus yet deny themselves that peace. We gain the peace Jesus offered by finding it in Him. Jesus said, that in Me you may have peace. We won’t find real peace anywhere else other than in Jesus.

This is your year. We can predict tribulation. We can look back on Jesus overcoming the world. When we really receive His victory as our own, we can have peace. That’s one prediction sure to come true.

Click here for David’s commentary on John 16

Mary holding Jesus

A Promise for Near and Far

This week’s devotional is taken from a free e-book titled Christmas Thoughts. Click here to download your free copy.

Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.” (Isaiah 7:13-16)

Isaiah cried out against the rulers of Judah. They treated other people poorly, but they treated the Lord even more poorly. To rebuke their lack of trust, Isaiah promised a sign. This promise became one of the most famous prophecies in the Bible: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you as sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Beyond being famous, this word from Isaiah 7 also illustrates a principle of prophecy, that prophecy may have both a near fulfillment and a far fulfillment.

Mary holding Jesus

The near fulfillment of this prophecy centered on Ahaz, Jerusalem, and the attack from Israel and Syria. For Ahaz, the sign concerned a time span – before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. Simply put, God promised Ahaz a sign promising that within a few years, both Israel and Syria would be crushed. This was a sign of deliverance to Ahaz.

The far or ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy goes far beyond Ahaz, to announce the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

We know this passage speaks of Jesus because the Holy Spirit says so through Matthew: Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

We know this passage speaks of Jesus because the prophecy is addressed not only to Ahaz, but also to David’s entire house (O house of David!).

We know this passage speaks of Jesus because it says the virgin shall conceive, and that conception would be a sign to David’s entire house. Those who deny the virgin birth of Jesus like to point out that the Hebrew word translated virgin (almah) can also be translated as “young woman.” The idea of these critics is that Isaiah simply said that a “young woman” would give birth, not a virgin. While the near fulfillment may have reference to a young woman giving birth, the far or ultimate fulfillment clearly points to a woman miraculously conceiving and giving birth. This is especially clear because the Old Testament never uses this word in a context other than virgin and because the Septuagint translates it categorically virgin (parthenos).

We know this passage speaks of Jesus because it says He will be known as Immanuel, meaning “God with Us.” This was true of Jesus in fact, not only as a title. Immanuel speaks both of the deity of Jesus (God with us) and His identification and nearness to man (God with us).

Jesus is truly Immanuel, God with us. This is the great message of Christmas – that God the Son added humanity to His deity and walked with us. He shared the human experience to the fullest, because He was fully human. Though as far as we know He was never called by the name “Immanuel,” He certainly fulfilled the meaning of the name.

The question is, “Is Jesus God with you?” Remember the promise of James 4:8: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Click here for David’s commentary on Isaiah 7

Left Alone

Let Alone

Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone. (Hosea 4:17)

After the people of God split into two nations – Judah and Israel, the largest and most influential tribe in the northern kingdom was Ephraim. Therefore, it isn’t unusual to find the prophets addressing the nation of Israel as “Ephraim.” Here in Hosea 4:17, we have a vivid – and tragic – example of this address: Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.

Left Alone

When the people of God went after idols, it wasn’t because they got a thrill out of bowing down to a statue. It was because the longed for the things the idols represented. Baal was the weather god, and in an agricultural community, farmers often felt they needed to make the weather god happy to ensure rain. Astoreth was the goddess of sex and fertility. People “worshipped” her for the sake of illicit pleasure with a temple prostitute or to appease her for more fertility in the family, flocks, or fields.

When the people of God went after idols, there was rarely a conscious rejection of the Lord God. More often, they just believed they were “adding” the worship of a local deity to their worship of Yahweh. In their minds they said, “We still love the Lord, it’s just that we also want to honor these other gods.” But the Lord God of Israel would have none of it. When He saw that Ephraim was joined to idols, He pronounced His judgment: Let him alone.

On the face of it, it seems like a pretty mild judgment. Let him alone – it doesn’t seem very tough. Most criminals would be happy if the police and courts would just leave them alone. Any debtor would be thrilled if their creditors simply left them alone. But when God leaves us alone, it is judgment.

In the case of ancient Israel, it was judgment because God knew what was coming. When the mighty Assyrian army comes against them, they may fight for themselves – God will let him alone. When a crisis like that comes, suddenly we don’t want God to leave us alone. We desperately beg for His help. But sometimes God says, “You didn’t want Me, so I will respect your wishes. You handle this one on your own.” That’s a bad place to be in.

We don’t want God to leave us alone because we need Him to protect us against our spiritual enemies. Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat, but Jesus did not leave Peter alone to face the attack. Jesus prayed for Peter, and he emerged victorious (Luke 22:31-32).

We don’t want God to leave us alone because we need Him to protect us against ourselves. Left to ourselves, with our own sinful hearts, we will surely drift away from the Lord. All God must do to make certain a man goes to ruin is to simply let him alone. Our prayer should always be, “Lord, don’t leave me alone. Keep working on me.”

In fact, He never leaves us. It’s just that sometimes He will respect our desire to be left alone. At the end of it all, if you don’t want God to leave you alone, then don’t leave Him alone. Pursue God like the widow who wouldn’t quit (Luke 18:3-5) and you’ll never have to worry about being left alone.

Click here for David’s commentary on Hosea 4

Chariots and Horsemen

Chariots, Horsemen, or the Lord?

Dear Reader of Inspiration by Email: This quick note is a reminder that the non-profit work of Enduring Word is donor supported. I appreciate your prayerful consideration of a generous year-end gift to support our work of providing free Bible resources world-wide. To give, please click here.  Thank you – David Guzik


Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD! (Isaiah 31:1)

The threat was real and was approaching Jerusalem fast. It was the mighty Assyrian army, infamous for its cruelty and destruction. Because of this threat the leaders of Judah felt they had to do something, but sadly they did the wrong thing. More precisely, they were wrong in what they did and wrong in what they did not do. The Prophet Isaiah confronted both wrongs in this single verse.

Chariots and Horsemen

The first wrong was the sin of trusting in Egypt and their military might. The second wrong was the sin of not looking to the Holy One of Israel. Therefore he said, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots.” God had called the tribes of Israel to a very special relationship with Him, and He promised to protect them in the Promised Land as they trusted in Him. Yet in this circumstance, the leaders of the Kingdom of Judah found it easier and better to go down to Egypt for help instead of trusting the God who was already with them.

To be fair, Judah felt they had a reason to trust in chariots. They looked at the chariot count of Egypt saw that they are many. So, surely many chariots could save Judah from Assyria and be their deliverance!

They also felt they had a reason to trust in horsemen. They inspected the horsemen of the Egyptian army and saw that they are very strong. Surely the strong horsemen of Egypt would deliver them!

While they could find these two reasons, yet they couldn’t seem to find a reason to trust in the Lord. It is important to see that in a sense they did not abandon faith. We might say that everybody lives by faith. Here, the leaders of Judah had plenty of faith, but they put that faith into the chariots and horsemen of Egypt.

In this sense faith is simply part of the human condition. Financial wizards trust market forces. Military leaders trust bombs and weapons. Scientists trust the natural order. According to the same pattern, Jerusalem’s leaders trusted in Egypt.

It makes us think carefully about ourselves. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we need more faith when really we have plenty of faith; we just put our faith in the wrong things. In our own way, we trust in the chariots and horsemen of Egypt instead of trusting in the God who made a covenant promise to be our God, if we would be His people.

How much better to have the heart of the Psalmist in Psalm 20:7: Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. Still further, our trust should only be in the Lord. I like what the old Puritan writer John Trapp said: “He that stands with one foot on a rock, and another foot upon a quicksand, will sink and perish as certainly as he that stands with both feet on a quicksand.”

Make sure that you have both feet on the rock of real trust in God.

Click here for David’s commentary on Isaiah 31

Trading Gold for Bronze

Trading Gold For Bronze

Dear Reader of Inspiration by Email: This quick note is a reminder that the non-profit work of Enduring Word is donor supported. I appreciate your prayerful consideration of a generous year-end gift to support our work of providing free Bible resources world-wide. To give, please click here.  Thank you – David Guzik


And 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 all the gold shields which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. (1 Kings 14:26-27)

Solomon’s temple was one of the great achievements of ancient Israel – this beautiful building was filled with treasures that reflected the blessing and glory of Solomon’s kingdom. Understanding that makes it all the more sad to read of what happened to Solomon’s son Rehoboam: He took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house. Solomon left great wealth to his son Rehoboam, both in the temple and in the palace. After only five years, that wealth was mostly gone.

Trading Gold for Bronze

1 Kings 10:16-17 tells us more about this, mentioning these 500 shields, 200 large and 300 small. These shields made beautiful displays in the House of the Forest of Lebanon, but they were of no use in battle. Gold was too heavy and too soft to be used as a metal for effective shields. This was an example of the emphasis of image over substance that began in the days of Solomon and worsened in the days of Rehoboam. Because all they were interested in was image, the substance wasted away. These gold shields were given over to the Egyptians. By some estimates, Rehoboam gave over $33 million that was invested in gold ceremonial shields – and was now in the hands of the Egyptians.

We read, King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place. The replacement of gold with bronze is a perfect picture of the decline under the days of Rehoboam. We also read that he committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard. In the days of Solomon, the gold shields hung on display in the House of the House of the Forest of Lebanon (1 Kings 10:16-17). Under Rehoboam, the replacement bronze shields were kept in a protected guardroom until they were specifically needed for state occasions.

We can almost picture King Rehoboam walking through the hall of these shields in his palace, assuring himself that there really wasn’t much of a difference between gold shields and bronze shields. Despite his attempts at self-assurance, this was really a sad attempt to simply keep up former appearances.

This may describe our spiritual condition. We are robbed of spiritual strength and honor by our sin, compromise, and all they open the door to. Yet we work hard to keep up an outward appearance of spiritual interest and busyness. Ritual replaces relationship. We serve God on autopilot instead of a real love. Bronze replaces gold.

Think of how far Rehoboam fell in just a few years. He inherited an empire, and five years later he could only protect his small kingdom by bribing his enemies with the treasures inherited from his father. It was said of Solomon’s court that they despised silver (1 Kings 10:21); now his son had to settle for bronze. The dynasty of David went from gold to bronze in five years.

2 Chronicles summarized Rehoboam like this: “And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 12:14) This speaks to the lack of his of personal relationship with the Lord. It’s a sure way to go from gold to bronze.

Click here for David’s commentary on 1 Kings 14