By Mike Willis
The Lord has revealed himself to man through various figures of speech. Jesus compared himself to the water of life (Jn. 4:14), bread of life (Jn. 6:35), light of the world (Jn. 8:12), door (Jn. 10:9), etc. In each of these, the Lord reveals something about himself to mankind. In the Old Testament, the Lord revealed himself to man as the Rock.
He is the Rock, his work is perfect (Deut. 32:4).
. . . he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation (Deut. 32:15).
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer (Psa. 18:2).
The figure captured the minds of both the Old Testament poets and our own, as it reveals our God to us.
How fitting that Moses should be the first to describe God as his Rock. “On the rocks of Sinai was the Law proclaimed. In the rock cleft was Moses hidden. From the smitten rock the waters gushed forth. How natural for Moses to apply this figure to the eternal God! ” (The Pulpit Commentary: Deuteronomy, p. 504) Let us see what traits about God are revealed through this figure of speech.
The Eternity of God
Rocks endure the ravages of nature. They are not washed away as is the dirt. Consequently, the comparison of God to a rock reminds us of his eternity (cf. Psa. 90:1-3). He is the “Rock of Ages.”
The Immutability of God
To describe God as immutable points to his unchanging character. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (cf. Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). Because of his unchanging character, we can rely upon our God. Everything else in life may change, but not our God. In “There Stands A Rock,” S.S. Journal contrasts the “ever drifting sand” on which some build their hopes with the immutable God.
There stands a Rock on shores of time,
That rears to heav’n its head sublime;
That Rock is cleft, and they are blest
Who find within this cleft a rest.
Some build their hopes on the ever drifting sand,
Some on their fame or their treasure or their land,
Mine’s on the Rock that forever stall stand,
Jesus, the “Rock of Ages.”
In contrast to God, the solid Rock, “all other ground is sinking sand.”
God, the Sheltering Rock
The figure of God as a rock also points to him as our shelter in the time of trouble. A rock was a place to hide in time of enemy invasion (Judg. 15:8,11,15; 1 Sam. 13:6). The shade of the rock protected those who hid under its shadow from the intense heat (Isa. 32:2). Hence, the description of God as a Rock emphasizes to us that he is our shelter and refuge (Psa. 32:7).
David said that God was “his hiding place” (Psa. 32:7). In Psalm 61 he wrote,
Hear my cry, O God;
Attend unto my prayer,
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For thou hast been a shelter for me,
And a strong tower from the enemy (61:2-3).
Impressed with the figure of God as a rock “higher than I, ” William G. Fisher wrote “The Rock That Is Higher Than I.”
O, sometimes the shadows are deep,
And rough seems the path to the goal;
And sorrows, sometimes how they sweep
Like tempests down over the soul.
O, then to the Rock let me fly,
To the Rock that is higher than I;
O, then to the Rock let me fly, To the Rock that is higher than I
Others of our poets have caught the imagery of God as the sheltering rock, protecting those under its shadow from the intense heat or the thunderstorm. Here are some of their words:
The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A shelter in the time of storm.
(Shelter in Time of Storm, V.J. Charlesworth)
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
(Rock of Ages, A.M. Toplady)
A Wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the Rock,
Where rivers of pleaseure I see.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the Rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depth of his love,
And covers me there with his hand.
(He Hideth My Soul, Fanny J. Crosby)
When enemies assault, the man who is protected by rock is safer than those in hiding in more vulnerable places (see the illustration of this in the Three Little Pigs fairy tale). The Lord is our strong defense, our impregnable Rock, in the face of the enemy. David said, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” (Psa. 15:1-2). He prayed to his God, “Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress” (Psa. 31:2-3).
There is no other God but Jehovah. He alone is man’s Rock. As Moses described Jehovah as his Rock, he said to Israel, “For their (the Gentiles) rock (god) is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges” (Deut. 32:31). He realized the uniqueness of Jehovah. When Hannah praised God for giving her a son name Samuel, she confessed, “There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (1 Sam. 2:2). “For who is God save the Lord? Or who is a rock save our God” (Psa. 18:31).
“The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted” (Psa. 18:46).
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 18, pp. 546, 564
September 20, 1990