THE ROCK OF OUR SALVATION
There are two Hebrew words for ROCK, (1) TSUR (70x) which speaks of a rock that can range from the size of a pebble to the size of a boulder and (2) SELA (54x) which generally describes a larger rock such as a crag (steep rugged rock), a cliff or a mountainside. Approximately 50% (62 of 124) of the OT uses of ROCK are metaphorical and in some way picture Jehovah -- these figurative uses of rock will be the focus of this short series on “JESUS OUR ROCK”.
In PART 2 of this series, we will discuss more fully Paul's revelation that the smitten "ROCK" which gushed forth water in Exodus 17:6-note was also "a spiritual ROCK...and the ROCK was CHRIST." (1Cor 10:4-note). Even as the rock at Mt Sinai was a source of literal water for Israel, Jesus our Rock is the source of "living water" to all who believe in Him. Are you thirsty? Drink from the Rock of your Salvation. Everyone who drinks of this water shall never thirst again, for this Rock "shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (Jn 4:13, 14-note).
How else does the rock picture God? If you've ever leaned your full weight against a large boulder, you found that it was immovable and fully capable of supporting you. The rock speaks of stability. Is your life lacking stability? Do you need Someone to lean against, Someone you know will not be moved by the heavy load you carry on your back? Run to the Rock of your Salvation and "cast your burden on the LORD." (Ps 55:22-note) David ran to his Rock and thus could affirm that "He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a ROCK making my footsteps firm." (Ps 40:2-note) When life becomes "shaky" recall to your mind that nothing moves or changes Jesus. He is not affected by the convulsions of society or the confusion of government. He is our rock. He stands secure. He will not be moved. And neither will you if you are hidden in the cleft of the Rock of your Salvation.
Rocks are long lasting and provide a good picture of God's attribute of immutability (changelessness). The Rock Himself testifies "I, the LORD, do not change." (Malachi 3:6-note) Are you afraid of change (physical, fiscal, etc)? Run to the Rock of your Salvation, the One Who remains the same yesterday, today and forever." (Heb 13:8-note)
Large rocks provide protection from enemy attack, a fact David understood well, declaring that "In the day of trouble (evil, danger, discomfort, distress, affliction, adversity) He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me. He will lift me up on a ROCK." (Ps 27:5-note) Are you under attack? Are you fearful of adversaries (remember we have 3 intractable, deadly enemies -- the world, the flesh and the devil, especially his fiery missiles)? Run to the Rock of your Salvation, where the Solid Rock will protect you from your enemies and their fiery missiles (Read parallel passage Eph 6:16-note). David ran to the Rock and thus was able to testify "He alone is my Rock and my Salvation. He is my Fortress (Stronghold, High Tower); I will never be shaken." (Ps 62:2NIV-note)
Large rocks provide shade from the blinding, dehydrating rays of the hot desert sun. "Do you find yourself in "dry, desert-like" life-sapping circumstances, like David when he was in the wilderness, crying out "O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, In a dry and weary land where there is no water." (Ps 63:1-note) Then, do as David did and run to the Rock of your Salvation and experience His comforting "supernatural shade" and ever sufficient supply of soul satisfying drink (Remind your soul of the Rock's "sufficiency" by reading 2Cor 9:8-note, Jn 7:37-39-note). Isaiah (speaking of a future time but applicable in principle to the present) writes "He will shelter Israel from the storm and the wind. He will refresh her as streams in the desert and as the cool shadow of a large ROCK in a hot and weary land." (Isaiah 32:2NLT-note). Where do you run when your emotions, your circumstances, your trials, your adversaries, etc, appear overwhelming and your outlook seems hopeless? Try the uplook! Run to the Rock, "of Christ Jesus, our Hope" (1Ti 1:1-note), the Rock Who is eternally stable, secure, sound, solid, unchanging, immoveable and always reliable, the only Source of inner strength and deliverance for our soul. Run to Christ, your personal Rock of Salvation.
Praise the Rock of Our Salvation
Praise the mighty God above!
Come before His sacred presence
With a grateful song of love.
He is God, and He alone.
Wake the song of adoration—
Come with joy before His throne!
Praise the Rock of our salvation!
Praise the Father’s boundless love!
Praise the Lamb, our expiation!
Praise the Spirit from above!
Praise the Rock of our salvation!
Jesus’ blood avails for sin;
Jesus, at the door of mercy,
Waits to let the wandr’er in.
Praise the Rock of our salvation!
Catch from yonder radiant clime
Strains by everlasting ages,
Echoed back in tones sublime.
Is your heart weary of the seemingly endless spiritual warfare? Are you envious of "the prosperity of the wicked" (Ps 73:3-note)? Asaph was, and his foot came close to slipping (Ps 73:2-note), until he came into "the sanctuary of God" (Ps 73:17-note). In the presence of the Rock of his Salvation, Asaph turned away "from the glitter which fascinated him to the true gold which was his real treasure" (CHS), declaring "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the STRENGTH (Hebrew = tsur = literally "THE ROCK") of my heart and my portion forever." (Ps 73:25-26-note) Spurgeon rightly reminds us that Asaph's "God would not fail him, either as protection or a joy. His heart would be kept up by divine love, and filled eternally with divine glory. After having been driven far out to sea, Asaph casts anchor in the old port. We shall do well to follow his example. There is nothing desirable save God; let us, then, desire only Him. All other things must pass away; let our hearts abide in Him, Who Alone abides for ever."
Solomon writes that “the NAME OF THE LORD (like “The Rock of our Salvation") is a STRONG TOWER (secure refuge), the righteous man runs (makes haste, runs quickly) into it and is safe (literally lifted up, elevated above the danger!).” (Pr 18:10-note). David understood this truth and prayed "From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint (in despair, overwhelmed, without strength); Lead me to the ROCK that is higher than I." (Ps 61:2-note) J C Ryle explains that by the “NAME of God we mean all those attributes through which He is revealed to us—His power, wisdom, holiness, justice, mercy, truth, etc." Spurgeon adds that "Ignorance is worst when it amounts to ignorance of God, and knowledge is best when it exercises itself upon the NAMES OF GOD. This most excellent knowledge leads to the most excellent grace of faith (cp Ro 10:17-note). O, to learn more of the attributes and character of God. Unbelief, that hooting night bird, cannot live in the light of divine knowledge. It flies before the sun of God's great and gracious NAME. If we read this verse literally, there is, no doubt, a glorious fullness of assurance in the NAMES OF GOD. By knowing His NAME (in our case knowing Him as the Rock of our Salvation) is also meant an experiential acquaintance with the attributes of God, which are every one of them anchors to hold the soul from drifting in seasons of peril." May God's Spirit open the eyes of our heart to behold wonderful things in His great Name, the Rock of our Salvation, so that we might continually "grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (Ps 119:18-note, 2Pe 3:18-note).
David declares “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your NAME in all the earth. You have set Your glory above the heavens.” (Ps 8:1-note, cf Ps 19:1-2-note) These passages on the importance of God’s NAME beg the question: How do we “run into” His Name the Rock of our Salvation? David explains that “those who know Thy NAME will put their trust in Thee, for Thou, O LORD, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee.” (Ps 9:10-note) Spurgeon outlines this psalm: (1) All important knowledge -- know Thy Name. (2) Blessed result -- will put their trust in Thee. (3) Sufficient reason -- for Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee." And so we run into the Rock of our Salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9-note). We place our trust in the Rock Who is Christ, so that He becomes our eternal refuge, "the Rock of our Salvation” (Ps 95:1-note). Then we like David can confidently declare “He ONLY is MY Rock and MY Salvation.” (Ps 62:2, 6-note) “The LORD lives and blessed be MY Rock (He is not a dead rock like the idols but a “living Rock” - "indeed their rock is not like our Rock" Dt 32:31-note) and exalted be God, the Rock of my salvation....Who is a ROCK, except our God?” (2Sa 22:47-note, Ps 18:31b-note) “Jehovah is upright. He is MY Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (Ps 92:15-note) And so we must first confess that Jehovah (Jesus) is “MY ROCK and MY REDEEMER. (Ps 19:14-note) Peter explains that Jesus is "a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense" for all who are disobedient to (who disbelieve) the word (the Gospel). (1Pe 2:8-note quoting Isa 8:14-note) Only when the ROCK is also our REDEEMER do we possess Biblical hope--not a “hope so” but a "hope sure"--an absolute assurance that God will bring us safely through the storm of this life, will shelter us from the wrath to come [1Th 1:10-note], and will finally bring us to our eternal Home in the presence of His majesty and glory! May we all be able to sing David's song: “Upon God rests (depends) MY salvation and MY glory, the Rock of MY strength (“MY MIGHTY ROCK”-NIV), MY Refuge where no enemy can reach me.” (Ps 62:7-note)
C H Spurgeon calls us to notice how David “multiplies titles for Jehovah, and in so doing he renders much glory and honor to the Lord, Whom he had tried and proved to be “the faithful God” (Dt 7:9-note, 1Co 1:9-note) in all of our various circumstances. Ignorance needs but few words, but when experience brings a wealth of knowledge, we need varied expressions to serve as coffers for our treasure. God Who is OUR ROCK when we flee for shelter, is also OUR MIGHTY ROCK (Ps 62:7NIV-note) when we stand firm and defy the foe. He is to be praised ("Praise to MY ROCK" Ps 18:46NLT-note) under both characters. Observe how David brands (as with a branding iron) his own initials upon every Name which he rejoicingly gives to his God-- MY Expectation (Ps 62:5KJV-note), MY Rock (Ps 28:1-note), MY Salvation (Ps 25:5-note), MY Glory (Ps 62:7-note), MY Strength (Ps 31:4-note), MY Refuge (2Sa 22:3-note). He is not content to simply know that the Lord is all these things. He acts in faith towards Him, and lays claim to Him under every character (the Lord's many titles). What are the silver mines of Peru to me if I have no inheritance in them? It is the little pronoun “MY” which puts the honey into the comb. If our experience has not yet enabled us to realize the LORD under any of these consoling titles (ROCK...of MY Refuge [Ps 94:22-note]...of MY Salvation [Ps 89:26-note]...of MY Strength [Ps 62:7-note, Ps 31:2-note]...of MY Habitation [Dwelling Place -Ps 71:3-note]), we must ask the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29-note) to enable us to be partakers of their sweetness. The bees in some way or other penetrate the flowers and collect their juices. It must be hard for them to enter the closed cups and mouthless bags of some of their favorites in the garden, yet these honey gatherers find or make a passage and in this they are our instructors, for into each delightful NAME, character, and office of our covenant God, our persevering faith must find an entrance, and from each it must draw delight” and like the bees we too might "suck honey from the Rock" (Dt 32:13-note) and come to experience that His "honey from the rock would satisfy (satiate)" (Ps 81:16-note) our deepest, innermost needs!
TO SUMMARIZE: Matthew Henry rightly said that "We never trust a man till we know him. The mother of unbelief is ignorance of God, His faithfulness, mercy, and power (as revealed in His Names)." The better God is known the more He is trusted. The more God is trusted the more He is sought out and relied upon. May we, like the saints of old, confidently declare that "we know not what to do, but our eyes are on You" (2Chr 20:12-note), the unchangeable, strong, steadfast, sheltering ROCK OF OUR SALVATION, keeping in mind that the Hebrew word for "salvation" (yesha') has a wide variety of meanings including deliverance, rescue, preservation, victory, liberty (not bondage), welfare, etc.
As Spurgeon says Christ "is our abiding, immutable, and MIGHTY ROCK, and in Him we find deliverance and safety. Therefore it becomes us to praise Him with heart and with voice from day to day; and especially should we delight to do this when we assemble as His people for public worship." We "who have hidden in that Rock can truly praise Him."
O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
Let us shout joyfully to the ROCK OF OUR SALVATION.
If Christ is the Rock of our salvation, Who has given you living water for your soul, should we not come before Him with great joy and thanksgiving? Are you experiencing difficult circumstances? Are you downcast or in distress? Then may God fill you "with His Spirit...(so that you may speak) to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord" (Eph 5:18-note) The next time you are tempted to grumble or you feel downcast, determine enabled by the Spirit's inner strengthening of your soul to sing a psalm of praise to the ROCK OF YOUR SALVATION. It is one of the best ways to experience calm and contentment when life seems bleak and circumstances appear to be overwhelming.
So let us sing this great old Maranatha chorus entitled...
THE ROCK OF MY SALVATION
You are the Rock of MY Salvation
You are the Strength of my life.
You are MY Hope and MY Inspiration
Lord, unto You will I cry.
I believe in You, I believe in You
For Your faithful love to me
You have been MY Help in time of Need
Lord, unto You will I cleave.