Rock – Psalm 18

… my God, my rock … who is a rock except our God …blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation Ps. 18:2,31,46

Psalm 18 is a hymn of victory of Israel over her enemies, expressing praise and confidence in Yahweh, who is the Rock of Israel. The Psalm begins with words expressing the intimacy of a relationship between God and His people, whereby Yahweh, the covenant-keeping and loving God, bares His holy arm in defense of the people in whom He delights. The word “rock” which is used about twenty-four times in the book of Psalms with reference to God, is best understood in terms of its Old Testament background. During the wilderness wandering, God caused water to flow from a rock (Dt 8:15) – which the New Testament reveals was Christ (1 Co 10:4). Later, God hid Moses in the “cleft of the rock” and covered him with His hand for protection (Ex. 33:22). With these background experiences, when Moses wrote the Torah, he used the word “rock” figuratively to describe God. “The Rock, his work is perfect; For all his ways are justice” (Deut. 32:4; cf. vv. 13,15,18,30,31,37). Similarly, Hannah prayed, “There is none holy as Jehovah; For there is none besides thee, Neither is there any rock like our God” (1 Sam. 2:2). And David praised God as the Rock in his “final song” in 2 Sam. 22:2,3,32,47;23:3.

The word “rock” is equated with the idea of strength. David, the author of Psalm 18, also employs military terms, referring to God as, “my fortress,” “my shield,” and “my stronghold.” As such, God is the great King who is able to deliver those who call upon Him. The Bible is realistic when it comes to the afflictions, trials, and battles that God’s people face in this world. But it always reveals that “He that is in us is greater, than he that is in the world” (1 Jn 4:4).  God is also our refuge, so we, like Moses, can hide in the cleft of the Rock, knowing that God will care for us. “Rock” also typifies something about the nature of God. We can say that He is solid as a rock, in that He is unchangeable in nature — the attribute of His immutability. Because His ways are perfect, and He is faithful to deliver His people, the psalmist asks rhetorically, “Who is God, but the Lord?” (v. 31) This is a Hebraic assertion that there is absolutely no god besides the Lord!

The acts of deliverance involved the complete subjugation of His and our enemies (v. 47), and exaltation above the nations (v. 48). As such the purpose of this Psalm is to encourage God’s people to look to their coming deliverer, the Messiah. The “rock” symbolism in the New Testament is used with reference to Christ. He is the chief-corner stone; He is the rock of offense to those who reject Him, but the spiritual rock for those who obey Him (Eph. 2:20; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:8; 1 Cor. 10:4). For Christ is the rock that is higher than I.

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