Sunday 29th July – 10:45am Worship
Sermon Series: Images of God
Title: God is our Rock
Bible Reading: Psalm 18:1-6,16-19,46
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
What a wonderful Psalm. If you have time this week, it would be great for you to read the whole Psalm – it would take you about 5 minutes but it is well worth it. This Psalm was written by David in the era after he was anointed King by the prophet Samuel but before he actually became king. If you remember the story – the current King, King Saul, felt very threatened by David. David was a young war hero (the story of Goliath) and was well loved by the people … and had been already anointed as the next King. So King Saul was trying to kill David and David was on the run and in hiding from Saul. David, as he often did turn to God for help …
- v3 “I called on the LORD”
- v4 “In my distress I cried out to God, yes I pray to my God for help”
No bad advice … when we are in a place when we feel trapped or threated or worried … let’s learn from David and call out to God for help.
What happened when David cried out to God? Not only did he find that God did indeed save him, but in God he found safety and security. In trying to describe God, David uses a number of images in this Psalm … let me remind you of a few of them…
you are my strength … my rock, my fortress, my saviour … my God is my rock, in whom I find protection … my shield … the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
Why do you think that David would use words such as ROCK and FORTRESS to describe the protective nature of God. Possible because a rock is hard, strong, not easily broken. Like the three little pigs, a house of straw or sticks can collapse, but a house made out of rock or bricks will withstand attack. I can sort of understand why this idea of ROCK is a good image for David to use.
But I also think David chose this image for a more obvious reason. Let me show you some pictures of Israel, of the place where David was when he wrote these words …
You see, Israel is a country which has green trees and fertile soil around the lakes and rivers, but it is also a country with huge rocky mountains. Now when it came to building a fortress, a strong place to be safe from your enemies, they didn’t build it on the sandy soil near the rivers … they would build their strong homes on the side of rocky hill, using the rocks as building materials.
Actually, the best example of this is the fortress at Masada. This was a huge stronghold that was built at the top of flat hill with very steep sides. As you can see, not only was it an amazing structure … it was incredibly strong and very, very secure. At one point, the Jewish people hid in this structure for years, surrounded by their enemies but their enemies could not get to them. The fortress was too strong, too secure.
David would have seen fortresses like this around Israel. He would have known just how strong and safe they were … and so when it came to trying to describe the safety and security he found in God he said that God is like a rock, a fortress. That is how safe I feel with God.
I think it is a good image of God. Jesus himself used this image when describing how people build their lives on God. He said some people their house upon the sand … on things in life that might look good but when the storms of life come along they sands move and shift and the house goes crash. But Jesus said to build your house, your life upon the rock, upon God, and then when the storms of life come, your house will stand firm.
What about you? Is this image helpful for you? Maybe you are in a place at the moment where you feel unsure. Where you feel there are enemies surrounding you or you just feel like things are unsafe. Maybe you feel that you need to be rescued from something. Well today I encourage you to take hold of this image of God.
Just as it was for David, it can be for you too. God can be your strength, your saviour, your shield and fortress. God can be your rock in which you will find protection and a place of safety. I encourage us all to build our lives on God our rock … and I pray that we all can say the words of Psalm 18:46 –
The LORD lives!
Praise to my Rock!
May the God of my salvation be exalted!