What If God Is a Rock?
And who is a rock, except our God?
Those words come down to us through the centuries from a man who knew what it meant to trust God as if his life depended on it—because it did, constantly.
From his youth guarding his father’s sheep against fierce predators, to bloody combat as a warrior in Israel’s military, to life as a fugitive, hounded through the wilderness by a madman and his army, David knew empirically that God upheld him. On into his silver years as Israel’s king, David lived a life marked by conflict and marred by his own sins. Through it all, God was David’s rock—his only rock. His sole stability when the world around him was shaking.
When you think of a David kind of rock, think big. Think of a flinty summit perched high above the surrounding landscape, with a commanding view in every direction. Think of a craggy mountain pitted with caves, like the cave of Adullam, where David and his soldiers hid from Saul’s pursuing army (1 Samuel 22:1). Think of rugged Mount Sinai, or of the Half Dome at Yosemite, or of . . .
Well, what do you think of when you think of a rock?
What words come to mind?
How about enduring. Unchanging. Unmoving. Not merely strong but stronger than. Stronger than what? Everything else. Drive a locomotive into the Half Dome and guess which one will come out the winner.
A rock is dependable, here today as in ages past and not going anywhere in the future. You can count on a rock to be there. That’s the kind of rock God is—the Rock, for you and me just as surely he was for David.
This writing’s opening verse from Psalm 18 says much about God in few words, but it by no means tells all. Many other Psalms resound with David’s joyous praise of his Rock, companied with words such as fortress, high tower, strength, and deliverer that testify to God’s reliability and salvation. For instance:
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And one of my favorites, Psalm 18:2:
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Today, in the midst of a violently shaking world, don’t you long for stable ground to root your life in? Jesus compared those who practice his teachings to a homebuilder who anchored his house on a rock. “The rain descended,” Jesus said, and “the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:25).
In simple words, he was telling his listeners, “Do what I say and you’ll withstand the worst life can throw at you.”
Does that not smack of audacity? Not when the speaker is the Son of God. Not when his words reflect the enduring character of the Rock. Jesus’s parable is about far more than “Do it because I said.” It is an invitation to align our thinking and our ways with who God is and how he says life works.
Yeah, but . . . cancer. Covid 19. Auto accidents. Divorce. Mental illness. The death of a child. Financial ruin. Homelessness.
Yes, I know. God gave us tear ducts because he knew we’d need them. I’ve used mine plenty, and I’m sure you have too. So did David, and so, for that matter, did Jesus. Faith is not blithe denial of the floods and winds or of pain and sorrow. They’re as real as can be—Jesus wouldn’t have told his parable otherwise. But God is also real, the unseen rock who upholds us when we cleave to him and his ways.
When Moses struck the rock in the wilderness, water gushed forth to slake the thirst of God’s people (see Exodus 17:1–7). God provided. But he did so amid the austerity of the dessert, “that great and terrible wilderness in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water . . . that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end” (Deuteronomy 8:15–16, my emphasis).
That is what we’re to set our vision on: God’s good for us in the end. The Rock on which we build our lives is our surety that when Satan attacks us, when life hits hard, when the millrace beats against the things we love, that our faith, our calling in this world, and our destiny in the next will emerge victorious when the waters subside.
We are not our own sure foundation. We do not stand by our own strength. We are grounded on something—on Someone—far stronger. Like David, we cry,