God is so … solid, for lack of a better word. The Bible repeatedly describes Him as a strong, secure refuge. He can always be depended upon to provide shelter from the storms of life.
Note, though: He doesn’t promise to prevent the storms. Instead, He promises to get us through the storm, and to be with us during the struggle.
One metaphor that the Bible uses to describe God’s dependability is “rock”. Think of a stone shelter, as opposed to one made of wood. Or consider Mt. Everest, or Ayers Rock in Australia. It’s hard to imagine anything more impregnable, yet even these mountains are subject to change…via erosion, or tectonic actions, or even human activity. God created these mountains! He is far stronger and more lasting than they are.
First, about the songs. Here are descriptions of a couple of favorite hymns, and the Biblical background behind them.
Rock of Ages
I was a little surprised to find that the exact term “Rock of Ages” is not actually in the Bible. The song was written as its author took shelter under a rocky overhang during a thunderstorm. He was reminded of verses like 2 Samuel 22:2-3:
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;2 Samuel 22:2-3
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge;
Other praises to God as a rock of refuge can be found in 1 Samuel 2:2, 2 Samuel 22:47, Psalm 19:14, and Isaiah 26:4.
The author probably also thought of Moses’ encounter with God in Exodus:
But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”Exodus 33:20-23
From that background, the song writer was able to say: “Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee.“
He Hideth My Soul
The same Scripture also inspired Fanny Crosby, the beloved hymn writer who did not let her blindness prevent her from writing hundreds of songs. She blessed us with the hymn whose refrain starts with “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock that shadows a dry, thirsty land.“
Christ, the Solid Rock
Another “rocky” hymn references Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49:
Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”Matthew 7:24-27
From that, we get the refrain “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.“
Check out these links, and pay close attention to the lyrics of each hymn. They are beautiful, profound depictions of a Christian’s solid hope in our God!
- Rock of Ages: Lyrics, Video
- He Hideth My Soul: Lyrics, Video
- On Christ, the Solid Rock, I Stand: Lyrics, Video
Now, as to why we believe God to be so solid a rock, it is because He has proven Himself over and over again. He has been a trustworthy shelter throughout history. He is the all-powerful, never-changing Creator.
The history 1 of the ancient Israelites — from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…then Joseph…then Moses and the Exodus…then Joshua and the entry into the Promised Land — shows God always keeping His promises and protecting His people. God’s dealings with the people through both good and bad kings — from David and Solomon until the return from captivity in Babylon — show Him rescuing them over and over from consequences of their own actions, every time they repented and turned back to Him. He never abandoned them: Even though it sometimes seemed as if He had, He was really always there working out His plan for their good. And, through that nation, He fulfilled His initial promise from Genesis 3:15 to provide a Redeemer, Jesus, who would deal with Satan and sin once and for all.
Holiness, Sovereignty, Omniscience, Omnipresence
I have done other articles discussing God’s holiness and His sovereignty. Those come into play again as I think about Him as an immovable Rock. I also think of Psalm 139, with its description of how omniscient and omnipresent He is. Here are some excerpts, but you can read the entire psalm at the link:
- You know when I sit down and when I rise up…
- Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all…
- If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me…
- Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day…
- in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
Psalm 2 describes the world’s attempts to overthrow God, and how it doesn’t even make a dent. So does the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11:1-9. All of this world’s evil tries to pound away at God. He just laughs, not even noticing its tickle around His feet. Psalm 46 tells how those who trust in God will not be moved even if the entire world crashes around them. Hebrews 13:8 tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.“
Throughout the Gospels, as they show Jesus doing miracles — turning water into wine, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, stilling the storm — nothing ever seems like it was difficult for Him. It was just a given that He had more than enough power to do all these things with simply a word or a thought. That makes sense, when I remember that all it took was a word for God to create the entire universe!
A line from the Bible study lesson my class did recently 2 caught my attention: During the Exodus, the Israelites were “led through the wilderness by the One who created the wilderness”. How’s that for a trustworthy guide?! And even though all creation passes away, the Creator will still be there, and will still be the same:
Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure…Psalm 102:25-27
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.Isaiah 40:8
The Safest Refuge of All
When I feel the need for shelter, for a safe place to hide while trouble rages around me, I can’t think of a better place to go than to God, the Rock of Ages.
My soul, wait in silence for God only,Psalm 62:5-8
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.