April 26, 2019 • Life for Leaders
Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.
Psalm 144 begins with a call to praise the Lord, who is identified as “my rock.” What does it mean to call God a rock? In what sense is the living Lord like an inanimate object? How could God be a rock?
The use of the rock metaphor reminds me of a curious church sign I saw several years ago. A large sign revealed the name of the church to be “The Solid Rock.” Below, a subtitle added, “A Church Aflame.” That struck me as a rather odd mix of images. One doesn’t often see a burning rock, at least not in Southern California. (Volcanic zones do actually have burning rock, but I doubt that church was thinking of lava. They were just mixing metaphors.)
The Psalms frequently refer to God as a rock. This image emphasizes, first of all, God’s strength. A large rock is solid and strong, just like the Lord. Thus we read in Psalm 18:2, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.” You can hide upon a rock when being pursued by enemies. Or you can duck under its cover to avoid the heat of the day or a soaking rainstorm. Thus a rock can be your “salvation” (Ps 62:2).
Of course God is much more than a rock. God’s heart is not stone cold. God is not without feeling or activity. God is, indeed, aflame with passion and power. So, when we think of God as a rock, we mustn’t let this image dominate our thinking about and experience of God. The rock metaphor reveals something essential about God’s character, but it doesn’t begin to exhaust the richness of God’s multifaceted being.
Several years ago I was going through a particularly discouraging time in my professional life. I needed to remember God’s presence and strength as I did my work. So, I put on my desk a photograph of Angel’s Landing, a prominent rock formation in Zion National Park. As I looked at that photo, I remembered good times on vacation with my family. Even more, I remembered that God was my rock, and that I could find security in him.
Something to Think About:
What images of God do you tend to hold in your mind?
When you picture God as a rock, what does this mean to you?
When have you experienced God as a place of refuge and safety?
Something to Do:
Perhaps you need to be reminded of God’s strength as you do your work. If so, can you think of something (a photo, an actual rock, etc.) that you could place on your desk to reassure you?
God of power and might, God of mercy and grace, you are indeed my rock. In you, I find protection. In you I find salvation.
How thankful I am, dear Lord, for your strength, and that you make your strength available to me. When I am weak, you are mighty. When I am afraid, you are my comfort. When I am exposed, you keep me safe.
Yet you are so much more than a rock, Lord. You are alive. You are aflame. You are passionate. You are loving. You are kind.
Help me, O God, to let the images of you in Scripture expand my knowledge and experience of you. May I be continually stretched by your Word to know you more fully and truly.
All praise be to you, O God, my rock and my deliverer! Amen.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.