Knowing God by His Names ~ Rock 12
Knowing God by His Names 12
Jehovah-Tsur ~ The LORD is My Rock
* Psalms 144:1 Praise be to the LORD my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.
* Psalms 94:22 But the LORD has become my fortress and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.
* Psalms 62:1-2 My souls waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold, I shall not be greatly shaken.
* Today’s Focus:
Since this is a bible study, we are going to ‘dig’, go deep and do some research… follow along with me as we explore the Psalms and see Him as our ROCK!
I’d like us to participate in a short exercise, don’t worry – I’m not going to have you close your eyes and picture yourself standing in a meadow of flowers, listening to the soft breeze, (that is for another time, – just kidding). When I say the word . chair – what imagery comes to mind? Stop, think on that a moment. With a group of 10 people the word ‘chair’ can have 10 different images. For some the chair may mean, a wooden straight back type. Or possibly, a leather brown lazy boy, placed next to a roaring fire. Mine would be, an over stuffed soft pale yellow floral print, near a window, under a reading lamp. Even to maybe one, a chair may mean, small – uncomfortable fixed in tight facing the corner of a room.
This is why it is important to research the history, even the culture and meaning of a word for understanding the intent of the author at the time of his writing. This is what is known as Etymology – the study of the origins of words. It comes from the Greek word, ‘etymon’ meaning – original or true meaning. Also, we may go a step further, which is called Lexical Semantics, known as the study of how and what the words can denote, this lending to concepts or word pictures. Word pictures can truly become … ‘a picture is worth a thousands words’.
This is where we pick up our study today. In the above verses from Psalms, David uses ‘imagery’ to describe his God. The LORD is my Rock, Jehovah-Tsur . We will go to the original Hebrew, and possibly see the Rock as seen by David and others.
The word David chooses to use in these verses, is ‘tsur’ (or sur), the Strong’s describes it as, a rock or boulder, a refuge, also an edge as a precipice. It is large, solid – room enough to stand. It can also be translated ‘strength’ as found in Psalms 18:2 (KJV) ‘The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, (sur) in whom I will trust…’ We will see that verse again.
The concept of the rock as a refuge is fascinating, in that it can imply ’emergency’ refuge. An example…picture with me, the event of Elijah, (1 Kings 19) he is running, worn out, the Lord comes to him and speaks encouragement. Verse 12, ‘after the fire came, a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then the voice said to him, ‘what are you doing here, Elijah?’ The wording in the Hebrew suggests a specific cave… the very cave where Moses saw the glory of God pass before him, (Exodus 33:21-23)
Then the LORD said, “There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock. When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.”
The rock, providing shelter, protection, a ‘platform’ (if you will) for an encounter with Jehovah. He too can be our ‘hiding place’ a solid form of protection. Psalms 91:1 ‘he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty, and Psalms 32:7 ‘You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.’ There is wisdom in taking shelter, Proverbs 22:3 ‘the prudent sees evil and hides himself, but the naive go on and are punished for it’.
The majority of the terrain of the country when these Psalms were written was flat, and rocky. David spoke of what he knew. Today if we were to write and describe our God likened to David’s imagery, one might say ‘God is my steel framed pillar full of rebar, One Whom can withstand the elements and no weapon can penetrate.’
Speaking in architectural terms, ‘every structure must have a foundation’. The rock foundation of our faith. Ephesians 2:18-22 (NIV) states that Jesus is that foundation. HE is the corner stone that sustains the whole structure. The foundation at times may determine a structures ability to withstand the storms, tests of time etc.
For through Him (Jesus) we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (NLT)
I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, what happened to our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. God guided all of them by sending a cloud that moved along ahead of them, and he brought them all safely through the waters of the sea on dry ground. As followers of Moses, they were all baptized in the cloud and the sea. And all of them ate the same miraculous food, and all of them drank the same miraculous water. For they all drank from the miraculous rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ.
There is a theological word… that too comes into play with ‘word imagery’, known as ‘theophoric names’. These are names which include or derive from the name of God. Example… Daniel, – meaning God (el) has judged or judge of God. Today when deciding on a name for a child, some may refer to a book and find one that sounds nice, appealing or go with the going trend. Rarely do we regard or consider the meaning of that name. In bible times, many were named according to family line or as a prophetic statement, also character traits desired in the child. In the book of Numbers (1:6, 3:35) we find two folks with names expressing God as their rock… Zurishaddai (meaning my rock is Shaddai or rock of Almighty) and Zuriel (meaning my rock is El or rock of God). How would it be or how would we carry ourselves if we too carry the name of God…. we may not have such names as previously mentioned… (long and hard to pronounce) but we indeed do carry the name of God… Christian, a character trait… follower of Christ. When a word has the ‘suffix’ of ‘ian’ it implies association with the beginning of the word. We are in association and known for Christ.
A word picture offered from Psalms 18:1-2 is that of the process of becoming strong, to strengthen. The word used here for strength is (hezeq) denoting such. So it is, that as we are founded on the rock, we are growing stronger, and take refuge in the process.
I love You, O LORD, my strength
The LORD is my rock and my fortress
and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in
Whom I take refuge.
Much of what we see of David, was his greatest desire to live in God’s presence. Each day of his life, every aspect of God’s character surrounding him. God as a ROCK symbolizes His sheer strength, ability to protect, His solidness. The Psalms are peppered with praise and adoration, explore these, hear and sense God as the One whom we too can run, find shelter, stand solidly on!
May we echo the words of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:2 ‘There is no One holy like the LORD. Indeed there is no One besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God’.
Study Questions: (only 3 this week, pray and ask God to reveal Himself to you as YOUR Rock)
1. When thinking of a ‘rock’ what first comes to mind? Is it a pebble size, or large and inviting to come and rest upon. How would you describe the Lord as YOUR rock?
2. Psalms 62:2 says ‘He alone is my rock and my salvation…’. When you are faced with a hard task, or frustrated situation, to whom do you go? Where do you seek comfort, strength?
3. Psalms 94:22, says ‘the LORD has become my fortress and my God the rock…’ now – couple that with Psalms 27:8 ‘ My heart says of You, “Seek His face!” Your face, LORD I will seek.’. Knowing at times, it is a process to get your feet solidly on the foundation that will not be moved… what are you going to do about beginning that process or even sustaining it?
Resources used in this study: Wikipedia Website; Reading O.T. Terminology; Lexicon of Greek Names; Names of Christ – by T.C. Horton/Charles E. Hurlburst; Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, Theological Dictionary of the N.T.; The Strong’s Concordance; The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testament; The Vines Expository Dictionary; The New Bible Dictionary; The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament; Complete Jewish Bible, New American Standard; New International Version; King James Version; Young’s Literal Translation; New Revised Standard Version.
In Him, DeDe (Ps. 92:4 You thrill me LORD!)