What does it mean to you that God is our Rock? Find out in this week’s edition of Word Nerd Wednesday, as Kelly shares some rock-solid truths.
God is Our Rock
What do you think of when you hear the word rock? I’m a visualist; if you say anything, the image pops into my head. (This may or may not have been a problem before. Thank God I’ve learned how to cast down imaginations, but I digress.) So an actual rock is what I see in my mind’s eye.
Perhaps you think of God. I hope you do. Psalm 31:3 describes God as our rock:
“For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me. “Psalm 31:3 ESV
The Rock is our Refuge
Such richness comes from studying the word rock. The Hebrew of this word is cela` “from an unused root meaning to be lofty; a craggy rock, literally or figuratively (a fortress, strong hold)” (Strong’s 5553).
A rock the size of a crag, or cliff, is a great refuge, both literally and figuratively. I can imagine people hot from traveling found relief under the shade of “a great rock in a weary land”.Isaiah 32:2
Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon points out that, here, “metaphorically God is called anyone’s rock, i.e. His refuge, where he is safe from any foes.”
David wrote Psalm 31. He knew God being his rock didn’t mean that he wouldn’t have foes, but that God is His security. If you know anything about his life, you know that he had plenty of enemies. But he had just as many testimonies declaring how God kept him safe from them all.
How comforting to know that God is such a refuge for us! What About the Word Rock in the New Testament? An example of a New Testament equivalent for this word is found in one of Jesus’ parables:
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”Matthew 7:24-27 NKJV
The Greek counterpart of the Old Testament Hebrew is pétra: A (mass of) rock, cliff or ledge, literally or figuratively (4073).
A rock is a symbol of hardness and that which endures. In those days, men built secure houses in the cliffs. Pétra is the immovable rock, a sure foundation.
The Chief Cornerstone
Jesus is saying to be wise and build your life on Him, the foundation. And isn’t Jesus the chief cornerstone?
Now I’m not a carpenter, so I wanted to make sure I understood what a cornerstone is:
- a stone uniting two masonry walls at an intersection
- the chief foundation on which something is constructed or developed
Our salvation, our beliefs, our theology is Jesus, on Whom everything continues to be built.
The Size of the Rock
This same Greek word pétra is a mass of rock. So “when a type is sought to illustrate a sure foundation, the word pétra, an immovable rock, is used.” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament).
This rock is used metaphorically to describe Jesus Christ and His immovable testimony.
Many question the meaning of the passage where Jesus says:
“Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”Matthew 16:18 NLT
The difference is found in the size. When Jesus said Peter (Pétros), it is not a small stone (G3037), but “a large stone, a piece of rock such as a man might throw” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament).
You still have the metaphorical reference to the firmness and stability, but it’s a smaller fragment of the part where Jesus said, “upon this rock (pétra, a mass of rock).”
The Rock Solid Character of God
Knowing this reminds me that we are made in the image of God. If we’re talking about throwing stones, I’d say God used Peter to give the devil a black eye a few times. Just sayin’. Remember this is someone with an impetuous past, it’s encouraging to me how God used and transformed Peter for His glory. I studied his life in detail for writing New Beginnings: With God All Things Are Possible with HelloMornings. I wrote:
“Our character of the week was called Simon, which means ‘hearing,’ and Peter, meaning ‘rock.’ He was being transformed from one who simply heard Jesus, to one who was a more solid, reliable character. Jesus was merciful despite Peter’s impulsive failing. We see the transforming power of God in his life. The faulty Simon Peter of the Gospels is a changed, unfaltering Simon Peter in the book of Acts.”
Remember that no matter how rocky life gets (see what I did there?). We always have a massive living rock to build our lives on and find refuge.
Kelly R. Baker is a Bible study teacher, writer, mentor, the founder of the Blogger Voices Network and the Thriving in Christ Shop and School. She serves with her husband in leading the worship ministry at their church. You will probably find her sneaking a bite (or more) of organic dark chocolate in between wrangling her four homeschooled kids. She helps Christians go from stagnant in their walk with God to thriving in Christ. Learn the difference between God’s voice, yours, and Satan’s. Get access to the PDF here.