Psalm 28 TALK: My Lord the Rock

(All bible quotes from The Holy Bible, New International Version)

PSALM 28 TALK

MY LORD THE ROCK

INTRODUCTION

What’s in a name?

You might ask. Well in my culture, names are no more than a label although some people do look up the meaning of a name out of interest when deciding on a name for their child. My name is James, and I looked it up and comes from the Hebrew name Jacob which of course means “Supplanter”. However my parents chose my name because my father is the youngest of 13 children and the first born to my grandmother died in infancy and he was called “James”. So my dad wanted to call his first son James in memory of the child who was lost.

In the ancient Hebrew and Jewish culture, however all names have meaning and parents name for their child would be a reflection of their goals and dreams for their child. The names of God therefore have a lot of significance as they tell us something about the character of God.

There are seven principle names of God in the Old Testament but dozens of others. The most famous name of God is of course YHWH which is a name missing the Hebrew vowels as this name was considered so important and Holy that around 200 years before Christ the vowels were dropped from the name as they thought that saying this name of God out loud might break the commandment “ You must not take the Lords name in vain”. The name was given by God to Moses at the burning bush when Moses asked God “Who shall I say sent Me”. The name is usually translated to mean ”I am who I am”. This name means that God is, has been and will be therefore he is the eternal one or the one true God.

David used a number of special names for God in the Psalms and the special name for God in Psalm 28 is “Rock” or in Hebrew “Cur”

Rock (Cur) a Name of God

“The name Rock refers to the fact that God is the foundation of everything. He alone is immovable and unbreakable.  When building a house it is important to dig down to the rock to form a strong foundation so that over time the ground beneath the house won’t begin to crumble and tear the house apart. God is the foundation for our lives that will not crumble” (From Parent Company, Awareness of God / Names of God).

The name for God as Rock (Cur in Hebrew) appears in a number of places in the bible and of course in the first verse of Psalm 28.

Before reading the Psalm lets have a look at three others times this special name for God is used.

1. Deuteronomy 32: 4

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

Note how God is utterly dependable and perfect. Three dependable characteristics of God are mentioned here:

1. He is Just

This means God is a fair and right judge of all things and his character demands justice at all times.

2. He is Faithful

This means God can be relied upon and will never let us down and of course knowing that we are sinful fallen beings and knowing that God is Just means that he is only faithful to us out of Love or Grace which is unmerited love.

3. He is Holy

Finally the verse tells us that God does no wrong and is therefore different and separate to us as we are sinful fallen beings.

2. 2 Samuel 22 : 2 – 3

“He said: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn  of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior from violent men you save me”.

David spoke these words towards the end of his life and they seem to be expressing what he has learnt about God throughout his long life. As we have seen in previous studies David got into a lot of trouble and difficulty in his life sometimes as a result of his own shortcomings but through it all, his God was a rock and fortress. God was always there helping and protecting David.

3. Isaiah 44:8

“Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? 
       You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

The final example of the use of the name “Rock” for God is Isaiah who is telling us that Israel’s God was like no other God as he is totally reliable, sure and true and demands to be proclaimed to everyone as such

Finally in God there is no need to fear because He will not crumble, and as long as we trust in Him neither will we.

Lets read Psalm 28

1 To you I call, O LORD my Rock;

do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent,

I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.

2 Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your

Most Holy Place.

3 Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially

with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts.

4 Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands

have done and bring back upon them what they deserve.

5 Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD and what his hands have

done, he will tear them down and never build them up again.

6 Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.

7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. 
   My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

8 The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed

one.

9 Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them

forever.

This Psalm has only two main parts :

PART 1. A DESPERATE PRAYER TO GOD THE ROCK (Verses 1 to 5)

PART 2. PRAISE FOR AN ANSWER TO A PRAYER FROM GOD THE ROCK                                                                                                     (Verses 6 – 9)

 PART 1. A DESPERATE PRAYER TO GOD THE ROCK (Verses 1 to 5)

This Psalm is attributed to David when and why he wrote it is not clear but obviously verses 1 to 6 express a very desperate prayer to God. David is facing some very real opposition and danger. Some have suggested this could be another Psalm written around the time of the Rebellion of his son Absalom which we looked at in Psalms 3 and 4 but this is not certain. Certainly all through Davids life he faced all kinds of dangerous situations and God continually pulled David out of the depths of despair and crises on many occasions. By verse six God has heard his prayer and David turns from prayer to praise. We will now look at his desperate prayer for help.

In this section we will look at :

1.   HOW DAVID COMES TO GOD IN PRAYER

2.  WHAT DAVID ACTUALLY IS ASKING FOR IN HIS PRAYER

 

1.  HOW DAVID COMES TO GOD IN PRAYER

In the opening verses David seems to suggest that maybe God wont hear his prayer this time. He says,

“do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit” in verse 1 and

“do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbours but harbour malice in their hearts” in verse 3.

David is not loosing faith in God here but rather he is exercising it. Often in the cold face of the reality of life we seem to face hopeless situations and there seems to be no way out. This is what David was facing and as he did he put his situation to his God who he knew is a “Rock” someone he can rely on. He knew that his God does not like us to be presumptuous or arrogant in our approach to God. As James 4 :10 says,

“Humble yourselves before and he will lift you up”

David was coming to God in desperate need asking God for help. I am not impressed with long winded and flowery prayers. One day when I was at Bible College attending some morning prayer devotions one of my group prayed a long flowery prayer and when he finished the senior student who was leading us simply prayed . “God bless the birdies Amen. The impact was very overwhelming and I’m sure that student got the point. I once heard of a famous preacher when attending a church meeting had to find some kind of gentle way of bringing a female member to the end of a very long prayer and decided to say out loud, “While our dear sister is finishing her prayer we will sing Hymn number…”

Jesus did not like long flowery prayers as Matthew reports to us in Matthew 6 : 7

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words”.

David then in this Psalm prays to God not assuming anything but in verse two we read,

“I cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place”.

The lifting up of hands was just an outward expression of a persons feelings in there heart practiced in the Hebrew / Jewish culture. David is therefore reaching up to his God in heaven. As we saw in Psalm 15 , The Holy Place, Holy Hill or Sanctuary represented God in Heaven and as the writer to the Hebrews encourages us in Hebrews 4 : 16,

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

 2. WHAT DAVID ACTUALLY IS ASKING FOR IN HIS PRAYER

In verses 3 – 5 we read the content of David’s prayer,

“3 Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially

with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts.

4 Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands

have done and bring back upon them what they deserve.

5 Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD and what his hands have

done, he will tear them down and never build them up again”.

David is under some kind of attack from some kind of Godless men who aim to do him harm. This of course fits a number of situations David found himself in. When he was on the run from Saul his life was in constant danger.

After all the King or ruler of his country had made him public enemy number one and had put, what we would call a contract out on his life. We read this in 1 Samuel 19 : 1- 2,

“Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan was very fond of David 2 and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there”.

Later in David’s life his very own Son Absalom turned on his father, led a revolt against his throne and sought to kill him. We read of this in 2 Samuel 15 : 13 – 14,

“A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom. Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin upon us and put the city to the sword.”

Both these situations fit as a setting for David’s prayer as both Saul and Absalom spoke cordially with their neighbors but both harbored malice in their hearts. Both sought to do evil by killing “The Lords Anointed One” as David was.

David asks to be spared from their evil intent and for them to get what they deserved expressed so well in the words of verse 5,

“Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again”.

David knew his God was the “Rock” who never changed, who was both Just and loving. His enemies were out of step with this “Rock” and by this rock they would be crushed. As Paul puts it in Romans 9 : 33 (Putting together some verses from Isaiah),

“As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

 Jesus is of course this ‘stone” or rock who will one day judge all men when he returns.

Jesus therefore is not only a Saviour but when he comes next time he will be a judge. This will then complete what John the Baptist said about Jesus coming in Matthew 3 : 12,

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Jesus came the first time to save but he comes the second time to take his saved people to heaven with him and to judge with fire those who do not belong to him.

This judgment of the wicked is what David has in mind in verse 5,

“Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD and what his hands have

done, he will tear them down and never build them up again”.

PART 2. PRAISE FOR AN ANSWER TO A PRAYER FROM GOD THE ROCK                                                                                                     (Verses 6 – 9)

So David prays his prayer for help and safety in the face of a very real threat from his enemies. He now turns to praise to God, his Rock. We have seen this sort of change before in the middle of David’s Psalms and the concept of David finding himself in the depths of despair at the start of the Psalm to the heights of praise and victory at the end of the Psalm is a common theme in the Psalms of David.

Another beautiful passage of prayer of praise for deliverance from his enemies is in the previous Psalm, Psalm 27 : 1 -3,

“The LORD is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?

When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against

me, even then will I be confident”.

So David here in Psalm 28 speaks of the same thing,

“Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. 
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song”.

Three things I wont to highlight and speak about here before I finish our look at this Psalm :

  1. The Lord as a Shield
  2. Giving thanks in Song
  3. David’s Final words about his God the Rock
  1. The Lord as a Shield

 We should not forget that David was not only a great King of Israel but a great Military leader who led Israel into many successful battles and in his days shields were very important defensive tools. David was a great fighter and leader but he knew that his real defense against his enemies swords and arrows was his God. He also knew, like Paul in Ephesians 6 : 12, that his battles were not just against flesh and blood but as Paul says.

“but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

Against these enemies to go into battle without God shielding us would be plain spiritual suicide. So Paul tells us that our shield is Ephesians 6 : 16,

“take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”.

Our faith just as David’s faith in the “Rock” protector, strong one and always faithful one is the real shield for our lives.

Of course Jesus and what he has done for us is the basis of our faith and he promises in John 10 : 27.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand”.

2.   Giving thanks in Song

 We also might forget that not only was David a great King of Israel but he was a great poet and song writer for his people. I counted 69 Psalms that have David’s name attached to them as the author. David expressed his thanks and joy in God in many new compositions that he and his people were able to sing. Paul encourages us to express our praise and worship in song in that famous passage in Ephesians 5 : 19-20

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Great music has always been the hallmark of Christ’s church and we should thank God for the great music he has given us over the centuries to praise and worship his name.

  1.   David’s Final words about his God the Rock

 David finishes Psalm 28 with a prayer for the nation, something he has done before. The main concept in this prayer is the idea that God is their rock as well.

“8 The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.

9 Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever”.

David saw a close connection between his welfare and the welfare of his people. He was their king only because God had picked him out from tending sheep to be the “anointed one”. As God was to David a rock and refuge so was he to Israel. The concept of God’s protection and help here being portrayed here as “Strength” and “fortress”.

Fortress is a very interesting concept. In Psalm 46 : 1 -2 we read,

“God is our refuge and strength an ever – present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea”.

In verse 7 of Psalm 46 we read,

“The Lord Almighty is with us, The God of Jacob is our fortress”.

Inspired by these words and other words of this Psalm and the battle he had with the established and corrupt church of his time Martin Luther wrote the following hymn,

God is our fortress and our rock

Our mighty help in danger:

He shields us from the battle’s shock

And thwarts the devil’s anger:

For still the prince of night

Prolongs his evil fight;

He uses every skill

To work his wicked will –

No earthly force is like him.

This hymn written by Martin Luther during the Protestant Reformation proclaims Luther’s confidence in God and rallies all Christians to war against evil. Basing his words on Psalm 46, he victoriously states

“We will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us.”

Those persecuted and martyred for their convictions during the Reformation often sang these words.

Luther knew of course that our Salvation and Victory over the forces of evil  is found in Jesus Christ who is our rock and shield and so in the second verse of his hymn he writes,

Our hope is fixed on Christ alone,

The man, of God’s own choosing;

Without him nothing can be won

And fighting must be losing:

Come on and do their worst,

The Son of God shall ride

To battle at our side,

And he shall have the victory.

Martin Luther was not saying idle words he, at first stood against the whole Roman Catholic Church alone.  Appalled at the abuse of paying for time out of purgatory , Luther penned 95 statements against the practice of selling indulgences. On October 31, 1517, he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenburg, a common method of initiating scholarly discussion.

Luther became a marked man, someone the Roman Catholic Church of the time wanted to burn at the stake for heresy. Yet people in Germany rallied behind Luther and he remarkably lived a long and fruitful life, leading the world of his time back to faith in Jesus alone for salvation. His last verse captures some of the battles and victories in Christ Luther had.

The word of God will not be slow

While demon hordes surround us,

Though evil strike its cruelest blow

And death and hell confound us:

For even if distress

Should take all we possess,

And those who mean us ill

Should ravage, wreck, or kill

God’s kingdom is immortal!

Powerful words of confidence in God and are a commentary on what David prayed for his people Israel.

The final verse echoes what we learnt from Psalm 23,

“Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever”.

I think the words in Isaiah 40 : 11 help us understand what David is praying for his people,

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young”.

As we learnt in Psalm 23 David knew what keeping sheep was all about and this beautiful picture Isaiah 40 : 11 captures what David had in mind for his people. Not just leading them but carrying them in his arms.

What a great picture of a refuge is that. God smothering his people with his love and protection like a Good Shepherd picking up and baby lamb in his arms and cuddling it.

THREE NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATIONS OF PSALM 28 AND GOD THE ROCK.

 

In the New Testament “God the Rock” is Christ. As Peter taught in 1 Peter 2 : 4 –  8,

“4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,

a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in him

will never be put to shame.”

7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, 8 and,

“A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for”.

Peter is clearly saying that the rock we need to build our lives on is Jesus Christ. Lets have look at this concept in three other places in the New Testament.

1. BUILDING YOUR LIVES ON ROCK NOT SAND

Jesus spoke of building our lives on him and his teachings as being like building a house on a rock not sand.

Matthew 7 : 24 – 27

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

I heard a folk singer last year introduce a song he wrote after his house, which was build on the side of a hill slid away one day down the hill in very wet weather. He said he learnt his lesson from that dramatic experience and rebuilt on the top of the hill and put down much better foundations. Many people live their lives like they are building their house on sand or with poor foundations.

James uses  the image of a mirror to make the point that its not enough to just listen to the word of God we must look into it and act upon what we see. He brings this argument to a head in James 1 :  25,

“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does”.

So to have Jesus as a rock in our lives we must truly believe in him and act accordingly.

      2. WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE JESUS AS OUR ROCK IN OUR LIFE

Like David or Martin Luther we to can face the worst life and Satan can throw at us because Jesus is with us helping us. He is our Good Shepherd who carries his sheep when they need his loving help. We read of the great promise of this in Mathew 11 : 28 – 30, which says,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Here Jesus promises to help us and be like a rock for us in the midst of great difficulty.

I have known Jesus help in my life as I have faced various difficulties and I thank him for his help and protection every day of my life.

      3. THE PROMISE OF JESUS HELP AND PROTECTION

Just before Jesus ascended to heaven above he gave his disciples then and all from that day on a great job to do and with it a great promise of help and protection. We read of this in Matthew 28 : 18 – 20,

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus is telling us here that as we go out in his name we do not go alone because he is with us and this of course is possible through the Holy Spirit who indwells us once we come to real faith in him.

CONCLUSION

Jesus is our rock he promises to always be with us helping us every step of the way. He is behind us ready to catch us when we fall, with us to help us carry our burdens and before us making the way clear for us to go to heaven.

My Lord the Rock

(Based on Psalm 28)

Lord you are my rock

I am secure in you.

As I go into this world

Keep me in your view.

Pick me up when I fall

Through your mercy I pray

Help me lift my hands in praise

And always walk your way.

Trusting in the rock so sure

The rock that stands the storm.

Trusting in my Lord the rock

Who helps frail hearts transform.

 

 

Lord you are my rock

Help me to live life right.

Give me strength to avoid the drag

Of evil and it’s might.

May justice reign in this world

May evil have its day

Keep me secure in your word

And may your love prevail.

Trusting in the rock so sure

The rock that stands the storm.

Trusting in my Lord the rock

Who helps frail hearts transform.

 

Lord you are my rock

Your hands made it all.

Even though many do not know

By their rebellion they will fall.

I see the good things you do

You hear me when I pray

And your great love lifts me up

Supporting me each day.

Trusting in the rock so sure

The rock that stands the storm.

Trusting in my Lord the rock

Who helps frail hearts transform.

 

Lord you are my rock

Your power makes me strong.

Lord you protect me like a shield

From the evil raging throng.

I must trust you all my days

Lord may I not go wrong.

Fill my heart with your great joy

To always sing your song.

Trusting in the rock so sure

The rock that stands the storm.

Trusting in my Lord the rock

Who helps frail hearts transform.

 

Jesus you are our rock

The church is built on you.

Lord you keep us safe

And you will bring us through.

Guide your people shepherd Lord

To the eternal home above

Lift us up from the miry bog

To proclaim your great love.

Trusting in the rock so sure

The rock that stands the storm.

Trusting in my Lord the rock

Who helps frail hearts transform

 

By : Jim Wenman 

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