For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
Who Israel's Rock was, we know — Christ. And He is our Rock too, — for strength, for protection, for spiritual supplies, for a refuge to hide in, — we have no other. And He will be ours upon the terms upon which He was willing to be a Rock unto Israel; namely, upon a preserved covenant, a separation, a keeping ourselves wholly unto Him, a forsaking of all forbidden alliances, a renouncing of all other trusts. The words will suggest to be considered, not only the sufficiency of the believer's Rock in itself, but also its confessed superiority over all other dependencies. And first, as to the image itself. The comparison of God to a rock is of frequent occurrence in Scripture. The reason for the selection of this image no doubt is to be found in the natural scenery of Palestine, which is often a key to the right understanding of much Scripture poetry. The Israelites both loved and were justly proud of their rocks. They stood, as it were, the guardians of their rich and fertile valleys, they were the source of their rivers whose water refreshed their fields, and amidst the strong munitions of these rocks they found a refuge from invading foes. The walls and fortresses of their cities, and in later days the glorious temple itself, rested on the strength of those deep foundations. The moral associations, therefore, which would be called up in the mind of a pious Jew by the image of a rock, would be those of stability, permanence, protection, blessing. He could not look on the hills as they stood round about Jerusalem, or upon the rocks as they frowned ruggedly on his native shore, without seeing in them types of that invisible presence which compassed him on every side, without remembering that God was his Rock, and that the Most High God was his Redeemer. And like happy associations are called up in the Christian mind when we think of Christ as our Rock. Thus the image suggests the security, strength, and firm foundation for our religious trust and hope. These announcements are very welcome to the first feelings of our religious nature. In matters relating to our salvation we all feel the need of a sure footing. We like not to build our house for heaven on the sand; on a yielding, treacherous, shifting basis of rational conjecture, or not very improbable hypothesis. We must have our goings set upon a Rock, and this Rock we have in Christ. He must have lain in the bosom of the Father, who could reveal such things, and yet He must be no intangible thing, no irrational thing, no mere phantom from the spirit world; He must be God manifest in the flesh. Again, in having Christ for their Rock, believers feel they have a sure defence against all their enemies. Against their temptations, lest they should prevail; or their fears, lest they should enslave; or their trials, lest they should oppress and cast down. The rocks of Palestine abounded in deep hollows or caverns, in which the people often betook themselves for shelter against the invading foe. And the same idea is employed in Scripture to describe a spiritual refuge. Thus David exclaims, — "But the Lord is my defence, and my God is the Rock of my refuge." Whilst Isaiah in a passage strikingly expressive of the good man's safety under all outward temptations says, — "He dwelleth on high, his place of defence is the munitions of rocks." The Rock of our salvation, then, in things spiritual, is also the Rock of our defence in things temporal. Godliness hath the promise of both worlds, and though it be true that the storms of time and adversity may come upon us, and breach upon breach may shake the strong foundations of our spiritual trust; yet even against these outward ills God condescends to be our Rock. He knows that our souls would faint if some merciful limit were not placed to the power of our enemies to hurt us, or to the strength of our temptations to overcome us, or to the grievousness of the chastening which tries our spirit, or to the greatness of the fears which affright our souls; and therefore in all our trials and adversities, whensoever they oppress us, He bids us to our refuge, leads us to the Rock that is higher than we are, and higher than our dangers too. And there we dwell safely; we feel as those who are drawn up into God's secret place, covered with His feathers, screened under His shadow, hidden in the hollow of His hand. "And a man shall be as a hiding- place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; a river of water in a dry place, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Once more, we contemplate the text as showing that there is in Christ our Rock a rich provision for all spiritual comforts and necessities. Three kinds of produce are mentioned in Scripture as coming from the rocks of Judea, which it can be no strain to regard as strikingly emblematical of what we have in Christ. The first is water. "He brought streams out of the rocks," it is said in the seventy-eighth Psalm, "and caused water to run down like rivers." Then another produce of the rock was honey and oil. "He made him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock." There is not much in the present physical geography of Palestine to say much upon this allusion; however, it may suffice for general accuracy of illustration to observe, that olive trees were wont to thrive most on rocky soils, and the aromatic plants and shrubs to which bees are naturally attracted, abounded in the mountainous parts of Judea, and it has been suggested that nothing is more possible than that deposits of honey should sometimes be found in the cavities of the rocks. Who sees not the aptness of the emblem to represent Christ? "How sweet are Thy words unto my mouth; yea, sweeter than honey unto my taste." Gold, and silver, and precious stones were among the produce of these rocks. "Surely," says Job, "there is a vein for the silver, and a place for the gold, where they find it"; but how deep must men dig into the heart of the natural rock before they will find such treasures as David found. "I love Thy commandments; more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold." "The law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver." Yes, wisdom may be found of us, but it must be searched for as for hid treasure; "and this treasure is hid in Christ." Whatever connects man with God, or the sinner with his hope, everything comes to us from the rock of Christ. And yet the half of its affluent and hidden stores has not been laid open to us. But we must not pass over without noticing the compared view with the believer's Rock here suggested, or rather its confessed superiority over all other dependencies. "For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." Of course, the primary allusion here is to the gods of idolatry, the blocks of wood and stone worshipped of heathen nations. But the principle of comparison will manifestly admit of being applied much further, and so made to embrace the trusts of all who know not God, or who reject the merciful overture of His Gospel. The comparison to be instituted, therefore, may be said to be generally between Christ as the revealed medium and method of a sinner's justification on the one hand, and any of the unauthorised methods of acceptance which men may have invented for themselves on the other.
(D. Moore, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.