For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
I. THE "ROCK" OF A MAN IS THAT ON WHICH HE BUILDS HIS HOPE; THAT IN WHICH HE SEEKS HIS SAFETY; that in which he finds his rest; that from which he looks for his satisfaction and his pleasure. The world has many "rocks," but they are all distinguished by this one characteristic - they are "of the earth, earthy." They are in the world, and of the world; and with the world they terminate. Men set up for themselves various rocks. The rich man's stronghold is his wealth; the great man's confidence is his power; the self-righteous man's vain trust is his own fancied goodness. But all agree in this, that it is something other than God, something short of God, on which they repose. God is not Himself the Rock of their confidence. They look not to Him for the portion of their souls, the joy of their hearts. If in trouble, they turn to the creature; God, their Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, is left out in all their schemes of happiness, and in all their anticipations of future good. But it is not so with those whom God hath taught. He hath taught them as the first fundamental lesson in the school of true wisdom, that their souls need an infinite portion, in order that they may be filled with good. He has taught them, that that infinite portion was originally Himself, but that they lost that portion when they fell from their God. He has taught them, that in themselves and of themselves they are "poor, and blind, and miserable, and wretched, and naked." They have no righteousness in which to appear before His pure eyes; they have no means in themselves to provide either against life's vicissitudes or eternity's disclosures.
II. Having thus the Rock of the believer, and the rocks of the unbeliever, side by side, suffer us to challenge the whole world to the controversy; AND UPON THEIR OWN SHOWING WE WILL PROVE THE TRANSCENDENCY OF OUR ROCK AS COMPARED WITH THEIRS. Were we indeed to take the testimony of those who have tried and proved the Rock of salvation — and those who have tried and proved it can surely best estimate its worth; were we to take the testimony of the ransomed spirits of the just, that now surround the Rock of their salvation in heaven, they would with one voice and with one spirit declare, "There is none in heaven in comparison with Him; none is worthy of a thought, or a hope, or an affection, in comparison with Him."
1. We bring forward, then, the indirect and undesigned testimony of the world in favour of the Rock of our salvation, in the first instance, in that the world gives to that Rock a measure of respect and reverence wholly inconsistent with the manner in which, in their heart and life, they treat that Rock. Why is it that you find that for the most part the men who never give their hearts to Christ, nor their lives to His service, yet render to Him an indirect and reluctant homage? They pay certain reverence to His day, certain regard to His sanctuary, certain homage to His ordinances and His laws. They will "do many things" on behalf of the religion of Jesus Christ; and yet, in the face of all these concessions, they withhold from Him their heart, and they "will not have Him to reign over them." They themselves, then, "being the judges," they admit to the religion of Christ, that there is in it a power and a truth and a majesty that they cannot wholly overcome or repudiate.
2. This, too, is the more strikingly shown when we further bring forward that respect and homage which they often pay to the worth and to the excellency of the true servants of Christ. Where, too, is the bold, daring scoffer that has not oftentimes felt an inward conviction of the worth and excellency of the servants of Christ, even though he has been able to stifle the expression of his inward feeling? "Themselves being judges," the man of God had an elevation, a purity, a dignity that they knew not, and yet the worth and the power of which they could not but feel.
3. And much more is this indirect tribute of the enemies of "our Rock" to the Rock of our salvation often rendered when the servants of God have passed to their rest, and their obnoxious proximity and their rebuking example no more disturb the false peace of the men of this world. Over the grave of the true and undissembled servant of God, how seldom, even from the lips of the bad, you hear anything but respect and love! "The memory of the just is blessed."
4. But we have another testimony rendered by the worldly and the wicked to the Rock of the Christian that is more striking; and that is, the high standard that they set up for the righteous to observe. What is more common than to find men of the world seeing with an eagle eye any little defection or deviation from high principle in the soldier of the cross? — saying — "It would not have mattered if he had not professed to be religious; hut for one who calls himself a Christian thus to behave, it is intolerable."
5. But further than this: you find the world again and again bringing forward against Christians charges, that if they had been incurred by any of their own company, they would never have thought of doing so much as adduce. What they would regard in the world as almost evidence of spirit and of high-mindedness, they cannot tolerate in the Christian.
6. But there is a further testimony, that the world cannot withhold in spite of itself — which it is, thank God, daily giving; and that is, the multitudes who are brought out of the world, and brought to the Rock of our hope. The Redeemer draws one and another to Himself; and that, not by holding out to them earthly bribes and temporal inducements, but in the face of the world's scoff and frown, and often of the loss of reputation and of every earthly advantage. How many a time has the messenger of Christ been summoned to the bed of sickness! how many a time has the trembling and dying man then begun to cry — "Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I!" Happy for him if he hath net begun too late, and if the house of his confidence is not falling in ruins around him, when it is too late to "fly for refuge to the hope set before him."
(H. Stowell, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.