Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Rock That Is Higher Than I!


In 1 Samuel 23, David is being very hotly pursued by a vastly superior force, the army of King Saul. David, with the blessing of God, has just saved the border city of Keilah from the Philistines. He not only saved the city, he enriched it with the livestock he took from the fleeing enemy! Grateful friends, these Keilahites? Sadly, no. They were not only not grateful to David, they were prepared to give him and his band of soldiers to King Saul. All Saul needed to do was to show up and ask. David, being the man of God that he was, inquired of the Lord as to what he should do. God told him to flee and flee he did! David took his band into the Wilderness of Ziph, one of the most inhospitable places on earth. Desert heat by day, frigid cold at night. There is almost no water, scarce vegetation and little animal life. But by the Grace of God, a man will be soon dead in Ziph. Like their traitorous cousins in Keilah, the Ziphite nomads not only were willing to give up David to Saul, they went to Saul and pleaded for him to come and do it! Hearing this, David fled even deeper into the wilderness and wound up at Maon. Maon is approximately 30 miles SSW of Bethlehem and approximately 20 miles due west of the Dead Sea and the Engedi Oasis. In Maon, David found a rock on a mountain that he used for hiding. However, Saul soon discovered where he was and sent his army scurrying up the mountain while David and his men scurried to the other side of the mountain. The only thing that separated the two armies was this large rock. Just as the men of Saul were about to catch up to David and his band, King Saul hears that the Philistines have launched an incursion into Israel. He abandons his search for David and returns home to fight his real enemies.

Of course, this fortuitous event is totally Providential and the grateful men name this rock and this place in Hebrew - Selahammachlekoth (pronounced sela-ham-mack-lee-koth). The best English translation is “Rock of Divisions.” Though not inspired, the Targum [1] says that; “…the heart of the king was divided to go hither and thither.” The Scripture is clear, however, that much division did take place that day!

- The rock divided David from Saul.
- The rock protected David and opposed Saul.
- The rock divided the pursued and the pursuer.
- The rock divided wrong from right.
- The rock divided the righteous from the un-righteous.
- The rock divided the strong from the weak.
- The rock divided the past from the future.
- The rock divided those who would soon perish from those who would live on.
- The rock divided the minority remnant of God from the satanic majority.
- The rock divided the faithful from the faithless.
- The rock divided the hunted from the hunter.
- The rock divided the praying from the pragmatic.
- The rock divided the powerless from the powerful.
- The rock divided the Godly from the godless.
- The rock divided the single minded from the double minded.
- The rock divided the peaceful from the violent.
- The rock divided the pious from the profane.
As we read and study this passage we cannot help but realize that though we have no physical rock today to save us, we do have a spiritual rock – The Rock – Jesus Christ! Hear our brother Paul:

For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. – I Corinthians 10:1-4 (ESV)

Christians know that salvation is found in Christ and Christ alone through repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). However, the same ROCK that saves and hides Christians from sin and death opposes and judges those who are outside of Christ. Jesus Christ is the “Rock of Divisions!” He is our selahammachlekoth! Listen to His very words:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. - Matthew 10:34-36 (ESV)

Jesus Christ is the “Rock of Ages!” He is either our Savior or our Judge. He will divide the wheat from the chaff, the lambs from the goats and the righteous and the un-righteous at His coming! While still in this “veil of tears,” Christ is our Rock and our Salvation on whom we can call upon for comfort, salvation and protection – just as did David and his men! Observe the words of that familiar hymn, “The Rock that is Higher than I!”

Oh! sometimes the shadows are deep,
And rough seems the path to the goal,
And sorrows, sometimes how they sweep
Like tempests down over the soul.

Oh! sometimes how long seems the day,
And sometimes how weary my feet!
But toiling in life’s dusty way,
The Rock’s bless├Ęd shadow, how sweet!

Then near to the Rock let me keep
If blessings or sorrows prevail,
Or climbing the mountain way steep,
Or walking the shadowy vale.

Refrain

O then to the Rock let me fly
To the Rock that is higher than I
O then to the Rock let me fly
To the Rock that is higher than I! [2]

Dear friend, on which side of the Rock are you? David’s or Saul’s? Division and judgment are coming!

Endnotes:
[1] The Targum is an Aramaic paraphrase of the Hebrew Scriptures via e-sword.com
[2] via: http://lyrics.astraweb.com/displayp.cgi?f=hymns..unknown..rock_that_is_higher_than_i

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