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The Rock That is Higher than I

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 3, 2021 7:00 am

The Rock That is Higher than I

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 3, 2021 7:00 am

We often refer to a strong person as a rocksomeone who is unshaken by trouble and strong in the face of adversity. David was a rock to the people of Israel. But the real Rock is God and David was very aware of the need for a Savior’s protection. Listen in to hear about this unique relationship between the King of Israel and the God in Whom he trusts.

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We often refer to a strong person as a rock.

Someone who is unshaken by trouble and strong in the face of adversity.

David was a rock to the people of Israel but the real rock is God, and David was very aware of the need for a Savior's protection.

Keep listening to hear about this unique relationship between the king of Israel and the God in whom he trusts to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically as David reflects on the strength of his God. I God, they can be turn to in times of trouble. He finds reason to praise.

Turn with us to Psalm 61 as Dr. Boyd shows us that we too should cry out to the rock and offer praise as David did when God answers our call.

Noted over the years in our hymnbook Trinity know the hymns are linked versus from the Bible verses are currently pop and usually they have within them a theme or phrase or statement that is reflected in the him quite often him is built directly upon the verse, or upon a passage from which the verse comes you like in our hymnal William Cushing sample safety of the rock that is higher than you'll find that it's tied Psalm 64 that's probably because of adverse and that Solomon speaks about God being a refuge to his people. Now when I think about that Psalm it seems for me to imagine the Cushing Road and without thinking about the Psalm to which we come now.

Psalm 61, 61, says lead me to the rock that is higher than I am. The Psalm says actually not safe to the rock that is higher than I am.

My soul in this conflicts Sonos would fly sinful. So, we are a divine mind when I beat out last rock of ages. I'm hiding in the hiding and the fighting in the last rock of ages I'm hiding in the people who have lived with the Lord for any length of time. No late force about him and the power of the image that contain such because life is often disappointing. We often go through very lonely times and it's frequently the case that in our sorrow or disappointment, or loneliness. We live in a time when there's literally no one in whom we can turn nobody whom we can turn for comfort or for sorrow I can think of all sorts of situations like that sometimes people simply live alone. People who were overrun with families or if I may suggest overrun with children wish they had a little bit more about experience, but when you have it in your living all alone and there's nobody there can really be a very discouraging time. Sometimes people don't live alone, but they live with someone who doesn't understand them at all. Perhaps with parents who are not Christians and even ridiculed the faith of the one who has been brought to faith in Christ, or perhaps an unbelieving husband or unbelieving wife.

Sometimes people just grown old and in their old age that people that have been close to them in the past, perhaps a spouse, family, friends, coworkers, whatever it may be people with whom they shared multiple times in past days as people simply die now are all alone to be studying this on the Christmastime because I think The holidays.

This is generally intensified for people for whom this is a problem. Holidays intensify everything you know if your harasser even more harassed Christmas and if you're lonely or even lonely Eric Christmas everybody else seemed to be having a wonderful time families collect all of the presence or bought and yet people who are alone are really only on the Psalm speaks to that Christians who have lived with God. Any length of time as I say no that in times like that God is the rock that whom they can turn someone who is greater on hiring stronger and wiser and more comforting than they can possibly be themselves. That's what the Psalm is about how it's identified as a Psalm of David. Nothing in the title tells us what.

It is like it comes from, but it can be many. It is like think of hiding in the wilderness before he became king. Certainly there were times that he must've felt very lonely there as well as in danger. Rather times. Later, when he was fleeing from his own son Absalom. He must've thought endangering lonely then but when he was in Jerusalem. Even when he was sitting upon the throne. There's a certain holiness, and those with high places of the very top of the pyramid are often loneliest of all, everybody's out to get it seems often it's the case we don't know exactly when, in David's life. This might've come from. But we can understand the splitting almost any time at all about an outline mother various ways of outlining some divided into two parts of your see how that's easy to do. Got a verses of Mirza Selah pause after verse or so is obvious way to do it is divided into two verses one through four versus five right a lot of commentators do that.

Some divided into three different stances, each of which make a request in the first two of which are followed by a reason for the request by God to answer it and then classroom with the violent would be verses 1 to 3 and then four and five, and finally six through eight other commentators suggest that you have an initial burst and you have three sets of pairs men finally have a single verse at the end the correspondence to the single verse at the beginning I take these outline seriously because I think they often help us to understand the Psalm, but in this case I don't think they really do by studying the various ways of outlining. It seems to me that anyone is equally good and that is particularly helpful and therefore the best way of looking at it is simply to go through the Psalms for the various things that it teaches various points of her mind to suggestion five points here. Maybe you find more than that. There are five that I say I want you to think through each of them personal settings like the very first phrase verse two is about the setting usually provides the background and gives us a way of interpreting or getting into the Psalm in this case, the setting is this feeling that the psalmist plans studies very far God praise he uses is from the ends of the earth.

I called to doubt ready June the very center of the earth was Jerusalem, and particularly the temple area and the ark of the covenant, where God was understood symbolically to dwell. So if a Jew would say well I fear that I'm at the ends of the earth. I'm far from you. What he really means is I'm far from Jerusalem to think about that in terms of David's life that could apply to any of the settings I gave earlier when he was fleeing from Absalom when he was fleeing from Saul, or perhaps even when he was just way on a military campaign well you look at the Psalm a little more closely and you find the verses six and seven indicate that the king is actually ruling in Jerusalem. McDavid is talking about himself, as I believe he is. That means he's king so I eliminates the possibility of him fleeing during the days of Saul, so maybe this is Absalom.

It could be as you look at this and remember that Psalm 61 follows immediately after Psalm 60 in the setting for Psalm 60 was when David was far away from Jerusalem fighting on the banks of the Euphrates would make great sense of the Psalm was written about a time like that far from Jerusalem fighting on the banks of the Euphrates River would literally seem to David like Bavarians of the earth. And maybe that's what he's talking about.

I really don't know is another way of looking at it. However, that's to take the phrase metaphorically. Marvin taken one of the good commentators does this, he says that the real value of the Psalm is in this very strong images with metaphorical richness says the most significant image of all this is image of being very far from God, I don't know how we should take, that means that David, the author is literally away from Jerusalem. He certainly was, at times, and that could be whether it's to be understood metaphorically. But I do know that it's in the metaphorical sense and applies to us as a progress.

Jerusalem is not the center of the earth and even Philadelphia doesn't exactly qualify for that and it's hard to think of anything that really is center if you're thinking geographically, but if you're thinking metaphorically. You and I go through times all the time when we do feel far from God. We go through those end of the earth experiences we find ourselves crying out to God in times just like that. I call out we say even as my heart grows faint. That's ascetic second point, I want you to say is that what they been goddesses Stern the rock rock is higher than he is now that image of God being a rock is very common in the songs we've already seen in a number of times matter-of-fact. The very next Psalms on 62.

It occurs three times by an adverse to the alone is my rock and my salvation that's repeated in verse six when verse seven uses the image as well. We studied it at some length.

When we were studying Psalm 18 is used for times and that's all in an interesting progression. Psalm 18 you got these phrases, the Lord is my rock, my God is my rock is a rock except our God and the very last idea. Praise be to my rock to say that is a wonderful sequence. Now that's the image that David is using here you understand why that meant so much to him because he was so often running away from someone when he did he fled in the Judean wilderness. That's what he understood so well you been there many years when he was young shepherd with a sheet and I suppose it's true that he literally knew virtually every cranny book rock cave and hiding place of that vast wilderness when we got on the rock. He thought immediately of a place where he could run through and be safe now thinking of God.

That way God is the one to whom he can turn in all these troubles every time we come across this image of the rock in the Psalms we find it treated in a slightly different way. However, the not the case with David simply uses the image like little package is the bodies that whenever he has a need for it in the Psalm he just plugs it in treated differently every time. And when we look at it here in the Psalm we see that there are two special ideas.

First of all he talks about the rock being higher than he is very important is when you and I are down. We think naturally that way we think about what we need is somebody is greater than we are stronger than we are more helpful than we are and sometimes returned to people that way. But if were Christians, we naturally turn to God happens easily when were down with the top we don't usually think that way when were feeling good after all. David apparently in the psalmist getting you think of them at the top being at the top.

And sometimes when we are leaving there were sufficient of ourselves were doing all right. We don't think about rockets fire.

We are they've never made that mistake usually always realize always knew always had in his mind that he served a God who is greater and he is and he knew in the depths of his heart that he always always always needed that God, the people who looked after the cake might've thought of David as their rock.

David knew that he needed a rock himself rock with higher he is the second interesting thing about this and said he has to be led to the rock that's a prayer you actually lead me to the rock that is higher than mine.

I don't know exactly what he was thinking about when he said that Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher makes a very good point of this study translates it naturally into Christian terminology is as you and I need a lot of our rock is Jesus Christ our salvation.

We need the rock we have the rock in him but as he points out, we also need to be led to him other words, we not only need the salvation that God has provided. In Jesus Christ we need the Holy Spirit to lead us to the rock because left ourselves were never going to find never going to have the strength to stand upon it literally has to lift us up and place upon the rock and establish our goings, which is the way David writes in other places version has an interesting illustration about in this section of the commentary the treasurer David that I'm thinking of in his day great deal of shipping and precarious ships to place around the English coast because the ghost is walking. It was often the case that ships would be racks on rocks that marked the coast of England. Sometimes the Mariners would be thrown into the sea be struggling. They could make it to the shore and there would be this enormous path that would rise up in front of them that they can only get up on top of the rock they be all right, but they couldn't do it.

Here they were being battered by the waves bottom Spurgeon says that there was one place where there were a number of rocks and Amanda lived on the top of that particular cliff went to the trouble of carving steps in the face of the rock so that Mariners were wrecked could actually make their way up the precarious and nearly impossible surface to the top in time the rocks worn was hard to get up there, especially if they were whacked of the storm or something like that. So somebody in a later age drug stanchions in the rock and put a chain so anybody who could grab the chain could make it to the top mouth. Spurgeon says you see that's what God does for us when we are saved we think of our salvation when were standing on the rock week. We think it is a wonderfully solid rock.

And indeed, it is before we come to Jesus Christ is almost an imposing thing.

It's hard for us to get there. I talked to many people I get Christians and they say to themselves well I I believe it's a wonderful gospel but I just can't quite get there.

I can't quite believe that I can't quite calm when you say here's David saying lead me to the rock and Spurgeon makes the point that is always right to pray for God to lead us to himself something unworthy about that. You see, I asked the question is God your rock led to him if you say no, God is not yet. I walk and I have not been led to it will then ask him to do it. You can ask God to do anything and certainly a prayer like that lead me to the rock that is higher than not lead me to Jesus Christ but me the grace to believe on the plant my feet up on. That's the kind of prayer God loves to hear and answer on the days of Jesus Christ was a man of one of the believe on him but was having a hard time doing it and he said to Jesus, I believe, but Lord help my unbelief.

Nothing wrong with that at your problem is what you should say God will certainly do it on the third thing I'd like you to say is that that image of the rock is not the only one the David users versus three and four ring and for additional images. Any number of images might be listed there are four of them here. God is so infinite great. You could never exhausted, but these four are important and if you look at them carefully, you'll see that there are arranged so that they become increasingly warm and intimate as the song goes a long story short song movement with only see the movement in these images look at the refuge tower tent in the shoulders of your wings. How about the refuge.

Well, that's an idea that's frequently linked to the rock so it's natural that David would say that in verse three, I think for example of song 18 verse to my rock, in whom I take refuge, or Psalm 31 my rock of refuge or Psalm 62 my mighty rock, my refuge, or Psalm 90 for the rock, in whom I take refuge, is a that calls to mind the kind of retreat.

David hand when he fled into the wilderness he found God to be as walk. Now the second image is out of the tower. Things have changed a little bit here.

See if power is not in the wilderness power as part of the walls that surround the city, and so when you come to this image are thinking of the city and the kind of retreat you have here is quite different to seek one who is led to the rock in the wilderness is running away.

He's a fugitive, but one of those into the power as a citizen of the city and the tower is there for his defense and, presumably, is not alone when he goes into the tolerant of other people there live in the city were there to help women work with them as they defend the city look at the third image, the image of attempt now I suggest a number of things you see you have here a fairly nomadic people somber dwelling in cities, but many were Bedouin and some still are in the holy land.

It suggests a domestic scene in which a host might welcome strangers when you are welcome to somebody's tent.

He had a responsibility toward you had to be hospitable.

He had to defend you by all the power that he had all the land is conjured up by the same but there might be something even more in the word I would tent and sometimes translated tabernacle and the severity word that's used of the wilderness Tabernacle, which was the place where the ark of the covenant was kept.

David moved the occupant to Jerusalem, they didn't have the Temple yet that didn't get built for the time of Solomon. They did have the tabernacle.

So when David is saying. I long to dwell in your tents forever.

What is really thinking about is dwelling the very presence of God in the tabernacle say where the ark is Very near to it. Now I suggest that's really what he has in mind because that's an idea. He expresses another language. In other places.

Psalm 27, for example, one thing I ask of the Lord. This is what I seek. I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple is happening here.

These images are drawing us closer and closer to God. He starts in the wilderness on the rock and now weighs in Jerusalem and the Temple close to God and prepares us for the final image the shoulder of your wings now. We saw that already didn't weigh in 1057. Many of the commentators take that as a reference to the wings of the cherubim, which were over the ark that would certainly fit the flow of the images with what I suggested when we were studying that earlier is that it doesn't say the wings of the cherubim, although it might well have said that it says the wings of God in my argument would be the David intends that literally. It's an image of course doesn't actually have wings but it does suggest this image of a mother hen or a motherboard shouldering the checks and it's very warm you say and very intimate. I I think that's the way the message flows movement flows in these verses David starts off feeling far from God as he draws close to God. He finds that God is drawing closer and closer to him and as he finally expresses himself of the image.

She says this is nothing better than this to be shouldered beneath the wings close to the very breast of God. See maybe intimate but Dave is not afraid to be among with God. Neither should we.

You can be as intimate with God as you like. As a matter fact that's what God wants.

He wants his people to approach in exactly that way I would come to verses six and seven in their prayer, in which at least on the surface. David apparently ceases to pray for himself and somebody else is praying for the king. I say that because this is in the third person say the first section of this everything we've looked at so far as in the first person I cried. I do this I do that now all of a sudden it says increase the days of the king's life is years for many generations maybe enthroned in God's presence forever appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him now way commentators handle as most of them would say. Well that is a later conclusion in the song, even assuming the David wrote it. I don't all believe that. But even assuming that David wrote it, you have to assume they would say that he wrote verses one through five and eight and then at some later date other hand, is this is a prayer for the king.

Well that's possible is nothing wrong with that but it's also quite possible.

You can argue this as well.

The David simply changes from the first person third person for stylistic reasons, and these talking about himself. As a matter of fact, per se seems to follow on accuracy. He says increase the days of the king's life establishing for many many generations. In verse eight says and if you believe that then I will ever sing and praise your argument of you look at it in terms of what the verses are actually saying there's a very good case to be made out for the fact that David actually writes about himself in the third person. We suggest that whether you do that are not what you say if somebody else writing or whether it's David writing but actually I think this is none of these verses is not about David but it has to be about the Messiah, Jesus Christ wide because the word forever. Some phrases in that would be understood with David or his successor, Solomon, are those who followed him increase the days of the king's life. It's a natural thing to pray the king is a good king made with a long, long time is years for many generations.

You could say that to. Although you may be stretching it a bit along is a generation for the years, many generations after the an 80 year reign might be stretching it a bit.

But at least you could say it, but not perseverant may he be enthroned in God's presence forever.

That's not the way of man, it has to be a way of a God man, the Messiah, I suggested David knew that and that's the way which is praying the reason I say that is because when the word first came to David from the prophet Nathan told about it and second Samuel seven. That's the way David responded-came to David after David had been praying to God permission to build him a house. He wanted to build the temple in Jerusalem and God's responses that David was not the one that would do that. David was a man of war and God would have his house built by a man of peace. It was going to be built by David successor and son, King Solomon said God to build me a house bluntly that I'm going to build you a house, and then God spelled out in your days are over and you rest with your fathers.

I will raise up your offspring to succeed you will come from your own body and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. Now is a certain sense in which that was fulfilled by Solomon is the one came from David and actually built the temple in Jerusalem, but it means much more than that because the true temple and the kingdom that is going to last forever is the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in the temple is a church that's what that really involves and this would David recognize because he responded descended Nathan and he did it in a prayer to God he said is that the way of a human being for his throne to be established forever. The answer to that is obviously no other human last forever. So that is talking about something that is going to last forever has to be the kingdom of the God man, the Messiah, that's the same sort of thing we have here. Just think back over the Psalm.

At this point David began at the very beginning.

Feeling far from God is calling out to God, from the ends of the earth as he calls out to God and draws closer to him. He finds the goddess growing closer to David God is his refuge and his tower missed 10 attorneys able to take refuge of the shoulder of his wings this reason. To think of the Messiah, God's great promise of the Savior is going to comment kingdom is going to last forever. Something to praise God for and I the course is exactly what event that's the way the Psalm ends verse eight, then will I ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day should not be true of us as well.

You may be feeling particularly lonely just now along you draw close to God, you find that he'll draw close to you and Linda praising him because that is the way it should be a Christian people.

How do we praise and well we praise him above all in Jesus Christ. David knew and we know them even better than David did the as we know more about it. We know what is done for us in Jesus Christ. We know the salvation that is come to us through the Messiah. And if you think back over the Psalm all those images you find that that's exactly what Jesus Christ has become to us.

David speaks of God as his refuge is in Jesus Christ our refuges and he the rock that is higher than we are.

He is very God of very God is the creed say is that rock of agencies. The one upon whom my feet have been fixed.

The rock of our salvation. We sing rock of ages left for me. Let me hide myself in the Jesus is not God's talk about God as a power Jesus Christ become our tolerance. The one and to whom we could one be safe. The image of the tempter tabernacle.

That's the very word the apostle John used in the first chapter in the prologue of his Gospel, where we read the Word became flesh and lived for a while among us in the Greek language look for a while. Among this is actually the word tabernacle attended among us but refers to say to the incarnation Jesus Christ primarily uniquely the incarnate one and then you think of that phrase shouldered under your wings and you remember Jesus saying about the city of Jerusalem, all Jerusalem Jerusalem all often when I have gathered you under my wings like a hen gathers the checks and you would not yet. That's the way he's gathered us the Fellowship of the church under the protecting comforting wonderful shadow of his wings I am this way. Sometimes you have to feel at the end of the earth before you really come to experience how wonderful Jesus Christ is. I think that's what St. Augustine was thinking about when he wrote on one occasion these words lesson they are godly are oppressed and vexed in the church or congregation for this purpose when they are pressed they should cry and when they cry they should be heard and when they are hired that they should praise God.

Augustine always has a wonderful way of putting it, sums it up brilliantly in those words in a Christian was experience that is a happy person in the prayer. Father, we thank you for your wonderful provision for our needs.

Provide alternate you provide times of joy and happiness and fellowship, and you also provide for us when were lonely we feel far from other people.

And worst of all, when we feel the ends of the earth in our separation from your work in the lives hearts of people who feel that way now grant that instead of despairing in their loneliness they might be given grace to turn to you as they cried a year.

They might have the consciousness that they've been heard.

That having been heard. I might end by praising you the great God, who we have come to know Rex Carson. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church. To learn more about the alliance visit alliance and while you're there, visit our online store reformed resources. You can find messages and books from Dr. Boyce and other outstanding teachers and theologians, or ask for a free reformed resources catalog by calling 1-800-488-1888. Please take the time to write to us and share how the Bible study our has impacted you. We love to hear from you and pray for you. Our address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601. Please consider giving financially to help keep the Bible study our impacting people for decades to come.

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