He Only Is My Rock

By Tom Wacaster

My soul waiteth in silence for God only:
From him cometh my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation:
He is my high tower;
I shall not be greatly moved
(Psalms 62:1-2).

There is something about a large rock that intrigues the mind. I’m not talking about the small rocks you might stub your toe on, or the little pebbles that might grace a gravel driveway. I am speaking of large rocks such as The Rock of Gibraltar, Mount Rushmore, El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, or Stone Mountain. It has been my privilege to visit the Grand Tetons, drive to the top of Pike’s Peak, and cross the Appalachian Mountains into Virginia. Many years ago I had the opportunity to spend a few night’s in the midst of the Rockies, and view the majestic mountains that surrounded me. To the southwest I could see Mt. Massive at 14,441 feet. Further to the south lay Mt. Elbert at 14,433 feet. Travelling west you are surrounded by the Mosquito Mountain range (with peaks rising 13,000 feet), and the Collegiate Mountain range (with Harvard, Princeton, and Penn  Mountains, all over 14,000 feet). Those mountains stand as a mighty manifestation of our God's creative power. Their very presence admits to the power of the One Who made it all. Let those who deny the existence of our God, or who question the literal account of Creation as set forth in Genesis 1-3, explain to us the origin of such majestic peaks. Only the fool would deny the great and mighty power of God. I weep when I think that those in control of the institutions of higher learning and public education deny the very One Who made all this, and that the next generation may very well look at these same mountains and declare that it all happened by blind chance, giving the glory, NOT to the God of Heaven, but to the foolishness of man's anti-God philosophies. Now listen to the Psalmist. Because God is our Rock, as God’s children we are blessed with the following:

Confidence: “My soul waiteth in silence for God only: From him cometh my salvation” (verse 1). Here David expresses his absolute trust in God. He recognizes that God is the true source of deliverance and salvation. He perceives of God as his rock, salvation, and high tower, and expresses confidence that he will not be moved by the enemy. We have before us a man who had seriously contemplated his life, the condition of his soul, and, having taken stock of all of his resources, declared, “My soul waits in silence for God alone. It is from Him whence I derive my salvation.” Yes, God is our Rock; available to all, but sadly embraced by few.

Calmness: The Psalmist’s mind was at ease in knowing that all was in the hands of God. Consequently he would wait “in silence.” The idea is that the Psalmist had a sense of calmness. All was in the hands of God; Jehovah was worthy of his trust and confidence. Barnes captured the Psalmist’s sentiments: “The feeling is that which exists when we have entrusted all to God; when, having entire confidence in his power, his goodness, his wisdom, his mercy, we commit the whole case to him as if it were no longer our own” (Barnes, 167). The New Testament equivalent is found in 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your anxiety upon him, for he careth for you.” When once the soul realizes its complete dependence upon God for release from its troubles, the peace for which one seeks will finally be his to enjoy. “Such is the calmness - the peace - the quiet - the silence of the soul when all is left with God” (Barnes, 169). Several years ago a submarine was being tested and had to remain submerged for many hours. When it returned to the harbor, the captain was asked, "How did the terrible storm last night affect you?" The officer looked at him in surprise and exclaimed, "Storm? We didn't even know there was one!" The sub had been so far beneath the surface that it had reached the area known to sailors as "the cushion of the sea." Although the ocean may be whipped into huge waves by high winds, the waters below are never stirred. If we would find true peace we must “wait upon God” and let Him direct us by His word. In this connection Spurgeon noted, “Faith can hear the footsteps of coming salvation because she has learned to be silent” (Spurgeon, 48).

Completeness: I am using the word here to emphasize the fact that God, and God alone, is our source of strength. We find our completeness in Him. The emphasis throughout the Psalm is the complete and unique assistance that God gives to His children. The Psalmist was writing to friend and foe alike and telling them, “It is from HIM, and HIM ALONE that my salvation comes.” Our generation needs to learn this important lesson. We need to learn to listen to the voice of God as it is communicated in His holy word.  Unfortunately the noise of the world often drowns out the voice of God. It is often the case that men fail to hear God’s message because they refuse to listen. Instead, they turn their ears towards every “wind of doctrine” that might blow their way (Eph. 4:14). They are enamored with the claim of modern day revelation as they seek for signs and wonders to confirm whatever ‘sophisticated silliness’ they wish to believe. The completeness we have in Christ is emphasized is such passages as 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:3, and Colossians 1:28-29. No wonder the Psalmist declared, “He only is my rock and my salvation.  Old Testament history teaches us that God will not allow us to have His counsel mixed with the counsel of false gods. It is either ALL God, and ONLY God, or it is NO God at all. David would trust in none other, nor would he seek salvation from any other source. The New Testament equivalent is found in Acts 4:12, “And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven that is given among men, wherein we must be saved.”

Courage: Because God was David’s “Rock,” he could courageously declare, “I shall not be greatly moved. I don’t know who wrote the following, but it certainly captures the sentiments of a man like David who recognized God as his Rock and Tower in life:

I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chincy giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotion, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, or slow up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till I drop, preach all that I know, and work till He comes. And when He comes to get His own, He'll have no trouble recognizing me. My colors are clear! (copied into my personal notes in 2006; source not recorded).

In this life we will have tribulation. But it is the “big picture” that we must keep before us. The ultimate outcome will be victory, not defeat. We may occasionally be “moved,” but not “removed.” That victory is possible because God is our Rock!

Laying Up The Word of God In Our Heart

By Tom Wacaster

David wrote, “Thy word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalms 119:11). God’s word is a powerful seed that, when laid up in the good and honest heart, will produce abundant fruit (Luke 8:5-15). How many times have you found yourself saying something to the effect, “I wish I could remember”? If we had a dollar for every time we made that statement, no doubt all of us would be rich. But true riches are not measured by dollars and cents, and if each of us would take the time and the effort to put the word of God deep into our heart we would be richer by far. I must confess that over the past couple of decades I have become somewhat lazy so far as taking the time to memorize certain precious passages from God’s word. I will also admit that I am the worse for it. Hence, the reason for my thoughts in this week’s article.

Memory is a priceless treasure given to us by God. I filed the following quote away more than three decades ago, but it is thought provoking: “Without memory the soul of man would be a poor, destitute, naked being, with an everlasting blank spread over it, except the fleeting ideas of the present moment.” How many stories have we read or heard of over the years that tell of men and women in difficult situations who relied on their memory to see them through.  In the 1950’s J. Russell Morse was imprisoned by the Chinese Communists for 18 months, 15 of them in solitary confinement, for no other reason than the fact that he professed to be a Christian. He endured severe torture for his faith. He later would write that it was the promises and precepts of God’s word that helped him to endure. When the war in Vietnam came to a close, and the prisoners returned to America, we learned that many of them endured their captivity because of their memories of loved ones, and in many cases, their recall of passages in God’s word that gave them strength. The words of an unknown author come to mind, words that have been repeated through the years but that are as relevant today as when first penned:

This book contains the mind of God, the state of men, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrine is holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decision are immutable.  Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's charter.  Here Paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the ways of hell disclosed. Christ is the grand object, our good its design, and the redemption of man its end.  It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.  It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, a river of pleasure. It is given you life, will be opened in the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He immediately turned to the word of God to deflect the fiery darts of the evil one. The inability of men to overcome the temptations of sin is in direct proportion to their lack of knowledge of God’s word. Sin is not the consequence of weakness, up-brining, social maladjustment, parental heritage, or social pressure. It is not a disease, though it can lead to numerous diseases. Sin is not some personality quirk that is inborn or a product of some gene pool. Sin is the consequence of man’s lack of faith in God and the absence of God’s word in the heart. If all men would do as David did, and take the time to lay up God’s word in their heart, they, like David, would find that those occasions when they sin against God would be much less. The word of God is “able to build you up, and give you the inheritance  among all them that are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). It is the seed by which men are born anew (James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23). It is the preventative for sin (Psa. 119:11), and the only means by which men can come to be saved (Rom. 1:16). The greatest difference in men is not physical size, strength, age, ancestry, possession or the circumstances that surround them. The great divide between all of humanity is the extent to which they know or do not know the words of their Creator. It is the only difference that will last through eternity and the only benchmark that will ultimately matter once this life is over. This is precisely why the apostle Paul wrote, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16a).

Can you not see, therefore, the benefit of memorizing God’s word? You can say you won’t, you can say you don’t, but don’t say you can’t.  H.H. Halley, the author of the Bible Handbook was 39 years old when he began using his time on long train trips to memorize prominent verses from the Bible. In a few years he could recite more than one third of the entire Bible. Age is no barrier. I read of a man past 74 years of age who learned a large portion of the New Testament. Nor is our education level a hindrance to the memorization of God’s word. The late Jack Bryant, member of the Lord’s church in Briar, Texas, was a talented artist. He knew rather large portions of the Bible and could quote them readily. His conversation was peppered with references to the Scriptures. But Jack could not read or write. He memorized passages by listening to them on tape and committing them to memory. Here, then, are some practical suggestions to help all of us put the word of God deep in our heart and our mind.

First, you need to give it your full attention. When you set your mind to memorizing a passage, examine it carefully, get a full picture of the passage; both the thought and the wording. If you can get the thought of the passage, the words can be filled in as you work toward memorizing the passage itself.

Second, try to visualize the passage. Make it your aim to “see it” on the page. Do you ever find yourself saying, “Well, I know that a certain passage is on the left side of the page in the upper right hand corner”? You visualized the passage long before you memorized its content.

Third, when you finally get down to memorizing the passage, read it aloud. Analyze it, take it apart and break it down into certain segments and learn key words in each of the segments. You can fill in the “the’s” and the “and’s” later.

Fourth, use the passage. Use it in your conversation, in your prayers, and in your daily life. Nothing succeeds like practical application and hands-on experience.

Fifth, take the time—better yet, make the time—to memorize passages. Turn the television off, open the Bible, and focus on the passage you are trying to memorize for the day or week or month.

Finally, believe that you can memorize new passages. The old adage that you “cannot teach an old dog new tricks” is simply not true. If you convince yourself that you can’t memorize new passage it is certain you won’t.

I will close with the following quote from Alexander Campbell in The Christian System, page 244:

"I never knew but a very few families that made it their daily business to train up their children in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, to cause them every day to commit to memory a portion of the living oracles...and to say, that such a course, persisted in and sustained by the good example of parents, will very generally, if not universally, issue in the salvation of their children.”