Rock: God as Refuge (January 1)

Psalms 62:5-8; 144:1-4

Comment

The definition of rock in Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, p. 938, is interesting in the context of this study:
rock, a large chunk of stone. In lands such as those of the Mediterranean basin, rocks are plentiful. They are a danger to ships when storms drive them near shore (Acts 27:29), but on land they can be used as places of refuge for both animals (Prov. 30:26) and human beings, either to hide from other human beings (1 Sam. 24:2) or from God himself (Isa. 2:19, 21). Yet even rocks could not withstand God’s power (1 Kings 19:11). Moses used the cleft in a rock to protect himself from seeing God’s face, which would have cost him his life (Exod. 33:20-23). Israelite faith spoke figuratively of God as a rock, signifying the permanence and stability of divine protection (Deut. 32:4; 2 Sam. 22:2; Ps. 18:2; 71:3).

Teaching Suggestions


•    Display pictures of Kentucky’s majestic rocky landscapes: Natural Bridge, Lake Herrington or Lake Cumberland, Red River Gorge. See this web page for a photo gallery.
Question for discussion, “How do these majestic rocky landscapes remind you of God?”

•    Bring a rock to class and pass it around. Question for discussion, “How is God like rock?”

•    I recommend the activity, “How Stressed Are You?” from the resource kit as an excellent way to make the idea of God as our rock and refuge relevant to your class members’ lives. You can also find this stress scale here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale or here, http://www.jeassociates.com/eap/stress_inv.html.

•    I agree with the Teaching Guide, p. 8, “The Psalms are poetic and musical prayer, and we should try to hear them that way when possible.” Consider incorporating music in the session.

•    Reflect on God’s sustaining presence for Lexington Avenue Baptist Church in light of the recent passing of our last surviving charter member, Winifred Shearin and Psalm 144:3-4, “[mortals are] like a breath; their days are like a passing shadow.” Though the human founders of our church are no longer with us, God’s church remains.

•    Prayer experience:
o    Worship: From Psalm 62, “waiting in silence” (v. 5) and “pouring out our hearts before God” (v. 8), reminds me of our worship tradition of including the “Discipline of Silence” and “Prayers of the People.” As you worship today allow the images and insights from today’s lesson to guide your prayer time as you wait in silence during the discipline of silence and as we pour out our hearts through the prayers of the people.
o    Use “waiting in silence” and “pouring out our hearts before God” as the pattern for your opening or closing prayer time today. Allow some time for silent prayer followed by a time of prayer for prayer requests of class members.

Resources
•    I have several books that include pictures of the rocky landscapes in areas of the Middle East like the Psalmist knew when he called God our rock and refuge. Most Bible atlases and dictionaries will include similar photographs.
o    Visual Guide to Bible Events, pp. 44-51, 107
o    Good News For Modern Man, Today’s English Version New Testament in Color, pp. 12, 187, 219, 235 (also in the church library)
o    Holman Bible Dictionary, pp. 1283, 1284, 1335

•    For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o    Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o    Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)