Rock of Ages.

9905891515_fef9441662_bYou can hardly turn anywhere today, without seeing people who are obsessed with the word security. There are some, who work so hard and nearly kill themselves because they want financial security or economic security. There are some who are so worried and anxious because they want marital security. There are some who are longing for the security of social status and social acceptability, and they work very hard to get it. And yet, I declare to you that deep down, whether these folks know it or not most people are longing in some ways for eternal security.

The year 2008 has been a year in which this generation has experienced (first-hand at least) what it means to have financial insecurity. We’ve been brought up on this concept of financial security, and then in 2008, we saw solid rock institutions with billions of dollars in assets go up in smoke overnight. Many of the banks we thought were save went under, and some people lost their uninsured deposits. I heard about the story of a man who was so afraid of what was going on with all the banking crisis around the world at that time that, so he took his money and literally buried them in his backyard only to go back a few weeks later to find it all rotted and worthless.

I personally think the concept of financial security can be very deceiving, especially for Christians. 1 Samuel Chapter 2, what an incredible song! Highlight it in your Bible, that song of praise, that prayer of thanksgiving – “My horn is exalted in the Lord.” What is Hannah saying here? She is saying that her power and her strength is in the Lord, and not in her success, net worth statement, savings, or on anything she has.

In verse two, she continues – “There is none holy like the Lord.” Most Christians, we bless God for his faithfulness, his blessings, we thank God for his goodness towards us, but very few of us stand up and bless God for his holiness. It takes a life that is sanctified unto the Lord to be able to praise God for his holiness. It takes a life that is standing on a higher spiritual plane to praise God for his holiness. Then she adds, “There is no rock like my God.” No, she did not mean a diamond ring kind of rock. She was saying that the Lord is her only security, and He is the only true security that we can really have.

Hannah separated herself completely to the ownership of the Lord. Hannah placed her whole trust completely (and not a certain percentage of her trust), in the only one who can meet her needs. Firstly, she gave of herself, then she gave the very thing that she has prayed for years. Hannah referred to herself as a woman of sorrowful spirit. Even amid her sorrow, she sought the Lord, even though are womb was shut, her heart was open unto the Lord. Hannah the sorrowful did not become Hannah the prayerless. Emotionally hurt – yes, but her faith was strong. Mentally battered – yes, but her commitment was unshakeable. Psychologically beaten – yes, but all spiritually she was powerful.

What did Hannah want out of all the world? She wanted one thing, a son. If you went to Hannah at that time and said to her, I’ll give you the whole world, she will say no, I’d rather have a son. That’s all she wanted. And when God gave her a son, she gave him back to God. Isn’t that incredible? Ask yourself, the question, what is it that I’m asking the Lord? what am I asking Him for? Identify it, write it down if you must. Then ask yourself this question next, if the Lord answers my prayer and gives me the desire of my heart, that which I am asking him for, will I be willing to give it back to the Lord? More than anything else, you will begin to understand your motive in prayer very quickly.

Hannah gave back to the Lord her one and only child, she did not wait until he became a man, she took her boy Samuel at the age of 5 and placed him in the service of the Lord. What a gift she gave the Lord, and the world for that matter. Samuel grew up to be a man after God’s own heart, a man who turned the nation, the nation that was living in chaos and confusion, he turned the nation back to God. He became the first prophet, priest, and judge all at once.

If the story ends here it would have been absolutely the most incredible story, but the story does not end here, because later on, God gives Hannah six children. I’m convinced the reason for this blessing was simply because she kept her promise and refused to give only that which cost her little to nothing. Hannah made a costly commitment to the Lord, and here in 1 Sam. 2, we see her keeping her vow to the Lord.

In 1887, during Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee celebration. As all the delegates were coming in from all the Commonwealth countries to wish her well, the head of the delegation from Madagascar asked if he could give the queen a gift, and so he sang one of her favourite songs. On hearing that song, the queen wept. Her favourite song was “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”

There is an even more poignant point to this song. It was written by a man named Augustus Toplady. His father, a royal marine died while on duty not long after Augusta was born, leaving him to be raised by his mother. At the age of 16, Augusta received Christ into his life when he heard the gospel message preached in one of the districts of Ireland. The sermon was on Jesus, the Rock.

Augustus was a very frail young man, he suffered from tuberculosis. He did not know a day that was free of pain. His world was always dark, his pain was unbearable, and his health was crumbling. He studied for ministry, but his body was so weak that it stopped him from being able to express his passion for preaching. He died at the age of 38, but not before he penned the magnificent song:

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”

The inspiration to the song came about through Augusta finding shelter from the storm in a rocky gorge as he was travelling along Burrington Combe, North Somerset England. The story of the song impressed the former prime minister of England, William Gladstone that he translated the song into Latin, and the song was played at his funeral. For many years every July, thousands of people came from near and far and would stand outside of that cliff of rock in Burrington, and they all sang the song, “Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”

At the Welsh English border, there are many ruins of great castles and strong towers, and one in particular was was thought to be absolutely indestructible, nonetheless, it is all in ruins now. Jesus told a story (Matthew 7:24-27) about two men who built their houses. The wise man built his house on a rock, and the foolish man built his house on sand. Right in the storm, the house of the wise man stood tall, but it was said that great was was the fall and ruins of the foolish man.

The apostle Paul tells us (in 1 Corinthians 10:4) that the rock is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He is the only safe hideaway place; secure protector; assure guardian; defending shelter; imperishable tower; insured place; and wall of fire. A rock in the Bible is a symbol of the changeless God, the immutability of God, the permanence of God, the invincibility of God, and the strength of God.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe (Proverbs 18:10).