The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. — Psalm 18:2
NOTE TO READERS: Happy New Year! 2018 is an important year for Israel and the Jewish people as we celebrate the modern State of Israel’s 70th Birthday. As we mark this momentous milestone, we are offering 70 devotions between now and April 19th, Israel’s Independence Day, tied to our Keys to Israel – six fundamental principles underlying God’s covenantal relationship with His chosen people and His Holy Land built upon the acrostic I.S.R.A.E.L. These first ten devotions provide an overview to Israel and her people.
Just before the modern state of Israel declared her independence, there was a fierce debate. The religious Jews insisted that the name of God be included in the official Declaration of Independence document. But the secular, non-religious sector wanted religion out of it. It was Friday, May 14th, 1948, and all parties wanted to be officially independent before the start of the Sabbath. They reached a compromise. Instead of using one of the traditional names of God, He would be referred to as “the rock of Israel.” This was vague enough for the non-religious, yet significant enough for the believers.
In Psalm 18, David refers to God as his rock. What does this poetic, yet ambiguous term mean? As David specified in his psalm a rock was a shield, a horn, a stronghold.
A rock can be used as a shield. Held in front of you, a rock can deflect all kinds of harmful objects. David recognized that God was his shield and protector when he went into battle. Remember his very first fight against the Philistine giant, Goliath? King Saul offered his armor to David to wear into battle, but David refused. Instead, he chose to go into battle armed with the name of God.
A rock can also be a weapon. In the Scriptures, a horn is a symbol of power and might. Animals use their horns to attack. Without it, they would be powerless. David recognized that God was his greatest weapon. In Psalm 18, David acknowledged that his military victories had very little to do with him and everything to do with the LORD. Without God, he would have been crushed by King Saul long before he ever ascended the throne.
Finally, a rock, in the form of a cave, can be a stronghold. When David was hiding from King Saul, he took refuge in a deserted cave. Saul’s men were not far behind, and they, too, found the same cave. But they didn’t enter it. Why? According to Jewish tradition, God had a spider spin a web in the moments after David had entered it. When Saul’s men saw the web, they assumed no one could have possibly entered the cave and so left. The physical rock cave may have provided a safe refuge, but God provided David’s protection.
When we call God our rock, we recognize that He is our savior and protector. We recognize that without Him, we are vulnerable and exposed. How fortuitous that this became the term used in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. They couldn’t have picked a better one!
At the outset of the modern Israeli state, it was made clear that Israel would be independent from everyone. That is, except for God. God was, is, and always will be the rock of Israel. God is Israel’s foundation, without whom, she could not stand.
Designate God as your rock. Remember that He is not far away in the distance. God is with you, protecting you and fighting your battles. Even in turbulent times, He will be your solid ground.
For more information on our Keys to I.S.R.A.E.L. resources visit www.ifcj.org/keystoisrael.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President