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What does it mean that the Lord is my rock (Psalm 18:2)?

Lord is my rock

The book of Psalms contains many encouraging verses, including Psalm 18:2, “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.” There is a lot to unpack in this verse, but our focus will be on the first phrase, the Lord is my rock.

Being a poetic book, Psalms employs figurative language extensively. The “rock” in this verse is metaphorical, and the repetition emphasizes its importance to the psalmist. King David most likely penned these words after he was established as king in Israel. Prior to this, he had faced numerous enemies, including King Saul. David’s life was often in jeopardy, and he was compelled to live outside the bounds of a normal community. This helps us better appreciate his looking to the Lord as his rock.

A literal rock is solid, stable, and strong. It requires force to break through, and in ancient times people sought refuge in caves and rocky terrains for safety (Exodus 33:22; 1 Kings 19:9–13; Judges 6:2; Revelation 6:15–16). A rock can be life-sustaining in more ways than one, as Moses brought forth water from a rock to quench the thirst of the Israelites (Exodus 17:1–7).

David’s use of a “rock” as a metaphor first highlights trust. In times of danger, David acknowledges that he can trust God just as someone hiding in a rocky cave would trust it for shelter. This psalmist had numerous personal experiences with caves and likely drew inspiration from them (1 Samuel 22:1–2; 24:1–6). Trusting God in times of trial can be challenging, so we need occasional reminders. In situations that surpass human understanding, God remains sovereign.

Another significance of the rock is its strength. Many Bible verses depict God as the source of strength (Isaiah 40:29; Psalm 73:26; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Ephesians 6:10), and we have the testimony of David, who experienced the benefits of relying on God for strength. Difficult times can leave one weak, confused, and in despair. In the valleys of life, God strengthens us through His Word, prayer, and the comfort of other believers.

We can also understand the rock as a place of safety. The psalmist realizes that—beyond trusting and gaining strength—he is also safest with God. David understands that God is the only One who can protect him from his enemies. Trials can lead to doubts and desperation, but struggling Christians should realize that true safety lies in God’s hands. If God doesn’t deliver us from a situation, then He desires to be with us through it. Either way, we are in good hands. Even if we lose our lives, we await a new world without tears, pain, and suffering (Revelation 21:4).

Other metaphors in the verse point to God’s trustworthiness as a source of strength and place of safety. In addition to being called a “rock,” God is a fortress, a shield, a deliverer, a stronghold, and the horn of David’s salvation.

God’s function as a “rock” extends beyond times of trials. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares obedience to His teachings to building a house on a rock (Matthew 7:24–25). Jesus Himself became our rock and fortress when He delivered us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). Our trust, strength, and safety come from Him in this wicked world. Paul confirms that Christ is our Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4).

In all circumstances, may we join King David in saying, “The Lord is my rock!”

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Questions about Psalms

What does it mean that the Lord is my rock (Psalm 18:2)?
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This page last updated: September 6, 2023