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“The Rock of Ages:” The Being Behind the Belief

August 12th, 2007

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD God is an everlasting rock”

(Isaiah 26:4)

Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778) wrote that most popular of English hymns, Rock of Ages. It was this great hymn that echoed through Westminster Abbey during the funeral of Prime Minister William E. Gladstone. The history behind it is quite fascinating. The Christian lyrics arose from a theological debate. Especially important, in this regard, is the second stanza:

Could my tears forever flow, could my zeal no languor know,

these for sin could not atone-Thou must save and Thou alone.

It seems that Toplady was involved in a contention with John Wesley. Wesley was urging a seeking of salvation, while Toplady was denying the human role in salvation.

The being behind the rock, in the text of Isaiah 26:4 is the LORD God. He is traceable to Deuteronomy 32:4, depicted as his people’s strength; refuge (Ps. 31:2-33); and, salvation Deut. 32:15; Ps. 89:26). In the New Testament, the Rock is identified with Christ (1 Cor. 10:4) from whom the Spirit flows (John 4:13-14); the foundation of the church (Matt. 16:18) and it’s corner-stone (Eph. 2:20).

Next time that you sing, Rock of Age, realize that there is indeed a being behind the belief.

– Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, God, Isaiah, Jesus Christ, Lord, Old Testament, rock Tags: