Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Christ the Rock in the weary land

"He caused him to suck honey out of the rock, oil out of the flinty rock." (Deuteronomy 32:13)

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my Savior, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the strength of my salvation, my stronghold." (Psalm 18:2)

"And a MAN shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a shelter from the tempest, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." (Isaiah 32:2)

Let the travelers through the parched deserts of Arabia, tell how comforting the shadow of a cloud is—which diminishes the heat in a arid place. Let the desert wanderers tell what it is to hide their scorched shoulders from the burning sun in the shadow of a rock. How much greater reason have I to boast of my Rock! From his pierced side the fountain of life flows—which pours refreshment into my panting soul. Here I have not only shadow from the heat, but shelter from the storm.

What is firmer than a rock? Winds may rend the cedars of Lebanon, and tear them up by their roots: but here the tempests beat, and are baffled; the billows dash, and are broken; time hovers, and corrodes not the flinty mass. Nevertheless, rocks are not armor against every invasion from destruction and ruin. For see, the enraged thunders rend their towering tops, and angry earthquakes toss them from their seats, while the earth beneath opens fearfully, and hides the ponderous heaps. But my Rock shall stand fast forever, when the foundations of the earth are moved, and the pillars of heaven tremble! There shall I be safe, when the hail shall sweep away the refuges of lies; yes, when God shall rain on sinners—snares, fire, and brimstone, in the furious storm of wrath, I shall sing in safety, being an inhabitant of the Rock of ages, from which I never shall be moved!

No wonder, then, that the saint of God shouts for joy, being an inhabitant on high, and having for his place of defense the fortress of rocks. Sometimes, indeed, the blind world is ready to allege, that their rock has abandoned them, and that if God were their God, surely he would intervene for them—when they see martyrs going to execution; some to the gibbet, and others to be drowned in the sea; some to the rack, and others to the fire. But then their divine Comforter invisibly attends them, and he whose form is like the son of God walks with them amidst the fire, and fans away the flame. This is the Rock from which I am filled with honey, the Rock that pours out rivers of oil for me.

Do rocks defend me from blasts, from whatever quarter they blow? So does my Rock. Is the blast from hell? Well, he has the keys of hell and of death. Is it from sin? He is my righteousness. Is it from Satan? He has conquered principalities and powers. Is it from afflictions? He is my sympathizing and loving High Priest. Is it from losses? He is my exceeding great reward. Is it from crosses? He makes all things work together for good to his people. Is it from anguish? He is my joy. Is it from darkness? He is my Sun. Is it from doubts? He is my Counselor. Is it from deadness? He is my life. Is it from enemies? He is my shield. Is it from temptation? He is my deliverer. Is it from false friends? He will never leave me, nor forsake me. Is it from solitude or banishment? He is everywhere present. Is it from disease? He is my healer. Is it from death? He is the resurrection and the life.

O glorious refuge! O sure defense! O everlasting fortress! Here do I defy the worst that earth and hell can do. Henceforth will I live by faith, in the MAN who is my hiding place from the wind, my shelter from the tempest, my stream of water in a dry place, my shadow of a great rock in a weary land—until every blast has blown over, and not a threatening cloud appears in my sky—until my heaven is beautified with everlasting day, and every storm is swept from the air which I breathe!

"And a MAN shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a shelter from the tempest, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." (Isaiah 32:2)