Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Words by Augustus M. Toplady, 1776
Music by Thomas Hastings, 1830
“For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:
‘I love you, Lord, my strength.
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.’”
Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
John 19:33 – 34
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved
Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a great storm. I remember growing up in an area where tornadoes were not uncommon. When the storm warning came we would seek shelter in a small basement room constructed of concrete block walls with a concrete floor. This is where we found ourselves the time our farm was hit by a major storm. It took down trees and leveled our barn. Our house was not touched, save for a tree that fell against it, but it could easily have done worse. It was clear why we sought shelter in a secure solid location.
Now we transfer this image to something stronger and older. The mountains themselves. When the storm comes, where can we find shelter. We seek an opening, a cleft in the rock for our protection. Here is the imagery drawn on by Toplady in his hymn, “Rock of Ages.”
Toplady write, “Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” He responds to the storm of life that we all find ourselves in and where we can turn for shelter. That shelter is in the “Rock of Ages”, but what is the Rock of Ages. Isaiah 26:4 holds the answer where it reads, “Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.” God is the Rock of Ages. It is in Him that we find shelter for any storm. In Psalm 91:1 we read, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”
But it is not simply the troubles of life that are the source of the storms, it is the sin we find ourselves in. Sins that separate us from God. This is why he goes on to say, “Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure; Save from wrath and make me pure.” A direct reference to Christ crucifixion. John 19:33-34 says, “But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” It is for this reason that he died on the cross. Our rescue from the storm of our sin can be found in Christ alone, as Acts 4:12 states, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
Toplady goes on to present that there is nothing we can do that will lead to salvation. There is nothing we can bring before God that would warrant our acceptance. It is only through the cross of Christ, that we can find the forgiveness of our sins. When the day comes that we stand before the judgement throne, we may stand only in the shelter of Christ. So we cry out to God with the words that start and end this hymn, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.”
Read more about “Rock of Ages.”