After we had worshipped ‘God beyond all understanding’, someone suggested that the song was an obsolete, Old Testamental confession because ‘the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him that is true’ (1 John 5:20). While that’s the truth, it’s not the whole truth. Although Jesus thanked his Father in prayer prior to his arrest that his people ‘know you the only true God and Jesus Christ that you have sent’ (John 17:3) yet, later, Peter exhorted us to ‘grow in the …knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). And Paul acknowledged that ‘now I know in part’, and only ‘when the perfect comes, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known’ (1 Corinthians 13:9-10, 12).
So we can still pray David’s prayer, ‘Lead me to the rock that is higher than I’ (Psalm 61:2b). He felt disoriented: was he in northerly Spitzbergen or southerly Invercargill, New Zealand? – ‘from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint’ (2a). The rock in which he wanted to shelter is none other than God (Psalm 18:2; Deuteronomy 32:15, 18). Like C S Lewis, when referring to God’s triune mystery, we need a God we couldn’t have imagined or invented.
God is ‘beyond all understanding’ in all of his ways, which include:
- his knowledge of us (Psalm 139:1-6)
‘Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether….Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.’ Let that melt your heart in awe.
- his peace bestowed on us (Philippians 4:4-7)
‘…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ Our part is always to pray with gratitude.
- his love in which he envelops us (Ephesians 3:14-19)
Paul prayed that his readers ‘may have strength …to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.’ We sometimes sing, ‘I want to be out of my depth in your love.’
- his abandoning of Christ on the cross
‘And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15:33-34). He was not quoting Psalm 22:1, which he would have memorised in Hebrew, but asking in his boyhood tongue. And if he asked why, we must avoid explaining the mystery of his sacrificial work in a theological formula!
- his involvement in our prayers
‘We do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God’ (Romans 8:26-27), ‘who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think’ (Ephesians 3:20).
‘Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!’ (Romans 11:33). Indeed, lead me to The Rock Who is higher then I can ever hope to understand!