What does that word mean?

16th November, 2009 - Posted by Claire Larsen - No Comments

What beauty and intimacy we find in the Psalms! God has given us so many poetic pictures of who He is as our covenant God and of the world in which we live. The problem is this: do our children understand the meaning of the metaphors? When they read, ” How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13;1) are they expecting that the psalmist David actually saw God’s face? When they hear the words, “Many bulls encompass me,” (Psalm 22:12) are they picturing David in the Judean countryside surrounded by long-horned bulls?

We can only gain spiritual insight from Biblical metaphors if we understand the meaning behind the pictures. So … I googled “Bible words meaning” and found a website that explained a long list of  symbolic words. Here are a few things I learned.

The “cup” that overflows (Psalm 23:5) represents all the abundant blessings that the LORD bestows upon us every day. The “arm” of the LORD that redeems His people (Psalm 77:15) is the power of an omnipotent God, and His “right hand” (Psalm 77:10) is His protection that keeps us perfectly safe.  The “shadow of His wings” (Psalm 17:8) is another picture of God’s comforting protection from the evil all around us.

There are also metaphors for the wicked men who oppress God’s people. The “bulls” that surround the psalmist (Psalm 22:12) are violent men while the “dogs” (Psalm 22:16) are heathen, impure people, and, the “teeth” of the wicked (Psalm3:7) is a description of their cruelty.

This is just a sample of the many symbolic words that are explained in the website www.biblestudy.org/…/meaning-of-symbolic-words-in-bible. This alphabetical listing includes metaphorical words from Genesis through Revelation. I wish I had found this list earlier, but maybe it will help you as you read Scripture with your children.

Oh, and by the way, “the face of God” that David fears God may withhold from him (Psalm 13:1) is God’s divine favor that He shows to His covenant children who do nothing to deserve it. He just shows us His face because of His great love for us.

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