Misunderstood Metaphors

God uses metaphors in the Bible to describe in simple terms how he relates to us personally.

We set ourselves up for disappointment if we expect him always to embody every implicit nuance in these figures of speech.

Heavenly Father

For example, the Bible says God becomes our heavenly father when we are reborn spiritually. As the Son of God, Jesus becomes our spiritual brother. In the same spiritual sense, other reborn believers also become our brothers and sisters.

We never stretch the concept of spiritual brotherhood to the point of expecting Jesus to share his childhood memories with us. We do not presume our spiritual siblings will send us birthday cards.

Likewise, we must be careful about extending the concept of God’s spiritual fatherhood into the earthly realm. These extensions can give rise to faulty expectations, whether our human father has been good or bad.

Good Dad Comparison

Good earthly fathers do everything they can to provide for and protect their children but never promise to shelter them from every affliction.

God intends to bless us in the next life with more abundance than we can imagine, but he never promises to give us a carefree life on earth.

Bad Dad Comparison

Some of us grew up with poor fathers or no fathers. They ignored or abused us and made us feel unworthy of love. As a result, we find it hard to trust God because we presume he is like them.

Suffice it to say that God is unlike the poor earthly fathers who neglect or traumatize their children. He is always present with us. He cherishes us more than the best earthly fathers could ever value their children.

Other Metaphors

The Bible also describes God as our friend, provider, rock, refuge, strength, warrior, fortress, deliverer, defender, sun, shield, shelter, shade, vine, healer, helper, hope, comforter, counselor, and shepherd.

Again, not every meaning implicit in these terms applies in the physical realm.

For example, God never produces personal shade for us by physically blocking the sun. He never herds us like sheep.

Likewise,  God does not always bless or protect us, contrary to what we would like these terms to imply.

God’s Promise

The divine metaphors in the Bible affirm God’s promise to help us endure affliction, produce goodness from it, and resolve it as he deems best, an appraisal we can trust.

They assure us that as we walk in harmony with him, he will come to our aid in such a manner that we will eventually use them to chronicle his faithfulness.

We will marvel at his excellence and rejoice that he is indeed…

  • our provider
  • our rock
  • our refuge
  • our strength
  • our warrior
  • our fortress
  • our deliverer
  • our defender
  • our sun
  • our shield
  • our shelter
  • our shade
  • our vine
  • our healer
  • our helper
  • our hope
  • our comforter
  • our counselor
  • our shepherd
  • our friend
  • and our father.