The Importance of Metaphor


You may not be like me. You may not find joy in reading about Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter or find your skin tingling with delight over the tolling of Poe’s bells. But there is something about poetry we should all learn—the language of metaphors.

You don’t have to read very far in Scripture, especially in the Old Testament, to discover that the Bible is full of Metaphors. And, thus, this is a way of speaking we must endeavor to learn.

But, just why is the Bible so full of metaphors?

I think writer Eugene Peterson hits on something profound when he says (in the forward to the book Scape), “It pushes us to clarity at a different level.”

A few sentences later he adds:

“God’s action and presence among us is so beyond our comprehension that sober description and accurate definition are no longer functional. The levels of reality here are so beyond us that they require metaphor that calls on the imagination to participate in the extensive reality that we all inhabit but cannot weigh or explain or measure, which includes most of what deals with the soul and God. Without metaphor we are ill-equipped to respond or enter into what we cannot see, cannot hear, cannot feel.”

Powerful stuff. Without metaphor the finite can’t even begin to tap into the depths of the Infinte One.