The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1 (NRSV)
The Psalms are full of wonderful images for God. These metaphors use deep, descriptive language which gives us glimpses of who God is. Some of them are comforting, such as God as shepherd (Ps 23), or as in the quotation above, God as our light and salvation. These images speak of comfort, safety, guidance, love and caring, amongst other things.
However, some of the images are really strange – God as an all-consuming moth (Ps 39:11) or as a drunken warrior (Ps 78:65). These images may not sit comfortably with us. They speak of destruction and behaviour we don’t often associate with God, but they were the Psalmist’s genuine experience of God.
I wonder, if you were to write your own Psalm about God, what metaphor(s) you might use to explain how God seems to you? When I was asked to do this, God was my cup of tea – comforting, warm, what I needed whenever I was low. Perhaps have a go and see what images of God you come up with!
Many of our hymns use metaphors to describe God, and a good number of them use language from the Psalms: The name of the Lord is a strong tower by Clinton Utterbach, and As the deer pants for the water by Martin Nystrom, and especially the many versions of Psalm 23.
Our words cannot convey everything about you,
so we turn to metaphors, to pictures when describing you.
You are our refuge, our strength, our rock, keeping us safe.
You are our shepherd and our light, guiding us on the path.
You are a mother hen protecting her chicks, a mighty warrior ready for battle.
You are gentle like a lamb and ferocious like a lion.
You are all these things and more than we can ever say.
Thank you for all that you are, what we can say and what we struggle to describe.
Thank you, Almighty God.