From a November 2003 teaching
We are God’s children. We will see the immensity of His love for us in the book of Isaiah, by way of some beautiful figures of speech. A figure of speech is any expressive use of language in the Bible.
Figures of Speech used in the Bible: Their intent is to draw special attention to the verse where they are used. They grab the reader’s attention and emphasize an important point.
Figures of speech are for our learning, and unlike where they are used in secular literature, the words of the Word are written perfectly.
Here are some examples of different figures of speech:
Simile – uses the words “like” or “as”, (or as used in the Bible): “like as” or “even as”
The two things being compared are not intended to be one and the same. It’s a comparison.
Psalm 5:12- “For thou, Lord wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” God’s favour is around us like a shield.
Acts 2:3 says “…Cloven tongues like as of fire…” (Referring to the initial outpouring of holy spirit on the day of Pentecost.)
III John 2 says: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
Metaphor – To use one thing to represent another. The two things spoken of can literally be taken to mean the same thing. Ex: “Joe” is the “Son of James & Sharon” – The two describe the same person in a different way.
Psalm 84:11 – “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: The Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold them that walk uprightly.” The Lord is literally our sun (light) and shield (protection) because we walk uprightly.
Antithesis – A direct opposition of one thing to another. It emphasizes the contrast between the two things. Usually uses “and”, “but”, or “so”
I John 1:5 – “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
A practical example of a figure of speech would be:
Instead of: “The farmer’s crops need water.”
You might say: “The farmer’s crops are thirsty.”
Crops can’t “thirst,” that is a human attribute. It must be a figure of speech. God’s word is the same in the way it refers to God.
God is Holy Spirit. He is all knowing, all powerful, and everywhere present. John 1:18 Says “No Man hath seen God at any time …” God cannot be seen by the human eye, nor can He be known by any of the other five senses. So, it is the figure of speech; “Anthropopatheia” (Greek), (or “Condescensio” in Latin) when the Word applies human characteristics to God:
Isaiah 43:25 – “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” (Anthropopatheia) “Forgetting” is a human attribute; God is “all-knowing,” He cannot forget. The point is: Our sins are forgiven because of Jesus Christ’s accomplishments and resurrection.
Isaiah 49:15 – Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. (Anthropopatheia and Antithesis) It would be incredibly difficult for the mother of a newborn Child to forget about her baby, yet we are only human and it could be possible to forget. God’s remembrance of us is beyond human comprehension.
Isaiah 49:16 – Behold, I have graven [tattooed] thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls [hands] are continually before me. (Anthropopatheia) God doesn’t literally have hands with which to tattoo upon. The point is: God cannot (and will not) forget his most wonderful children.
It is an orientalism in the bible to tattoo the names of those you dearly love somewhere on your body. To say that you tattooed the palms of your hands would be an incredible thing; the human palms are far too sensitive to endure the pain of a tattoo. But God has “graven” our names there.
God’s remembrance of us is [as indelible (and unchangeable) as the lines graven in the palms of our hands.] –“Figures of Speech in the Bible”
Just like each one of our hands have a different pattern of lines; God has remembered us individually as his children. To God, we are as unique and different from each other as the palms of our hands are.
I Corinthians 12:27 – “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
Ephesians 2:19 – “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Antithesis)
It is a great thing to understand figures of speech and how they apply to the word of God.
They make reading the bible so much more vivid and alive.
God has “forgotten” our sins, but will never “forget” us.
He has “graven” us on the “palms of his hands.”
He has called us to his household to be members in particular.
These are all Promises in the Word.
Let’s go out boldly keeping in mind that God “remembers” us!
God Bless You!