When we want to communicate with computers or toddlers we have to be pretty literal. That’s because neither has learned the more nuanced aspects of language like metaphor and idiom. They lack the ability to appreciate and interpret the color of speech and can only parse words.
God, however, doesn’t talk like that. Humans are creatures of both intellect and emotion. It is no wonder, then, that he frequently uses figures of speech—non-literal styles—to convey both information and feelings. The Spirit could have inspired David to write, “God is there for me. He takes care of me.” Instead, the psalmist sang, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall never want.” And those words immediately evoke in us pastoral images and feelings of peace. It’s not just the psalms. Read through Job, the Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, the songs of Miriam, Simeon, and Mary. The whole of scripture is filled with non-literal communication; poetry and songs designed to stir the heart and imagination as well as instruct and inform.
From the Hebrew poetry that is the first chapter of Genesis to the apocalyptic language of the Revelation of John, God has spoken not only to our intellects but also to our emotions. He has evoked wonder, sadness, anger, and joy. He has moved us to action and caused us to stand still and patiently wait in his Presence. That’s because he wants to have a conversation with not just a part of you, but the whole of you.
That’s something to think about.