There are many Judeo-Christian metaphors for God in both the old and new testament. Some of these are:
- The lord is my shepherd.
- God is a potter.
- Jesus is the bread of life.
Other god metaphors are more general and can be used by many religions, such as:
- God is a teacher.
- God is a rock.
- God is a scientist.
Below, I’ve outlined a list of god metaphors from both general and Biblical contexts. Enjoy!
Metaphors for God in the Bible
1. God is a Potter
Isaiah 64:8 – But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.
In this metaphor, god is seen as a potter moulding the world. The key idea here is that we’re all made by god. Just like a potter uses his hands to mould pots from clay, god moulded us.
And just as a potter’s hand-made pots are fashioned and cast by a potter with their own unique personalities, god gave us personalities that he hand-selected for us.
2. The Lord is my Shepherd
Psalms 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
John 10:11 – i am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
In this metaphor, god is seen as a shepherd and we are his sheep. This one recurs a lot in Christianity.
A shepherd will make sure their sheep are all safe and healthy. He will lead them to where they need to go and care for them. Similarly, God will make sure we’re all healthy and okay. He will also need to make sure we go in the right direction, which metaphorically might mean making sure we live a ‘good’ and moral life.
3. Jesus is Light
John 8:12 – Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘i am the Light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’
We often use phrases that refer to Jesus as ‘light’. In all of these references (e.g. the lord as the sun, brightness, etc.), the writers are referencing the cultural idea of light being good and dark being bad. I talk about this in detail in my light metaphors article.
So, to say that Jesus is light is to say that he is the ‘good thing’ that needs to be followed. This could also refer to the idea that ‘following the light’ and ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ often point us toward the idea that we should head toward light in order to escape pain or go somewhere better.
4. God is the Alpha and Omega
Revelations 21:6 – And He said unto me, it is done. i am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
For this metaphor, you need to know that Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last letter of the Greek Alphabet.
So, Revelations is really saying that God is everything. He is the answer to all questions and is your guide for life (and death) from beginning to end.
5. Jesus is a Vine
John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
In this metaphor, Jesus sees himself as a vine, while we are the branches growing from the vine. The idea here is that branches from a vine cannot live without the vine itself. So, we must stay close to Jesus in order to thrive.
It also highlights how we come from God and are made by god, just as vines are needed in order to make branches.
Finally, we are presented with the idea that ‘bearing fruit’ can only occur with God. In other words, our happiness and success in life will only happen if we stay true to and close to god. In the same way, a branch that falls off the vine will die off and won’t produce fruit.
Read Also: Tree Metaphors
6. Jesus is the Bread of Life
John 6:35 – Jesus said to them, ‘i am the bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst.’
Here, Jesus is bread. This means that he is the thing that gives us what we need – food an nourishment. He follows-up with “he who comes to me will not hunger”, meaning that if you believe in God, you will get what you need in life. He will provide for you.
7. God is a Rock, a Shield and a Fortress
Psalm 18:2 – The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Here are three metaphors in once!
First, god is a rock. As discussed in my rock metaphors article, we often use rocks as metaphors when we want to refer to things that are strong, solid, and will not fail on us. So, here, we can see that Psalm 18:2 is saying that God will always be there for you.
Second, god is a fortress. This means that you will be protected and safe when you have God in your heart. Just like hiding inside a strong castle, if you take refuge in God’s love, you will be protected.
Third, god is a shield. This metaphor reinforces the ‘fortress’ one and means the same thing. Something that is a shield is a thing that will keep you safe and protected from attacks from evil.
8. The Lord is a Sun and a Shield
Psalm 84:11 – For the Lord God is a sun and shield.
I just discussed above the idea of God as a shield – like a shield, god can protect you from attacks from evil.
As for ‘sun’, we see regularly that people refer to god as ‘the light’, and of course the greatest of all lights is the sun. So, this metaphor reinforces the idea that god is goodness (light) and the opposite of evil (darkness). You should go toward the light of the sun (good) and away from the dark (evil).
9. God is the Father
Deuteronomy 32:6 – Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?
We will often refer to God as our father. Here, we’re not saying that God is Jesus’s father (which is, arguable, a little more literal). Rather, we’re saying he’s your father and my father.
How can that be so, if we already have a father?
This is a metaphorical statement which refers to God as someone who created us. Just as we are created by our fathers, we’re all (on a more philosophical level) created by God.
Furthermore, we can see God as a father because he looks after us and looks over us in a similar way to how our literal fathers look after us as we grow up.
Other God Metaphors
10. God is an Artist
We will often be out and about in nature, look upon the beauty we see, and marvel at God’s creation. He created something incredibly beautiful.
You could even say that nature is a work of art painted by the hand of god! He’s the greatest artist – greater than Michelangelo.
This has similarities to the metaphor earlier of God as Potter because both pottery and artworks are things that are done by hand and reflect the creativity and personality of the creator.
Read More: Nature Metaphors
11. God is a Scientist
We often think of God and science as being opponents. Science will often make claims that appear to undermine claims in religious texts.
But others consider science to come from God. In fact, God is the ultimate scientist. We see God in the laws of science and nature. We can picture him in his lab coat in heaven when he was creating Earth, coming up with the laws and rules that would govern our natural world.
12. God is a Judge
In many ways, people who believe in heaven and hell do think of god as literally a judge. He will cast judgement on judgement day.
But we could also create a fun metaphor here. For example, imagine drawing a cartoon picture where you’re in a courtroom and there he is – god – with a black coat and curly white wig on, holding a hammer, ready to judge you.
Here, we’ve got a metaphor – God isn’t a literal judge from a courtroom. He simply passes judgement when we die.
(Note: Muslims do not believe in drawing pictures of God, so be sensitive with this one, and do not offend others’ religious beliefs).
13. God is the Path
Many people will consider God to be the ‘path’ to happiness, truth and eternal life.
Of course, he is not literally a path set out in a landscape. Rather, we are saying he can show you the way in the same manner that a path will lead you somewhere.
14. God is an Immovable Mountain
People with deep faith in their religion will say that nothing will change their mind. God’s truth is the ultimate truth and no one will change their mind about this.
So, they might say he is an immovable mountain. He cannot be pushed aside or ignored. He will always be there and there’s nothing you can do to change that fact. He is like a mountain in this sense. You cannot move a mountain – it’s there. Deal with it!
15. God is the Best Teacher
Many of us turn to our religious texts to reflect and learn. If we have a problem in our lives, we might turn back to the word of God and try to find the truth and wisdom within it.
Those who turn to God’s word for inspiration might see him as a teacher. Just like a teacher, he will give you the answers and show you how to think and live life.
But unlike a regular teacher, who teaches math or language, God teaches the most important things: morals, ethics, and how to live a life you can be proud of.
16. God is my Companion
To say that God is your companion is to highlight that he will always be by your side. This is because he doesn’t have to be physically there to give you peace. He can be there in spirit, meaning you can close your eyes and feel his presence.
You can also reflect on his word and his promises of eternal life for those who are faithful. This might get you through tough times when you feel alone. But, you know you’re not alone, because you have the strength of God to draw upon.
17. God Carries Me
Sometimes you might feel weak and as if you cannot carry on with life. In times like these, having deep faith in God can be a great advantage.
You can say to yourself: “I don’t see any hope, but I have God, and god can carry me while I feel weak.”
In other words, you’re drawing on the strength of knowing that God can provide you hope and eternal life. You’ve got his rules to follow and you know that no matter how bad things get, by being faithful to your God you will be rewarded in the end.
18. God is a Lion
The lion is the king of the natural world. He is the apex predator who no other animals will be able to threaten.
But he also is a majestic animal. Think about Simba from The Lion King and Aslan from Narnia. We consistently see the great hero as a strong, powerful, majestic lion.
And in fact, Aslan from Narnia is an analogy for Jesus. He is the Father who comes to save the world from the wicked witch!
19. God is an Oasis
An oasis is a place full of greenery, food, and of course water. We usually think of an oasis as the one cool, green, nourishing place surrounded by barren desert.
So, if you say that God is an oasis, you’re saying that he is the thing that provides nourishment for you. Everywhere else you look, all you find is despair and sadness. But if you turn to god, you get an oasis. You get relief from the bad things in the world and the comforts you need to be happy and content.
Because God is such a difficult concept to envisage and think about, we often use metaphors to communicate what he means to us. Sometimes he’s a shepherd leading us to safety while other times he’s an oasis giving us nourishment.
I’m Chris and I run this website – a resource about symbolism, metaphors, idioms, and a whole lot more! Thanks for dropping by.