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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Personal Attributes of God

Don Stewart :: Why Is God Compared to Animals?

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Why Is God Compared to Animals?

The Personal Attributes of God – Question 19

The Scripture compares God to humans and human-like traits. We also find a number of comparisons of God to animals. They include the following descriptions.

1. Lion

The lion had been called the “king of beasts.” We find that the Lord compares Himself to a lion. We read about this in the Book of Isaiah.

This is what the Lord says to me: “As a lion growls, a great lion over his prey—and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against him, he is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor—so the Lord Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights.” (Isaiah 31:4 NIV)

The Lord, like the lion, will come down and do battle with His people.

It is interesting to note that the devil is also referred to as acting like a lion in Scripture. Peter wrote of this.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NKJV)

Therefore, a lion can have either a good or a bad connotation in Scripture. It all depends upon the context.

2. Lamb

One of the most prominent animals in the Bible is the lamb. The Lord Himself is compared to a lamb led to slaughter. Isaiah the prophet wrote this description of Him.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7 NRSV)

This is a description of Jesus; the Lamb of God.

3. Eagle

God’s care is like that of an eagle. Moses wrote,

...lLike an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions. The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him. (Deuteronomy 32:11, 12 NIV)

As an eagle spreads its wings over its young, so God looks after His own.

4. Mother Hen

Jesus compared Himself to a mother hen. As He wept over the city of Jerusalem, the city which rejected Him as the promised Messiah, He gave the comparison to a hen gathering her chicks under her wings. We read,

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” (Matthew 23:37 NASB)

Jesus wanted to safely gather the people of Jerusalem. However, they were not willing to be gathered. The Lord had given them every opportunity to believe but they did not take it. Hence judgment was coming to them.

5. A Moth

The psalmist compares God to a moth. He takes away certain “things” which are dear or valuable to them.

With stern warnings you discipline people for their crimes. Like a moth you eat away at what is dear to them. Certainly, everyone is like a whisper in the wind. (Psalm 39:11 God’s Word)

God does not allow people to succeed with their crimes. Instead He removes their “ill-gotten gains.”

The key word in these verses is “like.” God is like an animal in some of the things that He does. The Bible writers are referring to God’s actions—not His character, or physical makeup.

God is neither a human being nor is He an animal. Yet the Bible assigns Him traits that humans have, and compares His actions to that of animals. These descriptions help humans have a better understanding of how God works. But they are not describing His physical form.

Summary – Question 19
Why Is God Compared to Animals?

Scripture compares God to a number of different things. Indeed, not only is there the comparison to certain characteristics which humans have there is also the comparison with certain traits in animals. In fact, God’s actions are compared to such things as a lion, lamb, an eagle, mother hen, and a moth.

Like a lion, the Lord is strong. He rules over everything. The Lord is King over all things.

On the other hand, like a lamb, there is the gentleness in His character. He is tender and loving; especially to those who are His.

Like the soaring eagle the God of Scripture looks down on all things. Nothing escapes His notice.

Jesus compared Himself to a mother hen who looks after her young. With loving care, God watches out for those who are His own. He wants to gather them under “tender wings.”

God is also compared to a moth. He eats away at those things which are valuable to the wicked. Indeed, He makes it clear that everything material will one day perish.

These descriptions are given to describe the way God acts, not what He looks like. He does not look like an animal. Yet, there are certain traits in animals which give us a greater appreciation for who God is and what He does. We can certainly understand these analogies.

What Do We Say to People Who Interpret All Descriptions of God in a Literal Manner? ← Prior Section
Why Is God Compared to Non-Living Things? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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