Imagery in the Scriptures

As a student of God’s Word, I have made my reading challenge this year to read the entire Bible from start to finish in one year. Many books (particularly in the Old Testament) I normally overlook have proved eye-opening and now give me new levels of understanding of New Testament teachings.

One thing that has fascinated me—and in part, inspired me to write a song cycle based on Scriptural texts—is the profound use of imagery throughout Bible.

For instance, in Psalm 110, David uses particularly beautiful language to express the reign of Christ:

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; in holy array, from the womb of the dawn, your youth are to You as the dew. (Psalm 110:1–3)

The Messiah’s subjects are dressed in holy garments born from the womb of the dawn, and His youths are like the morning dew. What unaccountable, anointed beauty these inspired words contain!

When Job demanded of God the right to an explanation for his troubles, God Himself answered, though not as Job expected. For chapters, God spoke about the wonders of His creation, unfathomable to the mind of a man. His final point was that the mortal cannot begin to comprehend His works—that God’s thoughts and discernments are far above those of man—and what is he that he may argue with his Maker? One especially stunning passage from this speech comes from Job 38:

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that an abundance of water will cover you? Can you send forth lightnings that they may go and say to you, “Here we are?” Who has put wisdom in the innermost being or given understanding to the mind? Who can count the clouds by wisdom, or tip the water jars of the heavens, when the dust hardens into a mass and the clods stick together? (Job 38:34–38)

An entire art song could be written from this excerpt of the words of God Himself! It is no wonder that so many legends in literary, visual, and audial arts have derived such inspiration from the Scriptures (particularly the Psalms). Those who have not gleaned through the pages of the Bible truly rob themselves of the greatest written masterpiece; but unlike most art, this book is not fictitious but historically, morally, and spiritually true.

Are you seeking inspiration for your next piece of art? The thousands of pages in Scripture alone have stimulated the imaginations of more creative thinkers than any other single work, either written or painted.

Where have you noticed the use of imagery in the Scripture? What passages move you in particular? Feel free to leave a comment below.