Dictionary of Prophetic Metaphor
Using the Psalms, the Prophets, and other books as a Key.

his short dictionary is woefully incomplete until I can spend more time on it, but you might find it useful in understanding the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and other prophetic books, as well as prophecies in Psalms (the Key of David) and elsewhere. Many people do not consider Psalms as a book of prophecy! However it has many, many prophecies therein, quoted by Jesus and the Apostles (See Luke 20:42, Luke 24:44, Acts 1:20 for examples). The interpretations here are some that I was led to through study and prayer. You may be able to find other words with metaphoric meanings of common Biblical terms...

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(1) Words of reproof, either of the wicked or from God. (2) From the Holy Spirit: remorse for sin.

    Psalms 64:2-3 - Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words.

    Psalms 127:4-5 - As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

  • Example prophecy: "For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart." (Psalms 11:2)

(1) The weapon that delivers Arrows. From God, the Holy Spirit; from the wicked, their pride or vanity, etc... (2) Rainbow of covenant.

    Jeremiah 9:3 - And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.

    Lamentations 3:12-14 - He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.

    Psalms 64:2-3 - Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words.

  • Example Prophecy: "God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors." (Psalms 7:11-13)

(1) Of the Word of God. (2) Other knowledge.

    John 6:35 - And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

    Hosea 9:4 KJV - They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD.

    Mark 7:26-28 - The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.

    Amos 8:11 - Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.

  • Example prophecy: "And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart." (Psalms 104:15)

(1) The armor of the righteousness of God, and as protection from sin and the wicked. The material that the breastplate is made of can be significant - an iron breastplate, for example, would refer to righteousness paid for by Jesus (Who wields the 'rod of iron').

    Isaiah 59:17 - For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.

    Ephesians 6:14 - Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness...

  • Example prophecy: "And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle." (Revelation 9:9)

(1) Metaphorically, in the refining process sancification, brimstone is the fuel of the purifying fire of God - which is Love.

    Isaiah 30:33 - For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.

    Psalms 11:6 - He poureth on the wicked snares, fire, and brimstone, And a horrible wind is the portion of their cup.

  • Example prophecy: "And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone." (Ezekiel 38:22)

(1) A very powerful weapon of God's wrath in the hands of the wicked or heathen. Used for reproof or persecution [example: a zealous witness for another religion or denomination with authority, or the taunts of an athiest in authority].

    Kings 13:14 - Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.

    Psalms 76:6 - At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.

    Psalms 20:7-8 - Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.

  • Example prophecy: "And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider; With thee also will I break in pieces man and woman; and with thee will I break in pieces old and young" (Jeremiah 51:19-23)

(1) A spiritual city is a large church or local group made up of God's people in His churches.

    Jeremiah 4:5-6 - Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities. Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.

    Psalms 46:4 - There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. (Ed: This city is indicated as actually several physical locations yet all with the same beliefs.)

    Psalms 127:1 - Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

  • Example prophecy: "The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein." (Jeremiah 4:29)

Desolate, Desolation:
(1) The state of an individual who has disobeyed of fallen away from God. (2) An area where there are discouraged, back-slidden, or legalistic believers.

    Psalms 25:16-17 - Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.

    Psalms 34:21-22 - Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

    Psalms 73:18-19 - Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.

  • Example prophecy: "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." (Daniel 9:27)

(1) Shortage of the Word of God, usually self-inflicted when people have turned from God and are uncomfortable reading His judgements.

    Amos 8:11 - Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.

    Jeremiah 5:12-13 - They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine. And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.

  • Example prophecy: "A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them." (Ezekiel 5:12)

Fear of God:
(1) Love and respect for God. (2) Respect based on the knowledge that disobeying God's requirement that we love one another, inevitably if we mistreat one another evil will result all around. The Bible has many examples of people and kings who did not believe in Israel's God, yet respected Him knowing that not doing so would upset Israel, causing them to act as God's wrath, or they might respect Israel's God because of the law of his or her own conscience.

    Psalms 111:10 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

    Isaiah 33:5-6 - The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness. And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.

    Psalms 19:9-11 - The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

  • Example prophecy: "The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good." (Psalms 36:1-3)

(1) Emotion: God's Love - The refining fire that convicts of sin, brings repentance, and sanctifies the sinner. (2) Emotion: Righeousness, as illustrated by Nebuchadnezzar being allowed to conquer Israel after she had become oppressive. Even though he held many captive, Nebuchadnezzar was considered more righteous than Israel at the time, and he did a better job of taking care of God's poor and destitute. (3) Regular earthly fire.

    Psalms 104:3-4 - Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire(2)...

    Psalms 18:6-8 - In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire(1) out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

    Psalms 39:1-4 KJV - I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire(1) burned: then spake I with my tongue, LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.

    Revelation 1:14 - His [Jesus] head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were as a flame of fire(1).

    1 Peter 1:7 - That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes though it be tarried with fire(1), might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

    James 3:6 - And the tongue is a fire(2)&ldots; (James 3:6).

    Hebrews 1:7 - And of the angels He says, Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire(2).

    1 Corinthians 3:13 - Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire(1); and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

    Hebrews 12:29 - For our God is a consuming fire(1)

    Luke 3:16 - John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I comes, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire(1).

    Psalms 50:3 - Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire(1) shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.

    Psalms 11:6 - Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire(1) and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.

  • Example prophecy: "Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire(1) goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled." (Psalms 97:2-4)

(1) A large increase of knowledge of God and/or man. See 'Water'. (2) An influx of people with a differing belief or religion. See 'Sea'.

    Jeremiah 46:8 - Egypt riseth up like a flood(1), and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof.

    Isaiah 59:19 - So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood(2), the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

  • Example prophecy: "And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth." (Revelation 12:15-16)

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