The metaphor is indispensable and a great necessity in the Scriptures. With this tool, the writers of Scriptures were given the opportunity to impart the things of God to men. Scriptural metaphors may be classified under four headings. Natural, artificial, sacred, and historical. A metaphor is a trope, by which a word is diverted from its proper and original meaning to another for the sake of comparison, or because there is some analogy between the visible likeness, or image; and/or to give an imaginative comparison to the thing indicated.
Of all the means in the art of speaking and writing, the metaphor is that which is most frequently used in Scripture. A metaphor is used to enrich one's mind with two ideas at the same time. They being the truth and the similitude. Following are several passages that should illustrate the idea quite well in the description of a metaphor.
Deuteronomy 32:42, "I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh."
This first metaphor, "I will make mine arrows drunk with blood," is borrowed from the idea of excessive and uncontrolled drinking. Excessive drinking as a way of life will ruin physically, mentally, and morally.
The comparison: It is to announce a great loss of blood (life) and the total ruin and destruction which would come upon the disobedient Israelites if they continue in their ways.
The second metaphor, God said, "And my sword shall devour flesh," is drawn from the live image of a hungry beast, having a ravenous appetite for flesh.
This metaphor gives us an animated picture that presents to us the impossibility of there being any escape from the wrath and judgements of God, should He be provoked. In His hand He carries a two-edged sword in which no sinner can escape.
Psalms 139:2, The Psalmist wrote, "Thou understandest my thought afar off."
Here the metaphor is taken from the prospect of a distant object. But in a correct sense the phrase assures all believers that God, by His presence, knows our innermost thoughts well before they come into our hearts, or are spoken with our mouths.
So, in order to understand a metaphor correctly, it should be observed that the foundation of each metaphor consists in a likeness or similarity between the thing from which it is drawn and that which it is applied. When the resemblance is shown in one or more expressions, it is termed a simple metaphor.
When it is pursued with a variety of expressions, or there is a continued assemblage of metaphors, it is called an allegory.
When a metaphor is hidden in, included, or involved in a short sentence, it being obscure and ambiguous, it is called a riddle.
If it is conveyed in a short saying only, it is a proverb; and if the metaphorical representation is delivered in the form of a history, it is a parable.
When the resemblance seems to be far-fetched one, as in,
Rev.1:12, "I turned to see the voice that spake with me," it’s termed a catachresis. A catachresis is used the least of all the above.