Maybe the title of this article is a bit surprising to you or maybe it isn't. The point of this article is to demonstrate metaphoric, hyperbolic, apocalyptic language that we see over and over and over again in the bible. Perhaps someone out there will realize that Jesus on the Mount of Olives was speaking the exact same way to the Jews when He warned them of what was approaching.
David had many enemies. There was Saul and the friends of Goliath and Cush. There were many others, even David's own son Absalom. They all wanted to kill David. David hid from his enemies in the woods and fields and hills. He hid behind rocks and on the tops of hills. This made David feel like he was drowning. He thought that he would soon be killed and in Sheol so he asks God for help.
In verse 6 of Psalm chapter 18 we read that David cried out to God for help. Something that I can personally relate to as that is exactly how I met the Lord myself one day back in 2011. But here is verse 6...
"In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears" Psalm 18:6
Now check out what happens next. God answers him. He delivers him. He delivered David from his enemies and David defeated them all. He set David as a ruler over many people. But pay close attention to how this is all worded.
"Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken, Because He was angry. Smoke went up from His nostrils, And devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it. HE BOWED THE HEAVENS also, and CAME DOWN with darkness UNDER HIS FEET. And He RODE upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters And thick clouds of the skies.From the brightness before Him, His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire."
Did you catch all of that? David cries out to God for help, God answers. But did God literally bow the heavens? Did he literally COME DOWN WITH DARKNESS UNDER HIS FEET AND RIDE DOWN ON A CHERUB AND FLY DOWN? Of course not! Does this seem like a big exaggeration on Davids part? Of course it does! But why would he speak like this? Well because that was common practice back then for them. Very different than you and I today. This was the norm. This was how they spoke and what they understood. Let's check out a few more descriptions of God delivering David from his enemies...verse 13...
"The Lord thundered from heaven, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe, Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them. Then the channels of the sea were seen, THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE WORLD WERE UNCOVERED. At Your rebuke, O Lord, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils."
Woah! The foundations of the world were uncovered?! That sounds pretty serious. That sounds like the end of the physical material creation to me. But was it? No. Just metaphorical depictions of God's anger.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to biblical proof to establish this point. God never physically came down or physically destroyed the earth nor did He physically bow the heavens back when He delivered David from His enemies.
The same interpretive approach should be taken when reading Jesus' words in the New Testament. The bible is one book with one message. The interpretation should not change from one Testament to the other. We must remain consistent and allow scripture to interpret scripture.
The culture of the original audience remains the same throughout. We are the ones who have to adjust accordingly in order to get the full picture.