Murky Metaphors – Frost Like Ashes


He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat. He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow. He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws.  Praise the Lord. – Psalm 147:13-20

I have been in Ghana for almost a month now and the language of this Psalm makes me a bit homesick for the cold and ice of Michigan. I could really appreciate an “icy blast” about now.

Several of the metaphors seem strange in this passage. Perhaps there is cultural context that I am missing. For example, the phrase “his word runs swiftly”. I do not remember God’s word or commands being compared to running before – swift or otherwise. I am not sure what to make of this metaphor.

From a contemporary Christ follower’s perspective it makes sense because God dwells in us through Jesus and the Holy spirit. His word arrives at the speed of thought through a soul to soul connection for those who have “picked up the phone”. It is much less clear to me the meaning this metaphor would have held for the Israelites.

The water metaphors in this passage are also somewhat confusing…”He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes”. It almost seems like the author is writing about something they rarely experience and as a result the analogy they choose is a little odd. Sort of like if someone from Michigan tried to use an analogy involving coconuts or palm trees.

God’s word overcomes the “icy blast” that produces snow, frost, and hail — “He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.” This reminds me of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

In the book “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”. Children travel through a magic wardrobe to Narnia which is locked into a perpetual deep freeze by the white witch. The arrival of the lion, Aslan, the Christ figure breaks the icy blast and spring arrives in Narnia.

It may be stretching this analogy too far, but what if this is a prophetic reference to Jesus — A prediction of His coming to melt the icy bonds of sin and death.

This passage is “tricky water” to be sure. I may be completely lost in my interpretations, but my reflections have taken me further down the river despite my confusion and lack of clarity.

Prayer: God help me to understand the meaning hidden in this passage as I continue down the river.


This entry was posted in Christian Community, Christian Leadership, Christianity, Covenant, Discipleship, Following God, Healing, Obedience, Psalms, reconciliation, Redemption, religion, The Nature of God. Bookmark the permalink.

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