SIMILE; or, RESEMBLANCE.


A Declaration that one Thing resembles another; or, Comparison by Resemblance.

Sim’-i’-le. This is the Latin name of the figure; from similis, like, similar, resembling closely, or in many respects. This figure has no corresponding Greek name. Indeed it can hardly be called a figure, or an unusual form of expression, seeing it is quite literal, and one of the commonest forms of expression in use. It is a cold, clear, plain statement as to a resemblance between words and things. The whole application of the figure lies in this Resemblance, and not in Representation, as in Metonymy*; or in Implication, as in Hypocatastasis; or, in Association, as in Synecdoche.
*I believe the author means Metaphor here.

Accordingly, when this resemblance is not apparent, or is counter to our ordinary perception of things, it jars upon the ear. Such Similes abound in human writings. Hence the pleasure of studying the use of them in the Word of God, where we have the Holy Spirit’s own perfect work.

Many examples could be given of false, or incongruous Similes in human writings. Take, for example, Montgomery’s poem on Satan:*
…..“Lo I the bright dew-bead on the bramble lies,
… …Like liquid rapture upon Beauty’s eyes.”
* Quoted in Macbeth’s Might and Mirth of Literature.

We fail to see any resemblance between beauteous eyes and a bramble; or, any meaning at all in “liquid rapture.”


So Mrs. Browning:
…..“Then the bitter sea
…. .Inexorably pushed between us both;
…. .And sweeping up the steep with my despair,
…. .Threw us out as a pasture to the stars.”

We fail to see any resemblance between a ship and a pasture;
and why stars go out to grass; or, when they do, why they should feed on ships and their passengers!

No such inexplicable similes as these can be found in the Scriptures.

When one is used there, it is “for our learning;” and the more we study it the more we may learn.

They are usually marked by the Caph (כ)† in Hebrew; and in the Greek by ὡς (hōs), as;
καθώς (kathōs), like as; or, by some seventeen other kindred words *; and the English: “as”, “like as”,
“even as,” “like” etc.
Kaf
* See under the word “AS” in A Critical Lexicon and Concordance, by the same author. Longman and Co., 15s.


Simile differs from Comparison, in that comparison admits of dissimilitudes as well as resemblances.

Simile differs from Allegory (q.v.) in that Allegory names only one of the two things and leaves us to find, and make the resemblance with the other, ourselves.

Simile differs from Metaphor (q.v.), in that it merely states resemblance, while Metaphor boldly transfers the representation.

Simile differs from Hypocatastasis (q.v.), in that the latter only implies the resemblance, while Simile states it.

Simile, therefore, is destitute of feeling. It is clear, beautiful, gentle, true to fact, but cold and too deliberate for passion.

All this will be seen as the Similes are studied. They require no explanation. They explain and are intended to explain themselves. It is scarcely necessary to give any examples. They abound throughout the Scripture, and impart to it much of its beauty and force.

Psa. 1:3—“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.”
Here, the similitude tells us that the man who meditates in God’s word is planted and protected,
just as a tree in a garden is cared for as a “tree of the field” is not.
See under Ellipsis, page 97.

Psa. 1:4—“The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”
The contrast between the driven chaff and the “planted” tree is most striking and solemn.

The two comparisons are the great features of the Psalm, the structure of which is as follows: —

…..A / a / 1. The godly blessed in not standing among the ungodly.
 … … . . / b / 2, 3– Comparison (כי אם). “Like a tree.”
 …… … . . ./ c / -3 Prosperity.
…..A / c/ 4- The Contrary: “not so.”
…  . .    / b / -4 Comparison (כי אם). “Like the chaff.”
…       ….  / a / 5. The ungodly punished in not standing among the godly.

Then the last verse stands out alone in solemn grandeur as giving the reason for the whole.

Psa. 5:12 (13)—“With favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”
And why is His “favour” (i.e., His grace, which is favour to the unworthy) like a shield?
Because “in his favour is life,” Psa. 30:5 (6); because in His favour there is mercy (Isa. 60:10);
because in His favour there is preservation (Psa. 86:2, margin); because in His favour there is security, Psa. 41:11 (12): and therefore the prayer of all such favoured ones will ever be Psa. 106:4.

Psa. 17:8—“Keep me as the apple of the eye [is kept].”

Psa. 131:2—“I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.”

Matt. 7:24-27—Here we have a magnificent and extended Simile, almost amounting to a parable. It is too long to quote, and too plain to need elucidation. It explains to us very clearly and forcibly its own powerful lesson.

Matt. 9:36—“They . . . were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd.

1 Pet. 2:25—“Ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

Here we have Simile, which stands in marked contrast to the Proverb in 2 Pet. 2: 22, as to the “sow”. Both the stray sheep and the washed sow “return”. But the one returns to the shepherd, and the other to the mire. We may note also that the verb “returned” as used of the “sheep” is the passive form; while, as used of the “sow,” it is the active form. Showing that the “sheep” is made to return by a constraining power, while the “sow” returns of its own act and free-will.
See under Paroemia.

Sometimes a Simile is really used as a figure, implying not merely a resemblance but the actual thing itself.

Gen. 25:31—“Sell me as on this day (כַּיּוֹם kayyōm)”: i.e., on this very day. See, too, verse 33.

Num. 11:1—The Heb. reads: “And when the People was as murmurers, it was evil in the ears of Jehovah.” Here the resemblance was real; i.e., they were murmurers.

Neh. 7:2—“I gave my brother Hanani . . . charge over Jerusalem: for he acted as a faithful man (כְּאִיש), etc.” : i.e. he was a faithful man.

Isa. 1:7—“It is desolate as the overthrow of strangers.”
See A.V. margin.
See under Antimereia, and compare Isa. 13:6.

Isa. 1:9—“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”

Here the words of the godly remnant declare the resemblance; and in the next verse Jehovah endorses it as true; addressing the ungodly but most religious nation actually as “the rulers of Sodom “and” the people of Gomorrah.”

Psa. 122:3—“Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together”: i.e. :,
it was a city so built.

Hos. 5:10—“The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound”: i.e., they actually committed this sin, the greatness of which is seen from Deut. 19:14; 27:17.

Matt. 14:5—“Because they counted him as a prophet”: i.e., as actually a prophet.

Luke 22:44—“His sweat was as it were great drops of blood “: i.e., it was.

John 1:14—“And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father”: i.e., the glory of Him who was really the only begotten Son of the Father.

Rom. 9:32—“Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were (i.e., actually) by the works of the law.”

2 Cor. 2:17—“We are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God,
in the sight of God speak we in Christ: i.e., we speak really and truly sincere, pure, and Divine words.

2 Cor. 3:18—“We are all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror (κατοπτρίζόμενοι, katoptrizomenoi) the glory of the Lord, are transfigured to the same image, from glory to glory, even as from the Lord—the Spirit”: i.e., really by the actual operation of the Holy Spirit. His office is to glorify Christ; and those who are led by the Spirit do occupy themselves with Christ—the heavenly object, and thus become like Him, heavenly, and that without an effort. Indeed, the measure in which we are “filled with the Spirit” is the measure in which we are thus occupied with Christ.

Sometimes the word “as” is followed by the word “so” to strengthen and heighten the comparison,
and make it more clear: as in
Isa. 24:2—“And it shall be
…..As with the people,
….……So with the priest;
…..As with the servant,
…..…..So with his master;
…..As with the maid.
…..…..So with her mistress;
…..As with the buyer.
……….So with the seller;
…..As with the lender,
…..…..So with the borrower;
…..As with the taker of usury.
…..…..So with the giver of usury to him.”

And all this to show the universality of the judgment which shall make the land empty and desolate.
This is a combination of Syncrisis with this form of Simile,
Isa. 55:10, 11 —
…..a / “As the rain cometh down, and the snow
……….b / From heaven,
…..……….c / And returneth not thither, but watereth the earth,
.                       and maketh it bring forth and bud,
….…..………..d / That it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater.
…..a / So shall my word be that goeth forth
…..…..b / Out of my mouth:
……..…….c / It shall not return unto me void,
……..…..…….d / But it shall accomplish that which I please,
…                      . .and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Here, in this beautiful comparison, we have in a and a the two things compared, the Word resembling the rain and snow; in b and b we have their source; in c and c, their destiny, not returning void; and in d and d, their end prospering, and the accomplishment of their mission.

……….……….……….“AS” and “SO.”

We have collected a number of these examples of the use of “as” and “so” together; and arranged them, not in the sequence of the books of the Bible, or in full; but we have numbered them and placed them so as to illustrate the ways of God in grace:—
(1) Sin and death (Rom. 5:12). These words explain the mystery of the first and last Adam, and the first and second man: their temptation and its results as shown in Gen. 3., Matt. 4., and Rom. 6:23.
This explains—
(2) Offense and righteousness: judgment and free gift (Rom. 5:18); also—
(3) Disobedience and obedience: sinners and righteous (Rom. 5:19).
Hence the eternal results of—
(4) Sin and death: grace and eternal life (Rom. 5:21). Now we pass from sin and its entrance and consequences to—
(5) its remedy. The Serpent and the Son of Man (John 3:14). Note the two “musts” (verses 7 and 14); and the parabolic miracle of Num. 21:5-9. Note the “lifting up” spoken of in John 12:32. The “all” means all without distinction (no longer the one People of Israel) not “all” without exception.
In due time Christ came to be thus “lifted up,” and—
(6) do the Father’s will, and Commandment, and He did (John 14:31), and—
(7) suffered; Lamb dumb, and so He; etc. (Isa. 53:7).
Hence—
(8) Once to die, and once offered (Heb. 9:27, 28).
Then
(9) they are sent, “Sent Me” and “sent them” (John 17:18)
(10) to bear testimony of His grace: “Believed” and “done” (Matt. 8:13),
(11) yea, of His life-giving grace: Life (John 5:26).
(12) God reveals Himself: Heaven and earth; ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:9), and
(13) man, morally: Foolish as a beast (Psa. 73:22).
(14) Fathers and sons, etc., ye (Acts 7:51); and
(15) physically, the Flower that flourisheth (Psa. 103:15). Then He reveals
(16) His mercy: Heaven high and mercy great (Psa. 103:11),
(17) His forgiveness: East from west and trangressions removed (Psa. 103:12),
(18) His pity: A father and the Lord (Psa. 103:13), and
(19) His love: The Father and I (John 15:9).
Then He reveals
(20) our relationships and duties: Many members and one body (Rom. 12:4; see 1 Cor. 12:12, 13).
(21) Mutual forgiveness: Christ forgave and do ye (Col. 3:13),
(22) Christ-like walk: Received and walk ye (Col. 2:6).
(23) Divine consolations: Sufferings and consolation (2 Cor. 1:5, 7).
(24) Missionary work: Received and minister (1 Pet. 4:10);
with
(25) the Divine promise, Rain and snow: the word of God (Isa. 55:10, 11); and
(26) the Divine support, Thy days and thy strength (Deut. 33:25).
Oh may our desire to do His will be according to,
(27) The hart panting, and the soul longing (Psa. 42:1 (2)).

The Jew.
(28) All blessing based on God’s original covenant-promise; Stars and seed
(Jer. 33:22), see especially Gen. 15:5, and Rom. 4:18. The covenant of works they brake, see Ex. 24:3, 7 and Jer. 31:32, and are now suffering the consequences.
(29) The future blessing of Israel will be under the original covenant of grace:
as Mother comforteth, so will I comfort (Isa. 66:13).
(30) Bridegroom and thy God (Isa. 62:5).
(31) The waters of Noah, and wrath (Isa. 54:9, 10).
(32) Shepherd seeking and I will seek (Ezek. 34:12).

The Gentile.
We must not separate what God has joined together, nor join together what God has separated
(Matt. 19:6). The Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God, are distinct in their calling, standing, hope, and destiny (1 Cor. 10:32). The preaching of the Gospel is not to convert the world, but to take out
a People (Acts 15:14); while the world will get worse and worse until Christ suddenly comes.
(33) Lightning, and coming (Matt. 24:27).
(34) The days of Noah, and the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:37-39).

The Church Of GOD.
Christ’s advent will wear a different aspect to the Church. Not like the lightning or a thief, but
(35) “this same Jesus.” As ye have seen Him go will so come (Acts 1:11). Christ’s resurrection is the type and pledge of ours.
(36) As all in Adam die, so all in Christ made alive (1 Cor. 15:22). Note the “order” (verses 23 and 24).

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.From “Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible” by E. W. Bullinger,
(Public Domain) pages 726-733. Adapted for website compatibility.
.See original at link.      Stream         Download.

The original page for Simile from 2014 was https://figuresofspeechinthebible.net/?page_id=4180 but that page was reworked to create this page (Simile: update 1/05/2020).
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