In all human cultures, human beings tend to insert figurative language in their everyday communication. It is natural. When someone claims to be “the hand of the King”, we know that they are not claiming to be connected to the King’s arm, graphed into the skin, and hold objects for the King. We associate hands with power and the ability to perform. The “hand of the King” is someone who can accomplish things for the King.
Throughout the Bible, we find these metaphors about God:
Rth 2:12 The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
In Ruth, God covers people with His “wings”. An eagle will protect its young by covering them with a large wing. Wings mean protection. When God protects His people, likewise He is covering them with His wing. An honest reader would not expect God to have literal wings. An honest reader would not also assume this precludes God from having wings. The text has nothing to do with if God does or does not have wings.
It is interesting that when Augustinian Christians want to explain how an immutable God could repent, they point to verses like Ruth 2:12 to point out figurative language about God. They will then turn to problem texts such as:
Gen 6:6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Gen 18:21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
The problem is that these verses are not metaphors. A metaphor will compare similar concepts in what is being described with what is real. God protects people “with His wing” as an eagle protects its young. God repenting does not associate with “not repenting”. An Augustinian Christian wants the text to describe the exact opposite as what it says. They call this an anthropomorphism.
Modern Americans should be well familiar with anthropomorphism. Brave Little Toaster, Pixar’s Cars, and a whole host of movies depict human features on inanimate objects. But the problem is that these depictions are purely fictional for entertainment value. Making a talking toaster is not an “idiom”, it is fantasy. Talking toasters do not exist. Describing a talking toaster does not communicate anything. Even when people say “my computer hates me”, it is a joke. It is a joke because computers cannot hate.
Anthropomorphisms depict fiction! For the Calvinist to claim the Bible is filled with anthropomorphisms is to claim the Bible is filled with fictitious portrayals of God that communicate nothing.