God Compared to a Potter

“We are the clay, and thou are Potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Isaiah 64:8b
“Hath not the potter power over the clay,” Romans 9:21a

According to the usual method of scripture metaphors, we find the Lord God set forth under the metaphorial notion of a Potter, which shall be illustrated in the ensuing parallel.

METAPHOR PARALLEL
A Potter is an artificer, an artizan or workman, one skilful to work in earth, or to form and make pots, and other vessels of clay. God is the Maker of all men and things that ever were, or shall be.
A Potter prepares his clay or matter first, of which he intends to make his vessels; and when he hath made it fit, and ready for the wheel, he goes to work. God created or prepared the earth, the clay, before he formed man, and out of it was he made: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, “ Genesis 2:7.
A Potter projects before-hand, what kind of vessel he will make of such clay; he hath the form and fashion of it in his mind, before he goes to work; nay, (and it may be) makes known what a vessel he will make. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” Acts 15:18. He contrived in his eternal counsel, what a kind of creature he would make man; nay, at the time of his formation, he declared what a rare vessel he should be: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Genesis 1:26
A Potter makes vessels of divers sorts and sizes, and for several uses; some are for more honourable and noble services than others. God makes vessels of divers sorts and sizes; all men are not of the like stature and beauty in their first formation; neither are they so, as they are made or formed anew in Christ Jesus; for some vessels are designed by the great Potter to contain the golden oil, and soul-enriching treasure, for the emptying of them unto others.
A Potter takes great care of the vessels he hath made, and bestowed his labour and pains upon, that they may not be broken; for they are brittle ware, and he is greatly offended with such as strive to dash them to pieces. God takes great care of those pots or vessels he hath made, nay, twice made, or formed for himself: he gives a charge concerning them, and rebukes kings for their sakes; “Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” 1 Chronicles 16:22. The devil and wicked men shall one day go to wreck, for that violence offered to those curious vessels that God hath prepared to glory: “But he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.” Galatians 5:10.
METAPHOR DISPARITY
A Potter hath not his skill in making vessels from himself, but is taught by some other man. God hath his wisdom of, and from himself.
A Potter many times wants skill in framing of some curious vessels, and not only so, but care; and by this means the vessel is marred, and spoiled in his hand. God is infinite in wisdom, loveth all things he goes about, and his care is accordingly; a God that is never unmindful of the work of his hands; so that if any vessel is broken, the fault is not in him, but either in themselves, or some cursed enemy.
A Potter makes not all the vessels which are upon the wheel for his own use and profit, but for the use of others. God makes all things for himself, “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” Proverbs 16:4.
A Potter cannot make vessels, unless he hath clay or matter to make them with, or to work upon. God first made the clay, he created the dust of the earth, and then out of it made or framed man.
A Potter makes vessels that are very defective, as they first come off the wheel. God never made or framed any vessel, but as it came out of his hand it was well done, without fault or blemish: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31.

APPLICATION

  1. Is God the Potter, and man the clay? This may teach men to lie low before the God of heaven and earth; what is the clay in the Potter’s hand?
  2. We may infer from hence, that man is not made for himself, but for some particular use.
  3. And since the glory of God was the principal thing he designed, in making and forming of us; let us see we do not rise up against him in a sinful way, to his dishonour.
  4. You may know from hence how frail and brittle man is, sooner broken than a Potter’s vessel.
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Benjamin Keech