What Does Stone Symbolize in the Bible

By Paul King •  Updated: 10/01/23 •  15 min read

Throughout the Bible, the symbolism of stone is prevalent and holds significant meaning in various contexts. The mention of stone over 250 times in the Bible emphasizes its importance as a symbol of faith, strength, salvation, judgment, and transformation.

One of the most well-known stories that exemplifies the symbolism of stone is the story of David and Goliath. When David faced the giant Philistine warrior, Goliath, he used a stone from his sling to defeat him. This story not only illustrates the physical strength of a stone but also represents the power of faith and trust in God. As David declares before facing Goliath, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty’ (1 Samuel 17:45). The stone, in this context, symbolizes the unwavering faith and confidence in God’s protection and guidance.

In another instance, we find the symbolism of stone in the Ten Commandments. When Moses received the commandments from God on Mount Sinai, they were inscribed on tablets of stone. These stone tablets represented the permanence and immutability of God’s laws. As Exodus 31:18 states, ‘When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.’ The stone tablets remind us that God’s commandments are enduring and unchanging, providing a foundation for our moral and spiritual lives.

Furthermore, stones are often associated with altars and places of worship in the Bible. For example, when Jacob fled from his brother Esau, he had a dream where he saw a ladder reaching to heaven. In response to this divine encounter, Jacob set up a stone as a pillar and poured oil on it, consecrating it as a place of worship. Genesis 28:18-19 recounts, ‘Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.’ This story highlights the significance of stones as markers of sacred spaces and the connection between God and His people.

The symbolism of stone is also present in Jesus’ teachings. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus declares to Peter, ‘And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’ Here, Jesus uses the metaphor of a rock to symbolize the strong foundation upon which His church will be built. The rock represents the steadfastness of Peter’s faith and the unshakeable nature of Christ’s teachings.

In conclusion, the symbolism of stone in the Bible carries deep spiritual insights and teachings. From the story of David and Goliath to the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, from altars of worship to the foundation of Christ’s church, stones symbolize faith, strength, permanence, and transformation. By exploring these metaphors and stories, we gain a better understanding of the profound truths and concepts that can inspire and uplift those seeking a deeper spiritual comprehension.

Key Takeaways

The Foundation of Faith

The symbolic significance of stone in the Bible is deeply connected to the concept of the foundation of faith. In Matthew 7:24-25, Jesus tells a parable about a wise man who built his house on the rock. When the storms came and the winds blew, the house stood firm because it was built on a strong foundation. This story illustrates the importance of having a solid foundation of faith in God.

In Exodus 33:21-23, Moses asks God to show him His glory. God responds by saying, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.’ Here, the rock represents a place of safety and protection in the presence of God.

Another example of the significance of stone is found in 1 Peter 2:4-5, which says, ‘As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.’ This passage highlights the idea that believers are like living stones, being built together into a spiritual house. It emphasizes the unity and strength that comes from being a part of the body of Christ.

In the Old Testament, we also see the use of stone as a symbol of strength and stability. In 1 Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath, David defeats the giant Goliath with a single stone from his sling. This story demonstrates how God can use the weakest of individuals to accomplish great things when they rely on Him.

Throughout the Bible, stone is used metaphorically to represent the steadfastness and reliability of God’s promises. It symbolizes the unchanging nature of God and His faithfulness to His people. Just as a strong foundation provides stability and support for a building, placing our trust in the solid foundation of God’s word allows us to experience spiritual growth and transformation.

A Symbol of Strength and Stability

Representing resilience and steadfastness, stone serves as an emblem of unwavering fortitude and unyielding stability within the biblical narrative. In the context of spirituality, stone symbolizes endurance and permanence, conveying profound truths and teachings that can transform lives. It evokes a sense of strength and stability that can provide comfort and hope to those in need.

In the book of Psalms, we find a beautiful verse that captures the significance of stone in relation to God’s strength and refuge. Psalm 18:2 states, ‘The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.’ This powerful imagery paints a picture of God as our unyielding rock, offering us protection and security in times of turmoil.

One of the most well-known stories in the Bible that showcases the importance of stone is the tale of David and Goliath. In this story, a young shepherd boy named David faces the intimidating giant, Goliath, in battle. Against all odds, David triumphs over Goliath by using a single stone and a slingshot. This story not only demonstrates the power of God working through an unlikely hero but also highlights the significance of stone as a symbol of strength and victory.

Another biblical account that emphasizes the role of stone is the story of the building of Solomon’s temple. In 1 Kings 5-7, we learn how Solomon constructed a magnificent temple using stones of the highest quality. These stones were carefully crafted and fitted together, symbolizing the importance of a solid foundation in our spiritual lives. Just as the temple stood as a testament to Solomon’s faith and devotion, so too can we build our lives upon the steadfast foundation of God’s truth and teachings.

Jesus himself referenced the significance of stone when he spoke to his disciples about the importance of building our lives on a solid foundation. In Matthew 7:24-25, Jesus says, ‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.’ This metaphorical illustration reminds us that when we anchor our lives to the unchanging truths of God, we can withstand the storms of life and remain steadfast in our faith.

With this understanding of stone’s symbolic power, we can see that it represents not only strength and stability but also the cornerstone of salvation. Just as a cornerstone is essential for the stability and integrity of a building, Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our salvation. In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul writes, ‘Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone’ (Ephesians 2:19-20).

The Cornerstone of Salvation

Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of salvation, is the unshakable foundation upon which believers build their faith. The Bible affirms the significance of the cornerstone, stating, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’ (Psalm 118:22, ESV). This verse emphasizes Jesus’ rejection by some, yet His ultimate exaltation as the cornerstone of salvation.

In the New Testament, the apostle Peter reinforces this truth, writing, ‘For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6, ESV). Peter refers to Jesus as the chosen and precious cornerstone, highlighting the importance of faith in Him for salvation.

To further illustrate the power and significance of Jesus as the cornerstone, let us turn to the story of the wise and foolish builders found in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus tells of two builders—one who built his house on the rock and the other on sand. When the storms came, only the house built on the rock, representing a foundation on Jesus Christ, remained standing. This story emphasizes the importance of anchoring our lives on the solid foundation of Jesus, who provides stability, security, and salvation.

Throughout the Bible, we find numerous stories that manifest Jesus’ compassion for the marginalized and outcasts. In Luke 15:1-7, Jesus shares the parable of the lost sheep. He speaks of a shepherd who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to search for the one that wandered off. This parable reflects Jesus’ deep concern for those who are lost and in need of salvation. His compassionate nature compels Him to seek out and rescue those who are spiritually lost and bring them back into the fold.

Jesus’ teachings are characterized by poetic language, rich in imagery and metaphorical meaning. In Matthew 13:44, Jesus says, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.’ This metaphor illustrates the immeasurable value of the kingdom of heaven, prompting us to prioritize and pursue it above all else.

The Stone of Judgment and Rejection

Conveying a profound message of divine judgment and human rejection, Psalm 118:22 presents the powerful image of a rejected stone transforming into the cornerstone. This biblical symbolism is deeply rooted in the spiritual significance associated with stones throughout the Bible.

In the realm of divine justice, the stone takes on the role of a symbol for judgment. It represents the consequences that individuals face for their actions and their ultimate accountability before God. As Romans 2:6 states, ‘He will repay each person according to what they have done.’ This serves as a reminder that our actions have weight and that justice will ultimately prevail.

Furthermore, the stone of rejection signifies the refusal to accept God’s truth and guidance. This rejection can be seen in the story of the Israelites in the wilderness, who repeatedly turned away from God despite His constant provision and guidance. Their rejection led to their wandering and separation from the Promised Land. This story serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the importance of accepting and following God’s teachings.

The stone of stumbling represents the obstacles and challenges that hinder spiritual growth and lead to downfall. It brings to mind the story of Peter, who stumbled in his faith and denied Jesus three times. It was through this stumble that Peter learned humility and the importance of relying on God’s strength rather than his own. This serves as a reminder that even in our moments of weakness, God can use them for our growth and transformation.

The stone of foundation symbolizes the stability and strength found in God. In Matthew 7:24-25, Jesus says, ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.’ This foundation represents the unwavering faith and trust we can have in God, knowing that He is our solid ground.

Lastly, the stone of transformation signifies the power of God to take what is broken and rejected and make it into something beautiful and purposeful. This can be seen in the story of Joseph, who was rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery. But through God’s intervention, Joseph rose to become a powerful leader in Egypt, saving his family and many others from famine. This story reminds us that God can bring beauty and purpose out of even the most broken circumstances.

Through these profound metaphors, the stone serves as a constant reminder of the consequences of judgment and rejection. However, it also offers hope and redemption through the transformative power of God’s love and grace.

Transitioning to the subsequent section about ‘the stone rolled away: resurrection and transformation,’ we see how the rejected stone becomes the cornerstone of new life and hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Matthew 28:6 proclaims, ‘He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.’ This pivotal event in Christianity showcases the ultimate transformation and victory over rejection and death, offering hope and eternal life to all who believe.

The Stone Rolled Away: Resurrection and Transformation

The rolling away of the stone after the resurrection of Jesus is a powerful symbol of God’s victory over death and His transformative power. It is a significant event in the Christian faith, reminding believers of the hope of eternal life and the promise of salvation.

In the Gospel of Matthew, it is written, ‘And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it’ (Matthew 28:2). This verse shows that the stone was not rolled away by human strength, but by the divine intervention of an angel. This emphasizes the supernatural nature of the resurrection and the power of God to overcome even the greatest obstacles.

The rolling away of the stone also signifies the breaking of the barriers between the physical and spiritual realms. It represents the victory of life over death, as Jesus conquered death and rose again. This is beautifully expressed in the words of the apostle Paul, who wrote, ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Through His resurrection, Jesus has triumphed over death, offering believers the hope of eternal life.

One of the most profound aspects of the rolling away of the stone is that it represents the removal of obstacles and the opening of a path towards salvation. Just as the stone was moved to reveal the empty tomb, so too are the barriers that separate us from God removed through the resurrection of Jesus. In the book of John, Jesus Himself declares, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has made a way for us to be reconciled with God and experience new life.

The story of Lazarus in the Gospel of John provides a powerful illustration of the transformative power of Jesus. Lazarus was dead and buried for four days when Jesus arrived. Despite the doubts and skepticism of those around Him, Jesus called out, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ (John 11:43). Miraculously, Lazarus emerged from the tomb, alive and transformed. This story serves as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ own resurrection and the promise of new life for all believers.

The rolling away of the stone after the resurrection of Jesus is a symbol of transformation and new beginnings. It reminds us that through the resurrection of Jesus, we can experience a spiritual rebirth and be transformed into new creations. As the apostle Paul writes, ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). This transformation is not simply a change in outward appearance, but a deep, inner renewal of the heart and soul.

Paul King

I post written versions of my powerful sermons exploring topics like prayer, praise, biblical truths, and more expressions of faith. My church has a deeply spiritual culture, which I try to convey through vivid storytelling and applications in our everyday life. I spread the Good Word with lots of conviction and passion.