Question: "What is the significance of a footstool in the Bible?"
Answer: A footstool is a humble piece of furniture. It is rarely expensive or flashy and is often overlooked. It exists only as a place to rest one’s feet, so a footstool is not considered as valuable as a couch, bureau, or an easy chair. In Matthew 5:35, Jesus referred to the earth as “God’s footstool.” Isaiah 66:1 records the Lord as saying, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” God used this metaphor to help us comprehend how great He is and how insignificant we are by comparison. If our entire planet is nothing but a footstool to our Creator, how small are we in the grand scheme of things?
In Bible times, being near feet or having to touch feet was dishonorable. Feet were dirty, and cleaning them was the job of the lowest servant. To be at a place near someone’s feet—at a footstool, for example—was humbling. That’s why it was so startling when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:4–5).
Several places in Scripture refer to a footstool as a place of humility. Hebrews 1:13 and 10:13 quote Psalm 110:1, which has the Father saying to the Son, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” To be a footstool for someone’s feet is to be in a place of inferiority. Sports teams and others involved in competition or conflict use related idioms such as we’re gonna stomp you or we walked all over them. God says that, despite all Christ suffered on earth, He would make Him victorious over His enemies—He would make them His footstool. Those who mocked and spit on Jesus as they crucified Him will one day bow in worship. All those who reject Jesus today and work against His purposes will one day be humbled at His feet (Philippians 2:9–11; 1 Corinthians 15:25).
James 2:3 also mentions a footstool. James rebukes those who show favoritism by seating the wealthy in the best seats while telling the poor to “sit here by my footstool.” Believers should be no respecters of persons. The poor in a church congregation should have equal status with the rich. There should not be a hierarchy of “best seats” and “footstools.” Everyone stands on level ground before the Lord.
A footstool in the Bible is a symbol of lowliness, humility, and unimportance. It signifies that the one using the footstool is far superior to the footstool itself. It’s amazing that, while God calls the earth His footstool, He still humbled Himself and took on human flesh to become One who lived on that footstool. And He requires that kind of meekness and humility in each of His followers (Philippians 2:5–11).