Rev. 6:5-6 – When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and there was a black horse. The horseman on it had a balance scale in his hand. Then I heard something like a voice among the four living creatures say, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius – but do not harm the olive oil and the wine” (HCSB).
A black horse
This horse is black, the color of sadness and want, according to some commentators. It is the color of a starless sky, the absence of light, a terror especially in ancient times when the lack of a torch or lamp would paralyze a person seeking to find his way. It symbolizes sin and death. For the unbeliever, we are told that hell is “outer darkness” away from the presence of God, Who is light (1 John 1:5); it is the “blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13). It also is the color of earthly judgment, for in Rev. 6:12 we see that the sun turns black like sackcloth made of goat’s hair.
Black often is used to denote the color of physical objects, according to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary: hair (Lev. 13:31, 37; Song 5:11); skin (Job 30:30; Song 1:5–6; Lam. 4:8); the sky as a sign of rain (1 Kings 18:45); and animals (Gen. 30:32–43; Zech. 6:2, 6; Rev. 6:5). “Black” also is used figuratively to describe mourning (Job 30:28; Jer. 4:28; 8:21; 14:2); a visionless day (Mic. 3:6); the abode of the dead (Job 3:5; Jude 13); and the treachery of Job’s friends (Job 6:16)
In Rev. 6:5, the horse’s black color no doubt signifies famine, for the description of the rider and his scales tells us that food is a scarce and expensive commodity.
Next: A balance scale in the rider’s hand (Rev. 6:5-6)