Multitude of sayings have deep Biblical roots

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2011

I am a collector. I guess that explains why a pack rat like me saves so much stuff. One day it occurred to me that if a mouse squeaks, a pack rat would squeal, “Keep it, keep it, keep it!”

My collections include postage stamps, old books and Bibles, presidential campaign memorabilia, anything by or about C.S. Lewis, and last, but not least, family history. I also collect quotes and old sayings and research on their origin. Did you know many old sayings spoken every day come from the Bible?

If someone says you’re as “old as Methuselah,” you are beyond retirement age. He lived to be 969 years old, the oldest man listed in the Bible. If you help someone in need, someone may call you a “good Samaritan.”

When asked how a mutual friend or family member is doing, folks sometimes reply, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” That was Cain’s answer in Genesis 4:9 when God confronted him about killing his brother.

Still today, when someone behaves badly that person is “raising Cain.” The parenting principle, “spare the rod, spoil the child” is based on Proverbs 13:24. If a child says something remarkable for his or his age, you might hear the comment “out of the mouth of babes.”

“To kill the fatted calf” refers to preparations for a joyful occasion because that is what the father of the prodigal son did in Luke 15:11-32. “To turn the other cheek” and not strike someone in return for injury or insult comes from Jesus’ teaching in Luke 6:29. Jesus also talked about the “blind leading the blind” in Luke 6:39.

Have you ever said that you “wash your hands” of a situation? It means to refuse to accept responsibility for something and it comes from Matthew 27:24 when Pontius Pilate washed his hands before allowing Jesus to be put to death.

If you see the “handwriting on the wall” warning of danger, you may also find “your days are numbered.” The prophet Daniel interpreted a message written by a mysterious hand that informed King Belshazzar his kingdom was about to be overthrown. Read Daniel chapter 6.

Unexpected assistance is often referred to as “manna from heaven,” as in the food that miraculously appeared to feed the Israelites on their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. See Exodus 16:15. If you are made the scapegoat, you get all the blame. Read about the reason for a scapegoat on the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16

Some sayings like “jumping Jehoshaphat” or “land a Goshen” are exclamations of surprise using the name of an Old Testament king of Judah and the fertile land in Egypt where the Israelites lived.

This collection of words and phrases proves once again that the Bible is a timeless book. One can spend a lifetime learning the truth on its page. “Lord willing,” I’ll keep studying this best-selling book of all time and find more old sayings to live by.