(For congregational participation): I want to start with you a little quiz; a warm up exercise – a bit like Catchphrase on the TV – to get the grey-matter working: Complete the following sayings for me:

  1. Nothing but skin and… bones (Job 19:19-20)
  2. I escaped by the skin of my… teeth (Job 19:20)
  3. There’s a time and a place for… everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
  4. Going the extra… mile (Matthew 5:41)
  5. United we stand, “divided we… fall” (Matthew 12:25)
  6. Red sky at… night (Matthew 16:2-3)
  7. In the twinkling… of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52)
  8. A man after my own… heart (1 Samuel 13:14)
  9. A little bird… told me (Ecclesiastes 10:20)
  10. A leopard cannot change its… spots (Jeremiah 13:23)
  11. How the mighty have… fallen (2 Samuel 1:25)
  12. Pride comes… before a fall (Proverbs 16:18)
  13. By the sweat of your… brow (Genesis 3:19)
  14. Out of the mouths of… babes (Psalm 8:2)
  15. Eat drink and be… merry (Luke 12:19)
  16. The blind leading… the blind (Matthew 15:14)
  17. Along the straight… and narrow (Matthew 7:14)
  18. Tearing your hair… out (Ezra 9:3)
  19. At my wit’s… end (Psalm 107:27)
  20. The writing is on… the wall (Daniel 5:5-6)

Who can tell me what all of these everyday sayings have in common? (They all come from the Bible.) It may surprise you, but we all know a lot more of the Bible than we might think we do. Many of us, today, don’t realize that the Bible (the KJV in particular) has been enormously influential in the development of our own English language.

R. Ian Seymour