KJV Phrases Used Today in Modern Times


For everything there is a season

Most will have heard of the young shepherd David, who killed Goliath by slinging a stone which struck the giant in the forehead. David later became king of Israel and successfully fought many battles with God's help. He is described as "a man after God's own heart" (1 Sam.13:14) because he always asked God's advice and tried to follow it.

One of David's sons, Solomon, became king after him. He, too, initially pleased God, who offered him whatever he wished. Solomon chose the gift of wisdom, and the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which contain many wise sayings, are thought to have been largely written by him. Ecclesiastes starts with "The words of the Preacher (NIV Teacher), the son of David, king in Jerusalem".

The familiar phrase "For everything there is a season" comes from Ecclesiastes 3:1, which continues "and a time for every purpose under the heaven". The RSV has ". . . every matter under heaven", and the NIV "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven". Whatever the style of language, the meaning is the same. Chapter 3 is interesting to read, and it's tempting to quote it in its entirety. One cannot deny the God-given wisdom of Solomon, which covers every aspect of life and is as relevant today as it was in Old Testament times.

There is a right and a wrong time for almost any activity (providing we realise that God will observe it, whatever it is) and we should always bear this in mind if we hope to please our Father in Heaven. We could do worse than read and try to remember Solomon's words.


Pride goes before a fall.

This proverb has a good pedigree. It comes from the book of the Bible called Proverbs.

It’s found in Proverbs 16:18. The whole verse reads, “ Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall “. (KJV)

What it’s saying is that those who are proud, arrogant, haughty ... are likely to ‘ take a tumble ‘ ... and quite likely, due to their arrogance, due to their ‘ pride , in themselves the ‘ fall ‘ might be pretty calamitous. One who builds an ego, by ‘ showing-off’ ... and making a lot of people ‘ notice ‘ them ... will in consequence be noticed by many people when they ‘ fall ‘.

You can maybe picture the situation ... you are in the street and have just had an argument with someone ... as you walk away, in your pride and anger, you turn and have one last final retort, ‘ to get the last word in ‘, ... and you trip over the curb and fall flat on your face !

A few biblical examples of those whose pride preceeded a fall.

Goliath, who taunted David, (Israel’s future king) finished up flat on his face, dead, killed by one little pebble. (1 Samuel 17)

The prophet Isaiah, prophesying about Babylon said this, “ ... I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible “

That is a clear statement of ‘ pride ‘ leading ultimately to a catastrophic fall. (Isaiah 13)

In The Book of Esther, Queen Esther was holding a banquet to which only the king and Haman were invited. Now Haman was trying to bring about the downfall of the Jews who lived in Babylon. Read the story in The Book of Esther, chapter 3 to chapter 8. Haman was to die on the gallows he had made for Mordecai. A great example of pride preceeding a fall.

From the New Testament we could cite Peter the Apostle. Peter was a very strong character. He was a fisherman, and men who go out in boats onto the sea are generally strong-willed purposeful people. Peter was the Apostle who stood by and warmed himself whilst witnessing the mockery of a trial to which Jesus was subjected prior to his crucifixion. Not long before this, Peter had said to Jesus, (you can read it in the Gospel according to Matthew 26:33), “ ... Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended “. Again in verse 35, “ Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee ... “. On a few verses, still in chapter 26, and read verses 69 to 75, which show how an upright man like Peter could so easily fall to such a low ebb, that, as it says in the last words of verse 75, “ ... And he (Peter), went out and wept bitterly “.

Jesus himself was of course the perfect example of how to not show pride. You can read in Matthew ch.5 how he taught us not to be proud but rather be meek and humble.


Can the leopard change his spots?

This phrase is taken from Jeremiah 13:23, which reads, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (KJV) In other words, if the leopard could change his spots, then the wicked people of Judah could do good. The NIV makes the meaning clearer, ending the verse “. . . Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” A thoroughly negative verse, especially if one is “accustomed to doing evil”! But who is?

People generally try to behave well, and “evil” is too strong a word to describe most transgressions nowadays. Jeremiah was speaking to the Israelites towards the end of the times of the Kings, about 600 years BC, when they had forsaken God and were worshipping idols.

Whilst the leopard can do nothing to change the appearance of his coat, human beings can alter their ways, if they wish, and try to do the things that will please God. Later in Jeremiah’s prophecy, God says, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10 NIV) This gives everyone some hope.

Writing to the believers in Rome in the first century AD, the Apostle Paul says, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23. KJV).

By obeying the commandments of Christ as given in the Gospels, we can have the hope of everlasting life in the kingdom which Jesus will establish when he returns to the earth.

A human “leopard” can “change his spots” if he wishes to do so.


For the love of money is the root of all evil

This is an expression we hear quite often ….. and it comes from the Bible, and you can find the words in Paul’s, (that’s Paul the Apostle’s), First letter to Timothy in the New Testament. In chapter 6 and verse 10, it says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil”.

It’s quite often misquoted as, “Money is the root of all evil”. Now it doesn’t say that, it says the love of money is the problem ….. it isn’t the fact of being rich.

If we look at the surrounding verses we’ll be able to see what this means.

We really need to go back to verse 6 to understand what is being said, and that verse says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain“. (This actually refers back to verses 3 to 5 but verse 6 will suffice). Godliness goes hand-in-hand with contentment. Contentment will come to us in the form of not worrying about the future. As the next verse says, verse 7, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out”.

Go to the Gospel by Luke and chapter 12, and read verses 15 to 21 about a rich landowner who had so much grain or whatever, that he had to pull down his storage barns and build bigger, so he could hoard all his wealth. He loved the fact that he was rich but it did him no good. ‘Loving money’ rather than ‘having money’ is the problem. It’s a form of covetousness … a bit of an ‘oldie’ word nowadays but it means wanting something others have - and very often it’s ‘money’ that’s wanted - and that can easily lead to ‘a love of money’.

Now back to the First letter to Timothy chapter 6 verse 8 which tells us to be content with what we have, (referring back to verse 6), so long as we have food and clothing. We should be even more content if we consider the many who don’t even have these things in any amount. We shouldn’t always be looking over the fence at what others have.

Verse 9 of that same chapter, quoting from the New International Version, reads like this, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction”, which brings us back to, “the love of money”.

The verses then that follow put into place something that is much better than covetousness, much better than love of money. “Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness”. (That’s from verse 11).

To finish, just read verse 17 of this chapter, (from the New International Version), “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment”.


No New Thing Under the Sun

The phrase “there is no new thing under the sun” is used to indicate that any new thing that is invented, or any new idea that is suggested, can find its background in previous inventions or ideas. But there are many inventions and ideas today that appear genuinely new so what does it mean?

The phrase comes from a verse in the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes (Ecc 1:9), which was written by King Solomon, the son of David. The book of Ecclesiastes is basically about the futility that the writer sees in a life without God. And he uses the phrase “under the sun” 27 times in the book to refer to life and events without God. In Ecc 1:2 he says that “all is vanity” (AV) or “meaningless” (NIV). In v3 he asks what profit (gain) does a man get from his work, v.4 generations come and go but the earth – which is God’s creation – remains. And so v9 (NIV) says “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again: there is nothing new under the sun”. Life without God will continue as before and remain empty, futile, meaningless.

All the examples to show the futility of life without God came from Solomon’s own experiences! He was not looking 3,000 years ahead to the complexities of the world we have today. We have huge advances in medicine that were not dreamed of years ago and we have technological advances that would dwarf the way things were once done. And yet it is true that many of these things have their roots in the inventions of previous ages and in that way we can understand the phrase “there is no new thing under the sun”.

Also some ideas do not change. Take for example a quote from Cicero in 55BC

“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”

Much of that seems to reflect the ideas of the current Government!

There is “no new thing under the sun”! Some ideas and concepts remain as they always were. We can improve on them, but the basis of many inventions and ideas is in the past. And the principal idea that Solomon is expounding, that life without God is futile, also remains the same and does not change whatever thinking man has about the need for religion today.

We have the Biblical example of King Solomon who had wisdom, money and pleasures beyond measure and yet he could say it was all meaningless if God was ignored. And he concludes the book of Ecclesiastes “Let us hear the conclusion of the matter, Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man”.


Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die

This phrase comes from the combination of three passages of Scripture. In Ecclesiastes 8:15 the writer says “a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry”. The book of Ecclesiastes is basically about the futility that the writer sees in a life without God and so he is saying here that if you are going to ignore God then you might just as well enjoy yourself in the pleasures of life.

In Isaiah 22:13, speaking of a time when Jerusalem faced invasion by the enemy, the prophet says “let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die”. There is no merry-making here for the people literally faced death from the enemy and so they were exhorted to ‘eat and drink’ as it would be their last meal.

And the Lord Jesus in Luke 12:19 uses the words from Ecclesiastes to illustrate the foolishness of a man who spends his life getting more and more wealth for himself and ignores God. The man says to himself that he has run out of room to store all the proceeds of his harvest so he will build even bigger barns to store his wealth and then he can “take his ease, eat, drink, and be merry”. But he has ignored God in his life and just concentrated on satisfying his own greed. And the next verse, 20, says “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee (i.e. you will die), then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” illustrating the foolishness of ignoring God.

The phrase “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” is generally used in jocular fashion today – indeed there is a version which says “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we diet” – but there is a serious message. If we concentrate on personal gain, greed and pleasures – and ignore God – then life is empty and without meaning. In the rest of Luke 12 the Lord Jesus then exhorts the people to trust in God and concludes “seek ye the Kingdom of God” – and so should we!