A Pinch of Salt: More Everyday Expressions from Scripture

A Pinch of Salt: More Everyday Expressions from Scripture (Available now, Christian Focus)

Publication date: July 2017

Try before you buy: Read a few pages from the book itself here.




  1. A friend in need is a friend indeed
  2. A heavy heart
  3. A house divided
  4. A pinch of salt
  5. A prophet is not without honour …
  6. A word in season
  7. An eye for an eye
  8. Another one bites the dust
  9. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger
  10. Flat on your face
  11. God willing
  12. Hiding your light under a bushel
  13. I wash my hands of the matter
  14. It takes all sorts
  15. It was not done in a corner
  16. Just an empty shibboleth
  17. Laughter is the best medicine
  18. Out of the mouth of babes
  19. Philistine!
  20. Pour out your heart
  21. Practise what you preach
  22. Pride goes before a fall
  23. You put the words into my mouth
  24. Root and branch
  25. Shake off the dust from your feet
  26. Sour grapes
  27. The blind leading the blind
  28. The land of the living
  29. There’s a time and a place for everything
  30. Touch wood
  31. Under a cloud
  32. What a godsend!
  33. You’ve kept the best until last



The response to my previous book A Little Bird Told Me: Everyday Expressions from Scripture has been—and continues to be—most encouraging. Copies have been read all over the English-speaking world. A common remark has been along the lines of, ‘You hear that expression all the time. I never knew that it came from the Bible.’

Unbeknown to many, expressions and sayings from the Bible have permeated our daily life in a profound way, and people are often amazed when it is pointed out that such sayings and expressions are actually biblical in origin. All this motivated me to research and write another compilation of ‘Everyday Sayings from Scripture’—where the expressions and sayings originated, and how they apply to us today.

You now have the fruits of my labours in your hands! My prayer is that you will find it both interesting and enlightening, and, with the Lord’s blessing, that it will give you a greater appreciation of the central message of the Bible, as encapsulated in its most famous verse: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16).


Timothy Cross





‘A friend in need is a friend indeed,’ goes a saying. The expression means that it takes a time of trouble to reveal just who our true friends really are. There is such a phenomenon as a ‘fair-weather friend’. These are our friends when all is well with us. But come a time of crisis—for example, unemployment, ill health, financial hardship etc—and a fair-weather friend is nowhere to be seen. A true friend though will stand by us during a time of trouble, and help and support us as best he or she can. Hence the saying: ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed.’

The saying ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’ is not found in the Bible verbatim, yet its sentiments are most definitely biblical, for in Proverbs 17:17 we read that ‘A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity’—which means the same as our saying. Then in Proverbs 18:24 we read, ‘A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’ If you have such a friend, you have good cause to get down on your knees and thank God for that person right now.

The problem is that our friends, being subject to human sinfulness and weakness, will always have the propensity to let us down—just as we are liable to let them down. The Lord Jesus, it is well known, chose twelve disciples ‘that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach’ (Mark 3:14). Of these twelve, one eventually betrayed Him, one disowned Him (denying he even knew Him), and, at the time of Jesus’ greatest need we read in Matthew 26:56 that ‘all the disciples forsook Him and fled.’

While the Bible extols and celebrates human friendship—for example, Hannah and Ruth, Jonathan and David, Paul and Timothy, Peter and John—the emphasis of Scripture is on nothing less than divine friendship—knowing the friendship of and fellowship with Almighty God Himself. In grace, He actually enters into friendship with sinful human beings, and commits Himself to them for their earthly and eternal welfare. ‘The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.’ (Psalm 25:14). And when we consider again these verses from Proverbs—that ‘A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity’ and that ‘there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’—we may surely understand that these refer to the friendship of Jesus.

All Christians know and enjoy the friendship of Christ, and all Scripture ultimately points us to Him who is the living Word and who makes Himself present in the written Word. Of the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus said that ‘these are they which testify of Me’ (John 5:39). And Scripture reveals that Jesus is a Friend indeed. We may let Him down, but He will never let us down.

Consider this in relation to both the cross of Christ and the companionship of Christ.


The Cross of Christ

Jesus said in John 15:13 that ‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.’ Then in 1 John 3:16 we read ‘By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.’ Every believer can testify that the friendship of Jesus was so great that He actually gave His life for our salvation. He died an atoning death. He gave Himself as a sinless sacrifice to atone for our sins. He was punished to procure our pardon, and He endured the wrath of God to turn the wrath of God away from us. The cross of Christ was the supreme demonstration of the extent of the love of Jesus for His friends. He laid down His life for us so that we might have eternal life—that we might be reconciled to God and know fellowship with Him for evermore.


The Companionship of Christ

‘A brother is born for adversity,’ says Proverbs. Our greatest need is for salvation. Jesus alone can meet us in our adversity here. And once we are saved, He continues to stand by us through all the ups and downs and losses and crosses of our earthly pilgrimage. The well-known hymn is absolutely right when it affirms ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus.’  He is truly ‘a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’ Good days and bad days, plenty and poverty, sickness and health, summer and winter, youth and old age … the promises of Jesus have been well tested and well proved by His people throughout the ages: ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you. Hence we can boldly say “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”’ (Hebrews 13:6).

The apostle Paul’s final letter was written from a Roman prison cell to my namesake, Timothy. Paul was facing imminent execution. Almost his final recorded words summarise what we have said in this chapter. They testify on the one hand to the unreliability of human friendship, but on the other hand to the total dependability of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wrote: ‘At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion’ (2 Timothy 4:16,17).

‘The Lord stood with me,’ said Paul. ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed.’ Jesus is a friend indeed. He gave His life to save us. He continues to stand by us. He never fails us. He never forsakes us.


One there is above all others

Well deserves the name of Friend

His is love beyond a brother’s

Costly, free and knows no end

They who once His kindness prove

Find it everlasting love


Which of all our friends to save us

Could or would have shed his blood?

Christ the Saviour died to have us

Reconciled in Him to God

This was boundless love indeed!

Jesus is a Friend in need


When He lived on earth abased

‘Friend of sinners’ was His name

Now above all glory raised

He rejoices in the same

Still He calls them brethren, friends

And to all their wants attends


Oh for grace our hearts to soften!

Teach us, Lord, at length to love

We alas! Forget too often

What a Friend we have above

But when home our souls are brought

We will love Thee as we ought


(John Newton, 1725 – 1807)



In Proverbs 25:20 we read, ‘He who sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on a wound Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, and like vinegar on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.’ The verse is a reminder to us that we should always be sensitive to others, for we might not know what inner burdens they are carrying. If we should behave in a wrong or inappropriate way towards them, we might make a bad situation worse. How we need to seek wisdom from the Lord, and ask Him to give us sensitivity and tact in our dealings with others.

It is from this verse, Proverbs 25:20, that we get the well-known expression ‘a heavy heart.’ Proverbs 12:25a is similar when it says ‘Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down’ (RSV). A ‘heavy heart’ cannot be measured on bathroom scales, yet if we are suffering with this condition, we know that it weighs us down in a manner no less real than if someone had placed an overloaded rucksack on our back. By using the term ‘heart’, we are referring to our inner being, and the experience of having something overwhelming on our minds, giving us tunnel vision, prohibiting us from thinking of much else but the matter which weighs us down.


The causes of a heavy heart

The causes of a heavy heart are manifold. At college we face the pressure of exams, the passing of which determines our future. Next we may know the anxiety of being unemployed—or in a job which we do not feel is quite suitable for us. Debt and money worries are responsible for many a heavy heart. Then there are the anxieties about our loved ones—maybe our children’s physical and spiritual wellbeing, or perhaps our elderly parents’ declining mental and physical powers. Many and varied circumstances, and our own sense of inadequacy to deal with them, can so easily degenerate into an overriding anxiety that is with us day and night. ‘Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down …’ If you are a stranger to the experience of ‘a heavy heart’, I suggest you should get down on your knees right now and thank God. He has been exceedingly merciful to you. Most of us are not so blessed.


The remedy for a heavy heart

We are told that a healthy, physical heart may be maintained by the right diet and regular exercise. But what is the remedy for a ‘heavy heart’—the more subtle, but exceedingly real, mental and spiritual malady we experience when something weighs so heavily on our mind? The Bible gives the answer—a remedy which is both simple and effective and has been well proved throughout the ages. Psalm 55:22 guides us in these words: ‘Cast your burden on the LORD and He shall sustain you.’ Peter takes up this verse in 1 Peter 5:7 when he writes that we are to be ‘casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for [us].’

As Christians, we have a God to whom we may turn when the burdens of this life weigh us down. We have a loving, heavenly Father. We have a sympathetic Saviour who knows all too well our human condition and what it is like to suffer. We are promised the help and strength of God’s Holy Spirit—known throughout the ages as the divine comforter, the ‘Parakletos’—the one called alongside to help.  So the good news is that we do not have to bear our burdens alone. The God of the Bible—the God revealed supremely in the Lord Jesus Christ—has promised to relieve us of our burdens. To understate it: He who sustains this vast universe is infinitely capable of bearing our burdens! If He does not see fit to take them from us, He will most surely strengthen us to bear them, for He has promised in these wonderful words that ‘[His] grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So, all Christians have the privilege of unburdening their burdens on Almighty God Himself. As the hymn writer expressed it, ‘Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer.’[1]

Jesus, our Saviour, bore our greatest burden at Calvary, for there He bore our sins and God’s judgement on them. ‘He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree’ (1 Peter 2:24). And Jesus still gives us the wonderful invitation to cast our burdens on Him, whatever they may be. Some of His most famous words were in the form of an invitation to those suffering from a heavy heart. They are found in Matthew 11:28: ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Jesus is the great Burden Bearer. He is the great reliever of all who come to Him suffering from a heavy heart.


Beautiful words of Jesus

Spoken so long ago

Yet as we sing them over

Dearer to us they grow

Calling the heavy laden

Calling to hearts oppressed

Come unto Me ye weary

Come, I will give you rest


Beautiful words of Jesus

Cheering us day by day

Throwing a gleam of sunshine

Over a cloudy way

Casting on Him the burden

We are too weak to bear

He will give grace sufficient

He will regard our prayer




Hear the call of His voice so sweet

Bring your load to the Saviour’s feet

Lean your heart on His loving breast

Come, O come, He will give you rest.


(Eliza E. Hewitt, 1851 – 1920)




[1] Quoted from the hymn by Joseph Scriven, What a Friend we have in Jesus