pondering the “pith” of the pithy

ever wonder about expressions we use such as “cute as a button”?   okay, babies are cute, and puppy dogs are cute and kittens and  . . .  but buttons?  really?  (I guess it depends on the button)

then there’s “neat as a pin”  –  are pins that neat?  really?  not if they’re spilled all over the floor they’re not  . . .

and what about “sharp as a tack”?  okay, that one I get, tacks actually are sharp!

but “clean as a whistle”?   I don’t think so, you put whistles in your mouth, so no, I am not buying this one

now “cool as a cucumber” has possibilities if you keep your cucumbers in the refrigerator but as vegetables go, I doubt that cucumbers are considered the cool ones among their vegetable peers  . . .

then there’s “smart as a whip”?   what’s that all about?   whips aren’t smart . . . are they?    I’ve never had a conversation with one but  . . .

now “slow as molasses”,  there’s one that makes sense – no explanation is needed

“pretty as a picture” is no mystery,  probably depends on the perspective of the person making the comparison – but what they consider to be pretty will be the same for both people and pictures  . . .

“mad as a wet hen”?   are hens any angrier when they get wet than other animals such as cows or pigs or squirrels or rabbits or bears or birds are when they get wet?  I think not  . . .   they are just more dramatic in expressing their outrage at being wet, thus exposing themselves as being the divas that they are among their animal peers . . .

“dumb as a rock”?  are rocks getting a bad rap here?  are stereotyping and profiling at work?  I bet geologists would beg to differ with this unflattering comparison; rocks, silent though they are, are wonderful storytellers.  They have remarkable stories to tell us when we take the time to look at them closely, to listen to them intently and to learn from them their hidden secrets – secrets kept for oh so long – a record of ages past, now revealed to those who would crack the code –  rocks are the secret keepers of our earth and of us all, not to mention that they are beautiful in their own right – each unique in color, form, composition and so on . . .

rocks may be the strong, silent type but they are not dumb by any means.  they actually have enough sense to cry out in praise of their Creator, even when we human beings do not.  In Luke 19:40, Jesus told the Pharisees who were attempting to quiet the crowds of people crying out to Him, “If they keep quiet, the stones along the road will burst into cheers!” (so rocks are neither mute nor dumb – another myth busted)

“busy as a bee”?   well, I guess bees are pretty busy, they always seem to be working, making all that honey and doing the hard work of cross pollination and such, but they still seem to find a way to take time out of their busy schedules, time off from their work if you will, to sting human beings – so how busy could they be, really?

“strong as an ox”?  yes, this is one that makes perfect sense with no explanation needed, oxen are indeed very strong!

“snug as a bug in a rug”,  well being snug sounds good to me, especially with this winter weather we’re having but  . . .  in a “rug”?  I don’t think so.  Isn’t rug just another name for carpet?  and carpets get walked on!  that’s what they are made for – so, how can bugs relax and get comfy with people and pets walking all over them?  they can’t!  They must be constantly on the move trying to avoid being crushed to death – they are literally running for their lives – so I personally don’t think bugs in rugs are snug at all.  and I don’t want bugs in my rugs or anywhere else indoors for that matter.  so where does a bug go to get snug?  well, that’s a matter I’ll leave to the scientists who study and catalog them . . .

what about “happy as a clam”?  are clams happy?  as anyone ever bothered to ask them?  have there been surveys and scientific studies?  are they happier than say, other molluscs?  are they happier than oysters? who really knows – so why do we hold clams up as the epitome of happiness?  is it a marketing conspiracy?  have we been duped?  maybe it’s time to go digging, clam digging that is, time to dig up some dirt on clams and their outrageous claims of cornering the market on happiness  . . .  why should they have all the fun?

I guess I want to be some of these things – happy, busy, smart, pretty as long as I don’t have to be a clam or a bee or a whip – well, you get the idea – but what do I really want to be like?

then I found these words, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.”  why is this so?  because  “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.”   (Psalm 1:1-3)

I guess I want to be like a tree, but not just any tree.  I want to be like the trees described in Psalm 92:12-13, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.’ ”

Yes, that’s it – to be fresh and green and flourishing, growing and productive, that’s what my Heavenly Father wants me to be – in His service, growing strong in His courts  . . .

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”   (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

“The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that He planted.  There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees.”  (Psalm 104:16-17)

that’s what I want to be, a tree in God’s court, planted by Him for His purposes, a tree under His care.

“I will be like  the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily.  Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow.  His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.  Men will dwell again in his shade.  He will flourish like the grain.  Hi will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.   . . . I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from Me.”   (Hosea 14:5-8)

sincerely,      Grace Day











2 thoughts on “pondering the “pith” of the pithy

  1. Okay, I do believe I bought my sister a book about the meanings of all sorts of weird sayings…you should look for it, it explains so many things!


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