The Bible Does Not Say That.

“Thou shalt be a registered Republican.” — definitely not one of the Ten Commandments

Amy Colleen

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The Holy Bible is made up of 66 books, and… a lot of words. (Though translation counts differ, the 17th-century King James Version clocks in at an impressive 783,137 words.) Though this enormous amount of text contains many phrases and proverbs that have made their way into American vernacular, there are a few oft-quoted “Bible verses” that don’t actually appear anywhere in the Bible.

“The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

How often have you heard this phrase repeated after something unexpected or even miraculous happens? Would it surprise you to know it’s not actually a Bible verse?

Well, okay, it probably wouldn’t surprise you too much, since you’re reading this post and have a preconceived notion of what you’re about to learn, after all.

At any rate, the line was actually penned by the 18th-century poet William Cowper. It appears in his 1773 poem, “Light Shining Out Of Darkness.” The poem was later renamed after its first line, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” set to music, and is still sung in churches today. It draws on principles in Romans 11:33, Psalm 77, and Psalm 62, but the famous first line does not directly quote Scripture.

Though colloquial use has altered the words a little, the saying in the poem is as follows,

“God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.”

“Spare the rod and spoil the child.”

Though a similar injunction to discipline children (deriving from the rod used by shepherds to create a boundary line for sheep) can be found in the book of Proverbs, the actual saying “spare the rod and spoil the child” is not found in the Bible. This line is originally found in a satirical 1663 poem called “Hudibras” by Samuel Butler.

If matrimony and hanging go
By dest’ny, why not whipping too?
What med’cine else can cure the fits
Of lovers when they lose their wits?
Love is a boy by poets stil’d,
Then spare the rod, and spoil the child.

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Amy Colleen

I read a lot of books & sometimes I’m funny. I aspire to be a novelist, practice at humor & human interest writing, and am very fond of the Oxford comma.