22- Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Fifty common expressions that originated from the Bible that influences our language today.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry – While numerous sources have been quoted for originating this expression: from Shakespeare to pirates to the outlaws in the Old West; most linguistics trace it back to a combination of Bible verses. Originally, this idiom was made up of two separate statements: “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” and “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die.” However, by the 1880s, newspapers began merging the two expressions into one, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die.” Before looking at the Scriptures on which this saying is based, let’s consider how the phrase is used today.

Generally, this idiom is used to encourage someone to stop worrying and have a good time. It is often associated with the Latin phrase carpe diem, meaning to “seize the day.” The phrase is found in the writings of Horace and Omar Khayyam; the music of Dave Mathews (Tripping Billies) and even makes an appearance in the Book of Mormons.

  • Ecclesiastes 8:15 – “Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry…” This concept is expressed four times by Solomon, however we must remember that his viewpoint in “under the sun” or from an earthly viewpoint (Ecclesiastes 2:24; 5:18; 8:15; 9:7). Also, remember that such a viewpoint leads to “vanity” or emptiness (one of the key words of Ecclesiastes, occurring 37 times).
  • Luke 12:19 – “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” This statement is made by a rich man whose complete focus is on time instead of eternity. In the very next verse, “God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee” (Luke 12:20).
  • I Corinthians 15:32– “…let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Paul is saying if there is no resurrection, our faith is vain, nothing really matters.
  • Isaiah 22:13 – “…let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.” Jerusalem is about to experience God’s judgment. When our focus is on the temporal instead of the eternal, we will always get in trouble.

This does not mean that as Christians we do not enjoy life, Luke reminds us that Jesus “came eating and drinking” (Luke 7:34) and that when the prodigal son returned home, the father told his servants to “…bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry” (Luke 14:23).

Robert Moffatt reminds us that “We shall have all eternity in which to celebrate our victories, but we have only one swift hour before the sunset in which to win them.”


Posted in Influence

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