Monday Morning Devotion-August 23, 2021
What in the Sam Hill?
*Reprint from, July 14, 2014
Kind words are like honey---sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:24
As a writer I take great delight in using the right word at the right time. I love exploring that word jungle out there and coming up with new words that I can use in writing or speaking. Even beyond that I enjoy playing with words. Taking them out of context and kidding or joking with them.
The Lovely Susette and I frequently do this in our conversations with each other. Not so much with others because they might think we are crazy. It's not just the words, but the phrases we like to twist around. Usually, because we know each other so well, we "get it" when the other one is using a playful turn of a phrase to kid around.
This word-warping has been greatly enhanced by the book I wrote called: "You Can't Become a Football Overnight." The book contains the malapropisms of former college coach the late, Bill Peterson.
For example, I might say, in a weak moment, "This week I'm going to weed the flower bed and don't you remember it." Or if I want to make the Coach Pete point that I am the one in charge of something and no one else is, I might say: "I'm the football around here and don't you forget it."
There are all kinds of ways to have fun with words when they are used in the proper way. Of course, there are many pitfalls in word play too. To a person not familiar with these games you might seem silly, disrespectful, or, uh, dumb. So, when being silly with words you must first be sure the person listening has a sense of humor.
There is one area in which I am at a disadvantage. That is in expressing anger about something I either don't understand or think is absurdly wrong. The reason for this being that I don't curse. Profanity is not in my wordy game bag. I guess I just came up thinking that way. Swearing a lot, I have always thought, can not only be hurtful to the person on the receiving or hearing end, but the one cursing as well.
It could make the hearer think the swearer is rude. Or has a limited vocabulary. Or is just a mean-spirited person.
My Dad wasn't a person with a super-large vocabulary. Pop was a kind-hearted man who wouldn't hurt a flea°well, maybe a flea but nothing bigger or human. When something would make him mad, and oh yes, he did have a temper°. you didn't want to get on his bad side°he would say, "What in the Sam Hill?"
I never, until this day knew what that meant. I do now°because I looked it up. Here's what Wikipedia says: "Sam Hill is an American English slang phrase, a euphemism or minced oath for "the devil" or "hell personified as in "What in the Sam Hill is that? It dates to the late 1830's. ...Sam Hill was a mercantile store owner who offered a vast and diverse inventory of goods. People began using this term to describe something they found odd or unusual, just like the inventory found in Sam Hill's store." By the way the original Sam Hill Mercantile building still stands on Montezuma Street in Prescott, Arizona
Ok so swearing is out for me. But don't be surprised if you get a "doggone it"; darn it; or as one of my all-time favorite people Coach Bobby Bowden always says: "dadgum it."
Truthfully, I don't think a "damn" or a "hell" thrown in is offensive. Both words are found in the Bible, in fact hell is in there 54 times. Still when expressing disappointment, hurt or anger there are probably better choices to make a point.
A better pursuit in wordplay would be to find words that can be used to encourage and build up. Words that express and stress positivity in life. Ones that instantly resonate in a positive way with the hearer.
In Proverbs we find encouragement to take this approach:
First, kind words are like honey. Can't think of anything bad about honey, can you? In fact, the positive attributes of honey have been lauded for many years. It is felt that honey helps reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease; may help disorders such as ulcers, is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and can even enhance athletic performance. So dispensing words that are received like honey is welcomed by the body and is a good thing. Certainly, there is no harm involved.
Proverbs 15:26: "The Lord despises the thoughts of the wicked, but he delights in pure words."
Kind words make our hearts happy--- Proverbs 17:22 "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength."
"Proverbs 24:13 "My child, eat honey for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste."
According to Jimmie Rodgers lyrics to the popular song of the late 50's--
"Well, it's a darn good life and it's kinda funny
How the Lord made the bee and the bee made honey
And the honeybee lookin' for a home, and they called it honeycomb.
He goes on to sing about the benefits of this process is the Lord made a woman sweet
as a honeycomb thus:
"What a darn good life when you got a wife like Honeycomb"
There really are no limits to encouraging words. They are very beneficial in many ways. While I think of myself as a great encourager, the Lovely Susette is one of the best I know. She always seems to be able to put a positive spin on things that would defeat me. That is a blessing. I think that's why so many people like her.
As the apostle Paul told us in Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk
come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to
their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
So, I encourage you to keep speaking words of encouragement to others and
whenever something makes you mad...I mean really mad° just give it a "What in the Sam
Hill? and start counting your blessings.
Monday Prayer: Thank you Lord for the benefits of honey as a food product and as words that encourage others. Amen
BTW: Happy Birthday to my Lovely Susette!