A Drop in the Bucket

“Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.” -Isaiah 40:15

Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase many times before: “it’s just a drop in the bucket.” Yet you may not realize that it actually originated thousands of years ago in the Bible.

A Drop in the Bucket

©iStockphoto.com/GeofferyHolman
A Drop in the Bucket

It was originally used to describe the grandeur of God in comparison to all other things in this world. That’s way the prophet Isaiah (the one from whom this saying is taken) writes that the nations are as a drop of water in a bucket full of water; or they are as a speck of dust on a balance. Compared to God, they are nothing. He continues on and fleshes this idea out even further:

“All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” -Isaiah 40:17-18

And all this was written, not necessarily to belittle everyone on earth, but rather, that they should see the futility and weakness in making a man into a “god,” or serving and finding purpose in anything or anyone else besides God.

It is almost as if Isaiah is trying to tell the people, “do you know how small and insignificant all of the things of this world are? Why do you take so much pleasure in the passing trifles of this life, and do not consider the One who has made everything? Why do you trust in the things of the world to help you, and not in the very Creator of all things: He is the One who ought to be trusted in and adored. “

Despite my paraphrasing of Isaiah’s message, listen to his actual words in Scripture:

“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” -Isaiah 40:28-31

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