Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
Gray hair is a crown of glory. We think it is gained in a trying life. You kids are enough to give me gray hair! I didnt have gray hair until I took this job. We envy the man or woman able to enter middle age with no gray hairs. If Solomon is trying to lure us into living a righteous life with the promise of gray hair as our crown, he needs to hire a marketing firm. This will not fly. Would you like to turn your hair gray? Try living a righteous life.
This proverb comes out of a culture that honors old age. The law, in Leviticus 19:32, commanded respect: You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. In general, the older the person, the more respect he or she was given for possessing wisdom. The elders of Jewish society were the authorities and judges. Thus the term, which originally refers to age, took on the added meaning of leader. Proverb 20:29, which says, The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair, is not exalting a hair color but wisdom. Young men have strength; old men (and women) have wisdom.
Even so, the real focus is not wisdom but righteous living. It is being a righteous person, i.e. a person who is morally good, treats others justly, and is devoted to God. Long, productive life is often the reward for such persons, whose gray hair serves as evidence.
God rewards a good life with length of life. But also to the point is that living a righteous life avoids the pitfalls of the wicked and foolish life so that one is able to live out ones days. How many men and women have died young because of their foolish ways? Poor decisions about lifestyles, ways to pursue pleasure, were as Proverbs 16:25 says, seemed right at the time, but in truth were ways to death. Do you want to live to the age of gray hairs? Then focus not on how to live longer, but how to walk along the path of righteousness. God already has your days numbered. What matters is how you live those days to his glory.
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