Proverbs 16:31

The Hoary Head

31a The hoary head is a crown of glory…

A. The Hoary Head

1. Hoary head:

a. Strong’s: age; gray hair.

b. Dict. of Bib. Lang.: a state or condition of having a gray or white head of hair, with the associated meanings of wisdom, weakness, or old age that is nearer to death.

c. It is translated as: gray hair; gray head; hoary head; old age.

2. Solomon uses the term (as it is often used) as a figurative way of describing: old age… not simply to the color of one’s hair.

a. Remember that these are proverbs.

b. They do not cover every possible situation… but are generalizations of truth.

c. While everyone ages over time, NOT everyone goes gray…

d. Some people go gray and even white in their 20’s.

e. Solomon is referring to the color of one’s hair as an outward, visible sign of age…– not just the color of one’s hair.

f. And gray hair, a visible sign of old age, seen on top of a person’s head is then likened to a “crown.”

B. A Crown of Glory

1. Crown of glory: the figure defined:

a. Crown: diadem or wreath; adornment worn on the head often as a symbol of power, authority, rulership or high status.

b. Prov. 12:4 – a virtuous wife is a crown to her husband. Referring to her as a crown means that she is something that he GLORIES in!

c. A crown also was used of a reward for service… something to glory in! (This usage is found more in the New Testament.)

d. In the Old Testament, the emphasis of the figurative use of a crown was primarily something prized… gloried in… and a symbol of high status and honor… like royalty!

e. Isa. 28:5 – God Himself is the CROWN for His people. A man’s association with God is a crown of glory on his head… a wreath or diadem of beauty.
• For the Christian to be associated with God as one of His people… is a great honor and a high privilege!
• It is a HIGH STATUS to belong to Him… it is a high calling… a glorious position for us!
• I John 3:1 – Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!
• For Israel, this honor and high privilege was symbolized as a CROWN.
• It is in this sense that Solomon used the figure.

• This is not the term for glory used most often in the Old Testament. It has a slightly different emphasis.
• It means: beauty, splendor, honor, —the state or quality of giving high attribution or status to someone.
• It doubly fortifies the meaning of the phrase: BOTH crown and glory refer to high honor and status

2. The HONOR associated with a hoary head in the Bible:

a. Prov. 4:7-9 – Gray hair implies wisdom…
• Wisdom is valued! It is the principle—the first and most important thing!
• Solomon is telling his YOUNG son that this is what he should be striving for over the years…
• It comes little by little over time…
• And it is a crown of glory!
• And by the time your hair is gray and you are old, you should have accumulated MUCH of it!
• That hoary head ought to be a symbol of high honor and status… because associated with age is WISDOM!
• Job 12:12 – With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.
» Job expresses shock that his 3 aged friends did not seem to have wisdom… when it was the norm!

b. Prov. 20:29 – old age is something to GLORY in.
• As young men glory in their strength (same term for glory as in 16:31) old men ought to glory in their hoary head (same term).
• Young men like to wear those muscle T-shirts to show off their strength. They are proud of their strength. (That is often vanity… but that’s another story.)
• The point is that young men DO glory in their strength. They are not ashamed of it… but glory in it.
• They don’t try to hide it. They often like to show it off.
• Over time physical strength diminishes naturally… and is replaced with a strength that is much more valuable.
• As age progresses and physical strength diminishes, men normally become strong in maturity, wisdom, experience, discernment…
• That is what older men and women should glory in! That’s their glory!
• It should not be gloried in in a vain or showy manner.
• But it SHOULD be something that is highly esteemed… valued… prized… respected… honored…

c. Gray hair implies wisdom… maturity… experience… discernment… grace…
• These are considered worthy of glory. (Not hair color.)
• We should glory in age for these reasons.

3. God honors age… (Not surprisingly: One of His names is the Ancient of Days!)

a. Ps. 92:14 – they shall still bring forth fruit in old age.
• Valuable service to God does not end when a person retires.
• There can and should be FRUIT in that life… that continues.

b. Titus 2:2-5 – older, more mature believers are valuable! They are to teach the younger…

c. Those God chose to lead the church were to be ELDERS… not novices… mature ones…

4. Lev. 19:32 – Rise up in honor and respect before the hoary head… and it is the ANCIENT of Days who has given us this command!

a. Age should be honored… exalted… respected… by us as believers.

b. Rev. 1:14 – Interestingly, Christ, in His exalted, glorified human body appears NOT as a 25 year old—in the prime of His physical strength… but as a man with WHITE hair!

5. Our culture glories in youth.

a. When gray hairs begin to show, people panic and cover it up with dye.

b. We spend billions and billions of dollars to avoid looking old.

c. Women dye their hair, wrinkle removers, face-lifts, tummy tucks, etc…

d. Even men are starting to do some of these things… to look young.

e. It is almost as if we considered looking old to be equivalent to the plague!

f. Here is a sad commentary on our culture:
• The Bible exalts old age. It says that gray hair and other visible signs of aging are things we should glory in.
• Yet our culture says that it is something we should dread like the plague!

g. This is not the case in other cultures around the world. Most other cultures show more respect for age than we do.
• And whether those cultures are Buddhist, Islam, Hindu, or completely secular… on this point, they are right and we are wrong.
• And that IS a sad commentary, when cultures influenced more by such paganism are closer to the Biblical norm than America—supposedly influenced by Biblical Christianity!
• Times have changed in our land…
• Isa. 3:5 – it is a sign of a decadent society when age and positions of honor worthy of respect are NOT given respect!

6. We should take warning from this.

a. We are hearing a lot today about CULTURE… and it is often given as an excuse to bring about radical changes in the way we do things as Christians.
• “It’s ok for me to do this. It is a “cultural thing.”
• Well certainly there are many cultural issues that are completely without any real relevance to truth or morality.
• However, there are SOME cultural issues that are blatantly CONTRARY to Scripture.
• This is one example where our culture is WRONG.
• It may be in harmony with our culture to NOT show respect to the elderly… but scripturally it is DEAD WRONG!
• Just because a practice has been accepted by a culture, that does not make it right.
• If it is contrary to the Bible, it is NOT right.
• The Christian is to live out of harmony with his culture on that point. We walk to the beat of a different drummer.
• And to the degree that we DO that—we are a testimony before the world… a light in darkness.
• This is an area where we as parents need to TRAIN children in God’s Word.

b. Isa. 3:4 – Children in positions of leadership is a sign of divine judgment.
• Babes in positions of authority is an awful form of judgment!
• The meaning of course is that instead of older, mature, wise leadership, they would have youthful inexperience and folly at the helm!
• That is NEVER a good idea… and it is not a good idea in the churches today either!
• Where do you think this new wave music and new forms of worship came from that seem to be taking over the churches across the country?
» From the older, wise, more mature believers who have grown in grace and in the knowledge of Christ… and are thus discerning enough to tell the difference between holy and unholy…
» OR from the youth… inexperienced in life and inexperienced in the Christian life… babes… and often worldly and carnal… lacking discernment and good judgment?
• Putting the youth in charge is not a way to be “relevant.” It is pure folly… and there will be a price to pay down the road.
• Our culture glories in youth… and eventually, it will come back to bite us.
• In contrast to our culture, the Bible says that age is a CROWN of glory!

31b If it be found in the way of righteousness.

1. Unfortunately, age does not ALWAYS bring wisdom and maturity.

a. It is the NORM, but there are many sad exceptions.

b. There are lots of 60-year-old teenagers who never grew up… and are still as foolish as they were in their youth.

c. Ecc. 4:13 – Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king. Some kings were quite childish, selfish, and foolish.

2. But when found in the way of righteousness age is a crown of glory.

a. When that is not the case, that hoary head is a crown of shame.

b. May God help us to grow in wisdom and not folly… grace and not disgrace.