Proverbs 20:29

Old Men and Young

Introduction:

1. In this proverb, Solomon is really making one point.

2. He is a great observer of human nature and behavior.

3. He noticed a universal principle here concerning the difference between young men and old men.

The glory of young men is their strength:

1. In any occupation, it is normally the young men who do the “grunt” work.

a. Military

b. Construction

c. City Workers

d. Police

2. The strength of young men is a valuable asset.

a. It can be used to the glory of God.

b. It can be used for the benefit of the local community.

c. It can be used in the service of one’s country.

d. I John 2:14 – Young men can be strong in the Lord and strong in His Word.
• There are various levels of maturity among believers. (fathers, young men, children)
• Young believers are to be strong in the spiritual realm… experiencing victory over the devil through the Word of God.
• That kind of spiritual strength and vitality is exceptionally valuable!

3. Of course a young man’s strength is only a valuable asset when it is used for good. It can also be used for evil.

a. Jer. 9:23 – some young men GLORY in their strength.
• They become vain.
• They are overly concerned about their appearance—wearing the muscle shirts, etc.
• This is sinful pride. There is nothing good about pride.
• Youth delights in its prowess.
• One who glories in physical strength demonstrates a wrong emphasis… and does not value true, spiritual strength.
• If anything, we should glory in our physical weakness, that God’s power might be manifested in us.
• Glorying in physical strength causes a man to feel self sufficient… and to lean on his own might to solve problems.
• Brute strength isn’t always the best way to resolve problems.

b. A young man’s strength can also be used for evil when you listen to what some of the strong young men in our state prisons have done. (Some used their strength in muggings, in robberies; in murders, etc.)

c. Strength is good—but only IF it is used in a right way.

d. When used in a right way, strength is the glory of young men.

e. There is great value to it.

f. Solomon also lets us know that there is great value in the gray head of older men too!

And the beauty of old men is the gray head.

1. Gray head

a. Solomon is not saying that the glory of old men is their hair color.

b. I take this to be figurative language here. (Remember, this is a poetic book.)

c. Solomon is using hair color (gray—or white—or bald) as a symbol of old age… and in particular the WISDOM that normally accompanies old age.

d. Gray hair, a visible sign of old age, seen on top of a person’s head is likened to a “crown” in chapter 16. (This too is a figure of speech.)

e. His point is not that “gray hair is beautiful!”
• It would be pretty shallow and vain, if that’s all he had in mind. (He is not making a fashion statement: That men look good in gray hair.)

f. His point is that WISDOM is beautiful… or perhaps EXPERIENCE is beautiful.

2. Wisdom is normally expected of old men.

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 wisdom… just like you accumulate grays hairs—a little bit at a time.
• 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!
» The NORM is that wisdom and age should go together.

3. Old men with gray hair are not ALWAYS wise.

a. Prov. 16:31 – Gray hair is a crown of glory.
• A crown also was used as a figure of a reward for service… something to glory in!
» This usage is found more in the New Testament for Christian service.
» Gray hair is a crown upon a man’s head in that it represents years of learning and experience.
» It represents the fact that this man has been graduated from the school of hard knocks.
» This man has earned a degree based on his life experience from one of the most difficult schools of higher learning: life itself!
» The crown is his reward… his degree…
• In the Old Testament, the figure of a crown was also used to represent something prized…
» It represented that which was gloried in… as a symbol of high status and honor.
» A king gloried in his crown as a symbol of high status and royalty.
» Old men value their experience and wisdom.

b. Here Solomon “limits” that symbol to only when the gray hair is found in the way of righteousness.
• Obviously, there are plenty of older men who are NOT wise. Some are fools.
• But in general, gray hair is a crown.
• Wisdom doesn’t always come with old age. Fools are not limited to the young.
• Too often young foolish boys grow up to become old, foolish men with gray hair.
• A plant that is bent when it is young is likely to grow up with that bend still visible. (Climb a mountain and look at some of the older bent trees. They grew up crooked and never changed.)

c. But again, these are proverbs: generally speaking, older men with gray hair are wiser and more experienced than strong young men… but there is no guarantee.

d.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.

Each Stage of Life Has Its Advantages

1. Solomon simply states some facts.

a. His statement really isn’t comparative. This proverb doesn’t even say that one is better than the other.

b. The point of this proverb is just to note that BOTH stages of life have their distinct advantages.

c. Ecc. 3:1-2a – To every thing there is a season.

d. Solomon recognizes here the seasons of life.

e. There is a season to be young, strong, healthy, and vibrant.

f. There is a season to be old, mature, experienced, and wise.

2. Young men are strong…

a. Prov. 1:1-4 – The book is written to give wisdom to young men.

b. Although Solomon does not make a value judgment in 20:29, he does imply throughout the book the relative value of wisdom OVER youth and strength.

c. Prov. 2:1-4 – Here Solomon tells young men that they should USE their youth and strength to pursue WISDOM.
• A strong, young life dedicated to pursuing wisdom surely will FIND it.
• That is the young person who will surely become a wise old man with gray hair.
• When the strength of one’s youth is dedicated to the things of the Lord, one’s gray hair will surely be accompanied by wisdom.

d. Prov. 23:19-22 – Too often young men WASTE their youth and strength! Unfortunately, they too often turn an asset into a liability.

e. I Tim. 4:12 – Young men are exhorted to use their youth and strength to be an EXAMPLE. That young person is on his way to gaining rich experience… and wisdom too.

3. But old men are wise.

a. Old men with gray hair are to be honored and valued.

b. Lev. 19:32 – Honoring the aged is a way of honoring the Lord.
• Our culture glories in youth and strength, but does not seem to value age and the wisdom that comes with age and experience.
• The Bible seems to lay the emphasis on the value of age, experience, and wisdom OVER youth and inexperience.
• And this is not intended to be a political statement…

c. Ps. 92:12-14 – Wise aged men
and women still bring forth fruit in old age.
• 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, experienced, discernment…
• That is what older men and women should glory in! That’s their glory!
• It should not be gloried in a vain or showy manner.
• But it SHOULD be something that is highly esteemed… valued… prized… respected… honored…

4. Actually BOTH are essential – The strength of youth and the wisdom of old age.

a. The country needs the strength young men
• They fight our wars
• They build our cities
• They work our factories

b. The country also needs the wisdom of old men
• They plan for war
• They are the architects and designers of our cities
• They are the owners and managers of our factories

c. The local church needs the strength of the young men and young women
• They work with the kids programs…
• They add energy and vitality…

d. The local church needs the maturity and wisdom of the elder men and women.
• To serve as officers…
• To set the course of the assembly…
• To teach the Word in depth…