The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.
Does your wisdom make your gray hair a complement, an insult, or a crown? If you have wisdom to match your gray hair, then they complement each other. If you have more gray hair than wisdom, your hair is visible evidence you are a fool. If you have more wisdom than gray hair, your white hair is a crown of glory, for it declares a godly life lived well.
“Respect your elders” is a common expression for an important Bible commandment. You are to show special honor to those who are old. The great God wrote it this way, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD” (Lev 19:32). You should respect those with gray hair.
A hoary head is gray or white hair, where age has replaced the hair color of youth with gray or white (Is 46:4). Hoary in the Bible is anything white or gray (Job 38:29; 41:32). And such hair color on old men is considered a beautiful thing. “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head” (Pr 20:29).
Both old men and women are to be respected. This is God’s ordinance. An ungodly and wicked generation, like the present one, despises old people (Is 3:5; Lam 5:12). Though age will reduce a mother’s abilities, she is still to be honored (Pr 23:22). Even the New Testament commands that older men and women should be respected (I Tim 5:1-2).
Gray or white hair on an old person should be a badge of honor – a crown of glory! It is a change that God ordained in hair color to indicate age, maturity, and experience. Age should mean greater wisdom, holiness, love of Christ, and godly example. But this is not always the case, so wise Solomon limited the proverb to those who have these virtues.
Elihu deferred to Job and his three friends, for they were older than he was. But they did not speak wisely, so he eventually rebuked them with his opinion (Job 32:1-14). And he concluded that older men are not always wise or sound in judgment. Their hoary heads were not in the way of righteousness after 29 chapters of foolish reasoning (Job 3-31).
Solomon compared an old, rich king who is foolish to a young, poor child who is wise (Eccl 4:13). And he concluded the wise child is better than the foolish old man. But his own foolish son was far worse for rejecting the advice of wise old men (I Kgs 12:6-16). Age ought to bring experience and then wisdom, but old fools prove to be the exceptions.
All old men have lived long, but have they used time for noble purposes. They should know more truth, exercise more wisdom, practice more holiness, and be more spiritually minded. After all, they are closer to heaven and have had more time for perfection. Consider that a church may only support widows who lived this proverb (I Tim 5:3-16).
Rejoice in the honor given to Jacob, Samuel, Elisha, and Jehoiada (Gen 47:1-12; I Sam 25:1; II Kgs 13:14; II Chron 24:15-16). These men lived in the way of righteousness. They had used the many years of their lives to grow in wisdom and godliness. Old age and their gray heads were badges of honor for men that had lived wisely for many years.
Old men should be teachers (Heb 5:12-14). They should be examples of sobriety, gravity, temperance, faith, charity, and patience (Tit 2:1-2). Many years of life is no blessing, if lived in sin, for such a man is under God’s curse (Is 65:20). There is no sight more pitiful than an old man nearing death, who has nothing to show of spiritual value for his years.
Dear old man, have you earned the glory belonging to your age? Are you an example to all? Are you the glory of your children and grandchildren (Pr 17:6)? Are you a pillar in the temple of your God (Ps 92:12-15)? There is no time like the present to seek these goals. You should use your remaining years to diligently pursue and practice wisdom.
Can you name a more glorious old couple than Zacharias and Elisabeth (Luke 1:5-7)? They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. They wore glorious silver crowns of time-honored hair. What did God do for them? He gave them John the Baptist, the greatest man born of a woman.
Simeon was an old man, whose ambition was to see the Christ rather than make a million (Luke 2:25-35). The old widow Anna gave herself to the Lord in holy and sober worship (Luke 2:36-38). Paul, near death, did not count his assets but rather described his faithful life (II Tim 4:6-8). His aged head had been in the way of righteousness (Philemon 1:9).
Every father should prepare now to be a great father by training his children in the fear of the Lord (Eph 6:4; Ps 71:18; 78:1-8; Joel 1:2-3). Every child and grandchild is an opportunity for you to build your family tree in the kingdom of God. And they will honor your gray head as a crown of glory for the investment in their souls, if they are the godly and virtuous grandchildren they will be with proper training (Pr 17:6).
Jesus Christ in His glorified appearance has head and hairs white like wool, as white as snow (Rev 1:14). He loved righteousness and hated wickedness like no other – for a life of perfect conduct (Ps 45:6-7; Heb 1:8-9). His hair is definitely a crown of glory to Him. He is the Ancient of Days and Everlasting Father, though absolutely ageless (Rev 1:18).