A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
You affect your health by more than diet, nutrition, exercise, exposure, and sleep. You affect it by your attitude and spirit. A happy and cheerful spirit will improve your health, but a wounded and negative spirit can ruin it. How is your attitude today? Do yourself a favor! Consider the wisdom here and choose to be cheerful in the Lord! Do it now!
The proverb’s simile, “like a medicine,” and synecdoche, “drieth the bones,” should not be perverted to ridicule antibiotics or explain the cause of leukemia. They are figures of speech teaching the general health and value of a happy outlook and attitude toward life. There is a great lesson here, but the proverb is not teaching a panacea for all sickness.
Recent medical studies confirm this fact taught by Solomon 3000 years ago. Those who laugh and enjoy life will live longer. There is now a whole category of sicknesses and body maladies called psychosomatic (psycho = mind; somatic = body) illnesses, where the mind can cause physical problems in your body. Give God the glory for this proverb.
A merry heart or broken spirit is a choice! They are not results of Fate, temperament, genetics, or health. And they are not the result of circumstances, for a cheerful person can choose to be happy in horrible difficulties, and a morose person can ruin a wonderful event. You can have a continual feast through life, if you have a joyful heart; but a person with a negative attitude can find something wrong with every day (Pr 15:15). Consider it.
Christian joy is a command (Phil 4:4; I Thess 5:16), but the laughter of fools is sin (Eph 5:4; Eccl 7:6). Folly is no medicine; jesting is no balm. Both are perverse and destructive. Solomon called them madness (Eccl 2:2; 10:13). The proverb is not teaching a foolish or naïve approach to life. It promises natural blessings for joy, which is both a spiritual fruit and a commandment; and it condemns a negative, critical, or unthankful heart.
Sin destroys a merry heart, for a child of God cannot be happy out of fellowship with His Father. David often described a broken spirit caused by sin (Ps 6:1-6; 38:1-11; 51:8-11). It dried him up, broke his bones, and miserably tormented him from the inside out. He spent his time crying and grieving, rather than rejoicing and living. So the simple first step to a merry heart and good health is to live a holy, blameless life happy in the Lord.
Discontentment will ruin health, for all you can think about is what you do not have, even when you have much. Ahab’s life was ruined because he could not have Naboth’s vineyard (I Kgs 21:1-4), and Amnon fell sick out of lust for his sister (II Sam 13:1-4). No wonder the Holy Spirit teaches true success is godliness with contentment (I Tim 6:6).
If you allow envy, bitterness, lust, resentment, or anger in your life, you are begging for the judgment of God and serious health problems. These wicked thoughts will pursue you day and night; they will not let you even sleep in peace. If you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you, and you will dry up your health by such an evil, wicked disposition.
But if you are joyful, loving, thankful, peaceful, forgiving, and full of praise, you will find the blessing of God and a therapeutic balm for your body. If you make the Lord the joy of your life, you will have a constant reason to be merry, regardless of circumstances. Your nights will be peaceful and pleasant, because your heart, soul, and mind are relaxed.
Reader, the Preacher tells you to enjoy life today (Eccl 9:7-10). Will you heed His inspired advice, or will you let sinful attitudes and thoughts corrupt your soul and body? It is your choice, for contentment and joy are choices. Circumstances are not the issue, for you can be happy anywhere. But the consequences of your choice will be only yours!
The Lord Jesus came to bind up the broken-hearted (Is 61:1-3). What more must He do to bring joy to your heart, a bounce to your step, a glow to your face, and health to your bones? He is a glorious Saviour and Friend, and those who know Him are forever happy. The grace of God in Christ Jesus is an unspeakable gift and unsearchable riches. Rejoice!
There is nothing more refreshing and healthful than to examine yourself, confess your sins in private prayer, and then offer Him the sacrifices of praise and singing, either alone or in the assembly. David had learned this well (Ps 32:11; 68:3; Hab 3:17-19). You will never dance with all your might until you learn these things. Take your medicine, reader!