The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head.
Both young and old men have abilities, teaching the need for respecting and trusting each other and using those advantages for mutual profit. Young men should respect old men for their wisdom, shown by gray hair. Old men should respect the greater strength of young men, which is a good asset. Both should use their abilities for service to the other.
The glory of young men is their strength. A man can run the fastest, lift the most, or work the hardest between 18 and 34. He can do most anything, if he puts his mind to it. These are prime years of a man’s physical strength. He does not reach skeletal or muscular maturity until this period, and it begins a long and steady decline after this period.
A young man’s strength is a wonderful thing. High levels of both human growth hormone and testosterone turn most anything he eats into bone and muscle. His body responds immediately to physical training; he can recover quickly from strenuous physical activity, and he has a hormonal drive that makes him aggressive and confident in danger or labor.
A man’s strength declines after 34 until it is gone (Ec 12:1-7). The decline of the two chemicals after 19 is the physical cause. Men lose their ability to perform, and the driving desire to perform, in physical or sexual activity – the glory of youth leaves them. David needed a young woman to keep him warm, but she was as safe as could be (I Kgs 1:1-4)!
However, old men begin acquiring something in their 30’s that young men can hardly understand – wisdom. It is a combination of mental and emotional maturity, experience, and accumulated instruction. Though declining in strength and stamina, older men grow in knowledge and understanding until the very late years of life. They watch young men with amusement, for they have lost the foolishness, impatience, and ignorance of youth.
Society recognizes these differences by sending foolish young men with strength and vigor into battle, while wise older men direct the war and the matters of civil government. The Joint Chiefs of Staff of a military differ greatly in age from the soldiers in the field. Job said, “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding” (Job 12:12).
The lesson here is the respect due each age. Both ages of men are necessary for the profit and safety of a nation, church, or family. God early commanded honor for old men (Lev 19:32), and despising the infirmities of old age is wrong (Pr 23:22). Applying the rule to women, it is older women who are to teach younger women; though younger women are beautiful and fertile, they are inexperienced with husbands and children (Titus 2:3-5).
Therefore, young men (or women) should reverence the older ones for their wisdom, especially when in authority (Job 32:4-7; Eph 6:1-3). It is God’s judgment when the young rebel and oppress their elders (Job 30:1-12; Is 3:1-5). Paul told Timothy to treat older men with reverence and younger men with respect (I Tim 5:1; I Pet 5:5).
Old men should appreciate young men, who are capable of doing things they no longer can or will do. David had been a giant-killer in his youth, but a day came when he was thankful for young men to take over (II Sam 21:16-17). Faithful young men agreeable to your cause can be of great value in doing the things your mind can plan. Children of the youth, like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, are valuable assets (Ps 127:4). And old men should not despise qualified young men, whom God has put in office (I Tim 4:12).
But both ages of men must seek godliness more than anything else. Young men must avoid undue confidence and glory in their strength (Ps 33:16; Jer 9:23-24), for God takes no pleasure in the legs of a man (Ps 147:10). The young man must rule his spirit and flee the folly and hormonal lusts of youth (Ps 25:7; Eccl 11:9-10; II Tim 2:22; Tit 2:6), and he should diligently seek counsel from older men for his important decisions (Pr 20:5; 24:6).
Old men must be found in the way of righteousness for their gray heads to be crowns of honor to them (Pr 16:31). There is no virtue in age alone – a wise child is better than a foolish old man, even if he is king (Eccl 4:13). An old man still foolish with the imprudence of youth is a disgrace to his age and sex. And an old man who has not learned to be sober and spiritually minded is a disgrace to his religion (Titus 2:1-2).
Now apply the wisdom of this proverb to a local church of Jesus Christ, which should have fathers, men of spiritual age and wisdom, who have long known the Lord Jesus Christ. And it should have young men with great strength, spiritually ambitious with strong minds, who are filled with the Word of God (I John 2:13-14). Are you fulfilling your role? And do you appreciate and respect those in the other category of age?