I remember it well! I was sitting in a barber’s chair at the corner of Thirteen Mile Rd. and Ryan Rd. in Warren, Michigan, chatting with the barber while my youthful locks were trimmed. Draped in the black gown barbers use to cover their customers, I first noticed it—a gray hair! Not just any gray hair, my first gray hair! I was stunned; after all, I was 28 years old and only old people have gray hair! Incredulous, I asked the barber, “What is this?” Without a hint of mercy or understanding, the barber left me to wrestle with the rude awakening that youth was fleeting and old age was crowding its way into my hair and life!
Proverbs 16:31– “The hoary head [gray-headed; old age] is a crown of glory [beauty; achievement], if it be found [appear; acquired] in the way [path; journey] of righteousness [virtue; justice].”
The “hoary head” (literally, the head with gray hair) is a crown, a sign of a long life that ought to command respect from youth (Solomon states in another proverb “the beauty of old men is the gray head” – Proverbs 20:29). I recall with fondness many “hoary heads” I have loved and revered over the years. Men and women whose lives and life experiences were like a treasure trove of wisdom that I acquired by sitting and listening to their walk down memory lane. Their lives were a testimony of discipline, uprightness and godly wisdom. They had earned my admiration and I basked in the joy of their friendship and fellowship.
Notice, however, that Proverbs 16:31 is a conditional proverb for it states that gray heads command respect “if”— “if it be found in the way of righteousness” (16:31b). Herein is a warning for all “hoary heads”: Gray hairs and long life alone are not indicative of godly wisdom. It is the man or woman who has chosen to follow the “way of righteousness” whose life commands our respect.
Face it my friend, sooner or later gray hairs will push their way into your mane and, whether or not they are a sign of maturity, worry or foolish indiscretions is up to you to decide.
Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith