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 than wisdom, your hair is visible evidence you are a fool. If you have more wisdom than gray, your white hair is a crown of glory, for it declares a godly life lived very 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 said 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).
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 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 may reduce a mother's abilities, she is still to be honored (Pr 23:22). Even the New Testament commands that older men and women 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! Age should mean greater wisdom, holiness, love of Christ, and godly example. But this is not always the case, so the Preacher limited the proverb to those who have these things.
Elihu deferred to Job and his three friends, for they were older than he was. But they did not speak wisely, so he eventually silenced 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 for 29 chapters of foolish reasoning (Job 3-31)!
Solomon compared an old, rich king who is foolish with 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 worse for rejecting the advice of wise old men (I Kgs 12:6-16).
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.
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!
Can we 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! What glorious silver crowns they wore of time-honored hair!
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 one of the great fathers in Israel 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!
The Lord Jesus Christ in His glorified appearance has head and hairs white like wool, as white as snow (Rev 1:14). It is definitely a crown of glory to Him, for He is the Ancient of Days and Everlasting Father, though He is absolutely ageless (Rev 1:18)!