31Gray hair is a glorious crown
worn by those
who have lived right.
32Controlling your temper
is better than being a hero
who captures a city.
33We make our own decisions,
but the Lord alone
determines what happens.
Throughout the Book of Proverbs, Solomon contrasts actions that are right and those that are wrong. Actions that are right are portrayed as wise: actions that are wrong are portrayed as foolish.
In ancient societies people tended to defer to the decisions of the elders. All things being equal, gray hair – that is, old age – is evidence of wisdom, goodness and virtue. There are biblical examples of people for whom that was so, but just like today, it was not always true.
Some actions and attitudes are simply wrong, no matter who is involved: for example an elder who has not learned to control a fiery temper is not as reliable a role model as the youngest person who is in control of emotions and passions. A warrior may be able to conquer a city but he is weak in God’s eyes when compared to the person whose spirit is under control. Today we are tempted to admire and follow “the celebrity.” Too often the celebrity has attained notoriety simply through ruthless bullying of others.
In the final analysis it is what God values that shapes the lives and decisions of his people. We have the freedom to roll the dice – “cast the lots” in Solomon’s terminology – and take our chances with ignoring righteousness but ultimately it is God’s way that prevails.
O Lord, in our age that values knowledge above wisdom, passion above prudence and power above all else, give us wisdom to live as you have declared as right. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.