What does Proverbs 16:31 mean?
ESV: Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.
NIV: Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
NASB: A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.
CSB: Gray hair is a glorious crown; it is found in the ways of righteousness.
NLT: Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.
KJV: The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.
NKJV: The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.
Verse Commentary:
An Amish proverb states that "we get too soon old and too late smart." Certain facets of wisdom only come by experience. Unfortunately, some people age more quickly than they mature. In prior eras, numerous factors led to fewer people surviving into old age. Those who did, however, usually acquired some level of wisdom. Solomon says of such people that their "gray hair is a crown of glory." He adds that the crown of glory is more readily acquired by leading a righteous life (Proverbs 3:1–2; 9:10–11).

Luke identifies two elderly people who led a righteous life. They were Simeon and Anna. Luke 2:25 describes Simeon as "righteous and devout," and he was "waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him." Anna, a prophetess, was an 84-year-old widow. Luke writes that she "did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer" (Luke 2:37). These two righteous, elderly people rejoiced when Jesus' parents brought Him as an infant to the temple. Both spoke with wisdom concerning Jesus. Simeon told Mary that Jesus was "appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel" (Luke 2:34), and verse 38 informs us that Anna gave thanks to God and spoke of Him "to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem."
Verse Context:
Proverbs 16:27–33 closes chapter 16, as Solomon continues his wise sayings. This passage contrasts evil men with men who are righteous, honest, and disciplined. Evil in the heart produces wicked speech, but righteousness in the heart shows itself in righteous living.
Chapter Summary:
This part of Solomon's proverbs emphasizes human motives, self-control, and common sense. Many of these proverbs are arranged in a two-part style. The first and second half of these statements make the same basic point, but from opposite perspectives. Notable verses are verses 9 and 33, speaking of God's sovereignty, and verse 18, a famous warning about arrogance. Also often cited is verse 25, which repeats Proverbs 14:12 and encourages self-reflection.
Chapter Context:
A lengthy list of Solomon's wise sayings began in chapter 10. Chapter 16 begins a section mostly composed of comparisons and completions. It extends to Proverbs 22:16. Man's thoughts, speech, motives, and conduct are examined in this chapter. The chapter also addresses pride, evil, and injustice.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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