31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.
32 Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.
There is honor in old age, though perhaps less now than in the days of Solomon, as folly is harmful to one’s health. The commands of wisdom “will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity” if you keep them, but “the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days.” In any event the elderly ought to be honored, whether wise or foolish we have much to learn from them. Not least the lesson that if all goes well we also will live to old age, and must live with the consequences of the decisions we’ve made.
“Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” There is an apocryphal story of Alexander the Great, in which he meets a wise man after having conquered his way into India. “I have conquered the world,” Alexander told him. The wise man replied, “And I have conquered my desire to conquer the world.” Though Alexander was the epitome of the warrior conqueror, he is said to have drank himself to death at the age of thirty two. If we must choose between self-mastery and worldly success, surely the former is better than the latter.
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” We may consider casting lots as a matter of luck, but perhaps the ancients were wise to be skeptical of coincidence. Though we may not be certain either way, there is wisdom in learning to be content with the hand we are dealt. Even in circumstances we would consider unlucky, there is always something to be grateful for. God’s general will, applicable to all, is rarely specified as such – one of the few examples is found in the first letter to the Thessalonians. We are told to “give thanks in all circumstances,” but not for all circumstances, “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”