The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head.
A weak young man is not a sight that we like to see. Between young manhood and weakness there is no natural agreement; the two things do not accord with one another. In young men we look for strength, and delight to see it there. Moreover, youth itself is proud of the strength of which it is conscious, and "glories" in it. We look at -
I. THAT WHEREON WE CONGRATULATE IT. We look with satisfaction, and perhaps with pride, upon the young man who possesses:
1. Physical strength. Well-developed muscular power and skill, the attainment of the largest possible share of bodily vigour and capacity, this is one element of manliness, ands although it is not the highest, it is good in itself, and so far as it goes.
2. Intellectual power. The possession of knowledge, of mental vigour and grasp, of reasoning faculty, of business shrewdness and capacity, of imaginative power, of strength of will; but especially:
3. Moral and spiritual strength. Power to resist the evil forces which are around us; to put aside, without hesitation, the solicitations to unholy pleasure or unlawful gain; to decline the fellowship and friendship which might be pecuniarily or socially advantageous, but which would be morally and spiritually injurious; to move onward in the way of duty, unscathed by the darts and arrows of evil which are in the air; to undertake and to execute beneficent work; to range one's self with the honourable and holy few against the unworthy multitude; to bear a brave witness on behalf of truth, purity, sobriety, righteousness, whatever the forces that are in league against it; - this is the noblest element of strength, and this is pre-eminently the glory of young manhood.
II. ITS PECULIAR TEMPTATION. The temptation of the strong is to disregard and even to despise the weak, to look down with a proud sense of superiority on those who are less capable than themselves. This is both foolish and sinful. For comparative weakness is that from which the strong have themselves come up, and into which they will themselves go down. It is a question of time, or, if not of time, of privilege and bestowment (see infra), and a proud contempt is quite misplaced. The young should clearly understand that strength, when it is modest, is a beautiful thing, but when haughty and disdainful, is offensive in the sight both of God and man.
III. ITS CLEAR OBLIGATION. The first thing that human strength should do is to recognize the source whence it came, and to let its recognition find expression in devout and reverent action. "Thy God hath commanded thy strength." As, ultimately, all strength of every kind proceeds from God; and as he constantly sustains in power, and the strong as much as the weak are dependent on his fatherly kindness; and as the strong owe more to his goodness than the weak (inasmuch as they have received more at his hand); - the first thing they should ask themselves is - What can we render unto the Lord? And they will find that to devote their strength to the service of their Saviour and of their kind is to find a source of blessedness immeasurably higher, as well as far more lasting, than that which comes from the sense of power. It is not what we have, but what we give, that fills the soul with pure and abiding joy. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.