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In her right hand is length of days,
in her left hand are riches and glory. Bible

“right hand…left hand.” In the biblical culture, the right hand was always more highly esteemed than the left hand. In fact, in some contexts the left hand was considered the hand of cursing. That distinction was due to the fact that in the biblical culture people always washed themselves with their left hand after going to the bathroom, which also meant that they only ate with their right hand. Here in Proverbs 3:16, however, the use of “left hand” is not meant to convey a sense of cursing, but rather it is simply less esteemed than the right hand. [For more on the right hand of blessing and left hand of cursing, see commentary on Matt. 25:33].

It is noteworthy that the things in this verse are what most people want in life: long life, wealth, and glory (which includes “honor,” like you would get from your family. The word does not just mean “social recognition”). It is Wisdom and walking with God that brings those things. In other words, if you live a life of obedience to God and living wisely, you will get long life, wealth, and honor. In contrast, if you spend your energy trying to acquire wealth and glory, usually you will fail. If you do achieve them, they will be short lived. Wisdom and obedience are the key to everlasting success.

There is a valuable lesson for us in the fact that “length of days”—which here means more than just a long earthly life; it refers to a long life now and everlasting life later—is in Wisdom’s right hand, while “riches and glory” is in her left hand. Riches and glory are nice, but if a person does not have everlasting life, no amount of wealth and glory in this life will make up for not having everlasting life. Soon after the person dies he will be forgotten. How many people know the proper name of even one Pharaoh of Egypt or Roman Emperor? Fame and glory fade with death, everlasting life is forever!

“glory.” The Hebrew word can mean “glory” or “honor,” which are interrelated, because the one who has “glory” has honor, and vice versa, but the emphasis on “glory” here is important. In the Old Testament, Wisdom is personified, and God worked directly with her to accomplish His goals, and in the New Testament Jesus Christ is often associated with glory, and now God works with and through him to accomplish His goals. So the association with Wisdom and glory in the Old Testament projects well into the New Testament as Jesus Christ is closely associated with the concept of glory.


Commentary for: Proverbs 3:16