Psychological health and aging

Psychological health and aging

A tranquil heart leads to a healthy body; envy is rottenness to the bones. – Proverbs 14:30

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 15:13 A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 12:25 Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

Proverbs 18:14 The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit?

A 2022 study, “Aged by Sadness and Loneliness,” suggests that feeling unhappy or lonely could speed up aging. Worry and brokenness are more deleterious than smoking or even some diseases. It turns out that people have both an actual age and a biological age. Our biological age is a measure of wear and tear on the body. Our biological age can reduce or increase life expectancy, regardless of our actual age.

“Using data scientists from nearly 5,000 Chinese adults, scientists built a so-called aging clock. This analyzed 16 biomarkers, along with pressure, body mass index, and lung function, to provide a biological age. When the researchers used this model to assess an additional group of Chinese adults, those who smoked had a biological age 1.25 years higher than the healthy control group, and those with a history of smoke, liver damage, or lung conditions had a biological age of 1.5 years higher.”

“But the biological age of those who reported strong feelings of unhappiness and loneliness were even higher. “Taking care of your psychological health is the greatest contributor that you can have slowing down your pace of aging.” Study co-author Fedor Galkin tells The Guardian. ‘Your body and soul are connected – that is our main message.’” (The Week Magazine, October 14, 1922).

The Scriptures reveal a connection between the human spirit and physical well-being. “The internal psyche has the power to heal as well as to destroy the body. One’s internal demeanor affects physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health” (Bland).

Psychological well-being and health discoveries of the 21st century correspond to what the Scriptures revealed regarding the human spirit. The Scriptures contrast a healthy spirit with a crushed or downcast spirit.

Proverbs 18:14 The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit?

What differentiates a healthy spirit that supports mental and emotional health from a broken spirit?

The Hebrew word translated as spirit is ruach. Ruach is typically translated as breath, wind, or spirit. Here it is used in the special sense of an individual’s inner life or mental attitude. So by analogy, ruach refers to an individual’s emotional, mental, or spiritual condition. TEV has translated spirit as the will to live. It has the sense of “desire to go on living” or “desire to stay alive” (UBS).

The implied answer to the question posed in Proverbs 18:14b (but a crushed spirit who can bear?) is “no one” (Miller).


Laughter “is a bodily exercise precious to health” (Aristotle).

Father I long to experience Your joy in the depths of my heart. May my face reflect the deep joy and pleasure that You provide my innermost being. Thank You for repairing my crushed and wounded heart.


Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

A downcast or crushed spirittranslates the Hebrew word nakhe. Nakhe literally means defeated or beaten. It refers to something subdued or brought low in condition or status. It comes from the Hebrew verb naka, meaning to whip, flog, strike, scorch, or conflict. Here it is a word picture of being emotionally and spiritually beat up and brought low. It connotes despair or discouragement.

The Hebrew word translated as joyful or cheerful is sameach. Sameach has the sense of being happy, joyful, merry, full of, or producing joy.

Proverbs 15:13 A glad heart makes a happy face.

A joyful are glad heart is like a fountain within the innermost being. When the joy of the Lord is present, it overflows and bubbles up. It makes a happy or cheerful face. A glad heart is the key to a full, healthy life (Garrett).

Proverbs 15:30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.

A cheerful look [lit., the light of the eyes] indicates a positive attitude toward life. Can bring joy to the heart, in the same way that good news gives health to the bones [lit., makes the bones fat] (Proverbs 15:30). A happy heart is especially conducive to good health (Proverbs 15:13, 15, 30; 17:22) (Miller). Inner joy becomes their precious possession all the time (Proverbs 15:15b).  

The Hebrew expression meor-enayim is translated as a cheerful look or bright eyes. Meor-enayim literally means the light of the eyes. This metaphor connotes the outward manifestation of inward vitality and joy.

The light of the eyes refers to the radiant glow on the face of a happy person (UBS). Bright eyes are indicative of deep inward joy. Cheerful looks uplift and encourage others. A cheerful look brings joy to the heart. The eyes speak louder than words (Waltke).

This idea has been translated as “Smiling faces make you happy” (TEV) or “A friendly smile makes you happy” (CEV). Rejoices the heart connotes the idea of lifting the spirits of those that observe a joyful, cheerful countenance.

The Hebrew metaphor refreshes the bones may be translated as makes for good health, puts fat on the bones, or gives health to the body is the translation of tedasheb-atsem. Tedasheb-atsem in Hebrew literally means it makes the bones fat. Fat bones are considered healthy bones. Refreshes the bones is a figurative expression connoting well-being. It includes an individual’s physical and psychological health and well-being (Constable, UBS, Waltke).

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

The Hebrew word translated as good medicine is geha. Geha is only used once in the Old Testament. It connotes healing or a cure. Good medicine is literally written as “does good to the gehah.” It connotes, “A cheerful heart [joyful] causes good healing.” This can be expressed as “causes a sick person to recover,” “makes for good health,” and “helps and heals.” This thought may be expressed as “If you are always happy, sickness will not spoil your life” (UBS).

A downcast spirit has a sense of “despair” or “discouragement.” Dries up the bones contrasts with “makes for good healing” and means “to lose energy,” “go downhill in health,” or even “to die away,” that is, “to die slowly.” It may be rendered as “a despairing heart takes away a person’s strength” (UBS). A crushed spirit weakens or degenerates the whole being.

A joyful heart will not reverse aging, but it may well slow it down a bit.


© Dr. H 2022

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