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Poetic Crowns

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Most commonly a crown is understood to designate a splendorous headpiece worn especially by a king or emperor. For example, the biblical King David praises the Lord for what He has done for him, saying:

You welcomed him with rich blessings
And placed a crown of pure gold on his head (Ps. 21:3).1

Moreover, a crowned head was used in speaking of David’s splendorous royal crown (cf. Ps 132:17-18).

Nevertheless, the scriptures very often speak metaphorically of a crown worn on the head as a sign or symbol of honor, authority, or splendor (cf. Ps. 8:5). The psalmist of Psalms 65:11 points to “the crown of the year” in the natural world.

Metaphorically, the word crown often appears in the scriptural book of Proverbs. The author of Proverbs, traditionally understood as King Solomon (cf. I Kgs, 4:29-34; Pr. 1:1), was well known for his crowning wisdom. H. J. Austel writes, “Solomon’s wisdom was recognized to be greater than that of any other man.”2 For example,1) a grand blessing is found in Proverbs 12:4 which declares, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown”. 2) Proverbs 10:6 displays the good news that, “Blessings crown the head of the righteous”. 3) This is especially true of the spiritually wise person as stated in Proverbs 14:24: “The wealth of the wise is their crown.” 4) In Old Testament times it was emphasized that spiritual wisdom is that which is most needed --it is virtually a crown of proper living.

Proverbs also contains other metaphorical uses. Proverbs 16:31 speaks of gray hair as a “crown of splendor”, which is “obtained by a righteous life”. Yet this, is but an example of righteous living which, is best exemplified in Christ’s time of living on earth. Other proverbs use “crown” in other ways such as, grandchildren “are a crown to the aged” (Pr. 17:6). This is especially the case with a righteous family which lives with close familial ties. Proverbs 14:18 is of special interest for it underscores the high value of being spiritually prudent as being “crowned with knowledge”.

May the wisdom of the Psalms be utilized by God’s faithful followers. Such takes place with those whose humility is associated with righteous living. Indeed, God crowns the humble person with salvation (Ps. 149:4). Moreover, God is gracious to people who truly repent of their sinful ways, for then he “forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,” and “crowns you with love and compassion” (Ps. 103:3, 4b). May this be truly the case for all who live and trust in obedience to the Lord and his Word.

The above discussion is reminiscent of the words of John in the biblical account in Revelation (Rev. 14:14-16). There he tells of a vision speaking of the Son of Man wearing a crown of gold, which most logically speaks of Jesus Christ. Thus, John writes, “I looked and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.” (Rev. 14:14). Accordingly, Walvoord can write:

Though the one described is said to be like the son of man, it is probable that this none other than Christ Himself participating in the divine judgments of God upon a wicked world. This probability is reinforced by the golden crown speaking of His glorified state and His royal dignity.3

As the hymn writer expresses it:

Crown him with many crowns.
The Lamb upon His throne:
Hark! How the heav’nly anthem drowns
All music but its own!
Awake my soul and sing
Of Him who died for thee,
And hail him as thy matchless king
Thru‘ all eternity.4             

1 All Scripture references are from the NIV.

2 Hermann J. Austel in Richard D. Patterson and Hermann J. Austel, “1 and 2 Kings” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gabelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), IV:55.

3 John F. Walvoord, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), 220-221.

4 George J. Elvey, “Crown Him with Many Crowns.”

Related Topics: Terms & Definitions

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