You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.
This is one of those duties which are derived from the instinctive feelings of the heart. The old man was honoured before the reasonableness of the obligation was considered or the benefit of it understood. From that sensibility with which the Almighty Father has impressed the human soul, men often feel before they think, and act before they have considered their motives of action. From the same source many of the most refined pleasures of life originate. Ask the contemplative man why he delights to view the fragments of antiquity — the hanging arch, the mutilated column, the moss-grown tower! Ask him why he sometimes watches the closing twilight, wanders through the gloomy valley, or listens with peculiar pleasure to the distant murmur of the sea! He will find it difficult, perhaps, to account for his sensations, to analyse his satisfactions, or to trace them to their cause; but he will tell you that he felt and enjoyed them before he knew why or considered wherefore. In the same manner those who can contemplate the hoary head without some prepossession of respect and tenderness want the essential requisite of nature for performing their duty to the aged as they ought. But if they wish to discover other motives, such may be found in abundance. It is to the pious aged that the young are to look for superior knowledge and conspicuous virtue. They have enjoyed the benefits of experience, and are therefore qualified to act as monitors and guides. They may be considered, too, as oracles, who speak to the serious and well-disposed with overwhelming authority. They have encountered the temptations and difficulties which yet await their younger brethren, and can point out to others the way by which they escaped. They, probably, have been exposed to trials from which our fortitude would shrink in terror, and have mortified those evil dispositions of nature which might be preparing for us disappointments, misery, and guilt. To render our veneration more personal and endearing we should consider them, also, as dead to those pleasures and enjoyments which we regard as our chief felicity, and labouring with those infirmities under which we must one day sink. Besides, therefore, the precepts of religion and the arguments of reason, there are other motives arising from sensibility and the humane affections of the heart, which render it an indispensable duty in the young to reverence the old.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.