In this period of instability, certain measures—like social distancing and staying home—can protect our physical health. At the same time, our spiritual and mental wellbeing is also very important. Scripture states that a strong spirit provides internal stability in the midst of physical infirmity, and a positive mindset promotes joy in difficult times. According to Proverbs, everyone has God-given life-breath, which illuminates the divine-human relationship and fills each person with the brightness of spiritual health. Alongside a concern for physical wellness, the Bible highlights the importance of having a healthy spirit.

Proverbs reminds readers that inner health is an important component of one’s overall condition. One proverb notes, “A joyful heart (לב שׂמח; lev sameach) is good medicine, but a stricken spirit (רוח; ruach) dries up the bones” (17:22). In Hebrew thought, the “heart” (לב; lev) is the seat of intellect and thought; thus, a happy heart is the equivalent of a joyful mindset or healthy emotional state. A heart of rejoicing ensures an intact spirit: “A joyful heart makes a good countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit (רוח; ruach) is stricken” (Prov 15:13). Positive or praiseworthy thoughts lead to spiritual soundness, which can be a sustaining force through external difficulty (cf. Phil 4:8). Indeed, Proverbs says that a person’s “spirit (רוח; ruach) will endure sickness (מחלה; mahaleh), but a stricken spirit who can bear?” (18:14). To be clear, this proverb does not claim that a strong spirit prevents physical illness, but it does assert that one’s spirit is an engine of endurance that can help us to stand up under adversity.  

Along with the Hebrew word רוח (ruach), another term for “spirit” is נשׁמה (neshamah). Genesis calls this God-given spirit the “breath of life” (נשׁמת חי; nishmat hai) that animates humanity and defines our personhood (Gen 2:7). Proverbs echoes this understanding, saying, “The spirit (נשׁמה; neshamah) of humanity is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inward parts” (20:27). Spirit-health creates an internal luminescence that deepens the human-divine relationship. Jesus picks up on Proverbs’ point when he proclaims, “The eye is the lamp of the body, so that if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light” (Matt 6:22). In elaborating on this idea, he adds, “If then your whole body is full of light… it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light” (Lk 11:36). Just as we must prioritize our own physical health and that of our neighbors, we can also cultivate spirits that illuminate life’s shadows and serve as beacons of divine encouragement.

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28 COMMENTS

    • Link to a Hebrew Bible, has some pitfalls (Genesis 3:15 he shall bruise thy head, Numbers 13:33 And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephailim (fallen ones). Deuteronomy 32:8 angels of God. instead of children of Israel.

      • Thanks for responding to Jill, Franklin. Unfortunately, IBC’s system does not allow outside links on comment boards. Jill, you can find Hebrew Bibles by doing an internet search for either “Sefaria” and clicking on “Tanakh” or by searching for “mechon mamre.”

      • Franklin, are you saying Dept 32:8 should read angels of God or children of Israel? My understanding is that it should actually read sons of God. I get this from Dr. Michael Heiser. He goes into a lot of depth regarding his reasons. I believe the title of book is Unseen Realm.
        But I realize this is not the topic of above post.
        Thank you, Dr. Schaser, for this timely post on the importance of positive spirit. We focus on God’s ever present coming alongside us in all circumstances with a grateful heart.

        • Thanks for reading, Lois. The Greek Septuagint has “angels of God,” the Masoretic (Hebrew) text has “sons of Israel,” and 4QDeut in the Dead Sea Scrolls has “sons of God” (meaning, other gods who are inferior to the God of Israel). On the witness of the LXX and DSS, the verse should be understood as God dividing up the nations based on the number of divine beings who govern each nation.

        • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  1. I have learnt a lot on the Proverbs as a book of encouragement. I would like to learn more. Please send through my email. Blessings.

  2. I really like the union of spirit-man with our physical body, how the spirit of man influences the body. Just think when the human spirit is connected, stay connected to God’s Holy Spirit, like Jesus was as the Son of man on earth, how effective we shall be and live!

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  3. Thank you so much for this. I have often come across passages like these and found no comfort; partly due to a hardened heart but also a lack of deeper understanding. The part about inner luminescence literally “lit” me up inside, as I remember that Jesus is IN me.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Dennis. We are glad that the article spoke to you. Feel free to share the link with others.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  4. Again the word of our holy God proves to be the medicine of our souls. Thank you for such encouragement for a world that is deeply troubled. When the nations forget or reject the God of heaven, they are inviting judgement. But praise be to the LORD forever, mercy triumphs

  5. Thank you, Dr. Schaser, for your beautifully written insights from Proverbs. The Wisdom literature, even that included in the Apocryphal writings, has been among my favorites of literature…perhaps the Hebrew styles of prose/poetry & word-pictures. Your writing included those dimensions as well as being uplifting & affirming.
    Thank you again!

  6. Dr.Nick.,
    What an encouraging post at these times the spirit of fear is attacking most people globally, through the fear of sickness, and diseases. Thank you!
    Iam fully persuaded, that with a healthy Spirit, and by faith in Christ Jesus, the physically sick can exprience healing/divine health.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  7. REF Proverbs 20:27 – As with a pilot light that requires fuel to power up ignition, I believe our spirits need to genuinely seek and ‘switch on’ to connect with His Spirit, in order for Him to then ‘illuminate us (our spirit) as the Lord’s lamp’ God Bless

  8. Proverbs 18:21-Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Do our words really produce life or death after its own fruits? After Issac blessed Jacob with the first born blessings, Jacob’s life did not reflect the blessings Issac gave though. Or is there another rule that governs this verse?

  9. Dr Nick, Thanks for pointing me to the IBC article. Pls pardon me for my slowness to understand and my ignorance. Is it correct to say that Proverbs 18:21 is only applicable if it is uttered according to God’s will? Sin: Jacob’s actions (when he fools Isaac into thinking that he is Esau) will not be honored by God. Jacob did not get the blessings he had stolen, as it’s not God’s will for him. Uttered according to God’s will: Ultimately Jacob will be blessed, but certainly not with the blessings he believed he could steal from his brother. When Issac blesses Jacob with a different blessing – the second blessing that was meant for him, all of Issac’s words came to full fruition (according to God’s will).

  10. I recently discovered this meme on Facebook,”Fear does not stop death, it stops life. And worryihg does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.” All that you stated is so true. Your body reacts to worry & stress in a most negative way.Happiness comes from within.The day you put your total trust in God, He starts sending people or help your way.You are never alone if God is with you. I wake up feeling blessed & thankful every day. I am fortunate to be surrouded by nature & enjoy God’s creation. There is good coming out of stay at home. Some people are starting to see what is more important like family time.It has brought out goodwill & thoughtfulness.But,most important,they are focusing more God.

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