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.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

33 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.

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    • Dear Jill, I have the "Complete Jewish Bible" and will soon also have the "Complete Jewish Study Bible." I have been very blessed to study God's Word in the original Jewish order while being able to learn many exciting meanings hidden in that most beautiful of languages. Bless God and you seek His heart.
  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!
  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.
    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!
    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Dennis. We are glad that the article spoke to you. Feel free to share the link with others.
  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.
  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
    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!
  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?
    • Behind Proverbs is the idea that one's words can either produce goodness or sin. In Israelite thought, sin produces death and goodness produces life. See this IBC article: https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/sin-hebrew-thought/
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