Dying at a “good old age” is a sign of the blessing of God

Dying at a “good old age” is a sign of the blessing of God

Long life is often described in the Bible as one of the signs of God’s blessing. One of God’s promises to Abraham was that he would die at a “good old age”[i], something that came about when he died at the age of 175[ii]. Those who were blessed by God are often described with similar language. Gideon died at a “good old age”[iii], while Jehoida is listed as dying when he “grew old and full of days”[iv]. Long life in the land God promised his people was also commonly listed as an outcome of following the commands God gave his people[v].

This connection between God’s blessing and long life became somewhat intuitive for the people of God. You can see this when the natural response to the crowning of a new king is the call, “Long live the king!”[vi]. Psalmists who pray for the blessing of a king included prayers for long life along with riches and honour[vii].

The converse is also true; God’s punishment on his people often included the shortening of their lives. In the most extreme example of this, God’s punishment on Eli and his sons included a curse that there would not be an old man in Eli’s family line forever[viii]. Not having any older people in that family was a sign God had punished them.

We can go too far with this thought; it is a general principle rather than an absolute rule. There are many examples of godly people dying young and wicked kings living to old age. Not all older people can say they are old due to God’s blessing due to their godliness. That being said, it does remain a general principle: old age is a blessing from God.

That’s quite a different way of thinking about age to how our modern world views it, isn’t it? Think about that next time you spot a wrinkle or realise that you have aches and pains you never used to have; it is a blessing to be given long life. Old age is a blessing from God and not a curse. That doesn’t mean it is easy or glamorous, but it does change our attitude towards it. Another birthday means God has allowed our lives to continue another year. What a remarkable blessing that is, that sinful people can be sustained in such a way! Just because so many people grow old does not take away from the wonder that God blesses people with extra time in the world he has made.



[i] Genesis 15:15.

[ii] Genesis 25:7-8.

[iii] Judges 8:32.

[iv] 2 Chronicles 24:15.

[v] This can be seen in Deuteronomy 5:33 and 22:7.

[vi] 1 Samuel 10:24, 1 Kings 1:25.

[vii] Psalm 72:15.

[viii] 1 Samuel 2:32.


This is an excerpt from Distinctively Christian Retirement: A Biblical call to serve Jesus well in older age. You can find out more here. It is available as an ebook (Amazon, Kobo), a paperback (Book Depository, Koorong), and now also as an audiobook on Audible here (as well as other places where good audiobooks are sold).