I recently just realized that I had clocked 15 years in the ministry, and time has run fast with my head immersed in the works of Jesus Christ.
Whenever I am asked to tackle a certain issue disturbing young Christians, I always ensure that my answer is fully based on the teachings of the Bible to avoid misleading people.
Recently, a group of 4 teenagers argued about the keeping of hair by Christians. They posed a question that took me to specific verses in the Bible before I met them for an interactive session.
They wanted to know, what does hair symbolize in the Bible?
Hair has been used to symbolize several things in the Bible. In Judges 16:19, hair has been used as a symbol of strength. In the verse, Samson’s hair is shaved by Delilah, after which his massive strength dwindles. Samson was a judge in Israel and had massive strength from God that helped him win battles against several enemies. God had commanded that his hair be kept intact since birth, and he was considered a Nazarite.
I welcome you to join me in this article as we delve into the symbolism of hair in the Bible. We will also learn what God thinks about hair and look at the Pauline principles of hair in men and women.
Moreover, we will discuss the spiritual meaning of hair, among other interesting topics on hair. Read to the end to learn more about hair in the Bible.
What does God think about hair?
In Numbers 6, God instructs Moses to give those Israelites who would be devoted to working for him. They were required to make a special vow to God, and certain conditions were to be followed.
They were forbidden from taking any wine, and no razor blade was allowed to touch their hair. They were not allowed to shave as this was a special symbol of separation from God.
These people were labelled Nazarites and showed us that, in some instances, God considers hair as one of His special symbols linking Him to humankind.
In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul thinks it is disgraceful for a man to keep long hair: “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”
In the same verse, long hair is considered the glory of a woman.
It has been explained that for a woman, hair has been given to her for her glory. Therefore some scholars have assumed that God dislikes long hair in men but does not have an issue when women keep their hair long.
In 1 Peter 3:3, God thinks that outward adornment like plaited hair is vain to a Christian: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear.”
He feels that this outward beauty does not glorify Him.
Instead, God prefers when one concentrates on internal appearance, making their hearts and relationships right with Him. He would therefore like Christians to focus more on creating a better relationship with God rather than our appearance.
In 1 Timothy 2:9, God describes how His ideal woman adorns: “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.”
He describes His ideal woman as one who clothes with modesty and without braided hair.
This verse has been assumed to mean that God prefers Christian women only to keep their natural and not improvise them with styles like braiding.
In Leviticus 19:32, God equates grey hair on the head of an older man to honor and commands His people to respect them and fear Him: “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.”
It is assumed that older men have lived long enough and possess lots of wisdom; thus, they deserve to be respected.
In Leviticus 21, God instructs His priests to neither make bald patches on their heads nor cut the edges of their beards.
By forbidding them from making bald patches on their heads, it has been assumed that the hair of the priests has a special meaning to God.
These are some verses in the Bible that have been linked to God’s perception of human hair and how He pictures the hair in different situations.
What are the Pauline principles of hair in men and women?
The Pauline principles of hair in men and women are believed to have been sourced from 1 Corinthians 11. In this letter, Paul wrote to the Corinthians regarding the correct way of grooming in the eyes of God.
His instructions were that a wife was supposed to either cover her head or cut her hair short before worshiping God. However, he termed the action of a wife cutting her hair as disgraceful and, therefore, only advised them to cover their hair while going before the Lord.
For a man, he terms long hair as being naturally disgraceful to them.
Therefore, men are advised to keep their hair short and well-kept. The Pauline principle, therefore, requires women to keep their hair long while men are required to keep their hair short.
Bible verses about hair
1 Corinthians 11 talks about long hair being the glory of a woman and being disgraceful when kept by a man. The verse advises women to keep their long hair but ensure it is well covered when appearing before the Lord.
The verse terms it disgraceful when a woman cuts her hair short. Men, on the other hand, are advised not to have long hair.
This has been assumed to mean that men should keep their hair short since they are not required to cover them when praying or prophesying.
1 Peter 3:3 advises Christians not to concentrate on the outward beauty of their bodies and enhancements like hair braiding: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear.”
Instead, they are advised to make their relationships right with God to reach His kingdom.
1 Timothy 2:9 talks about the dress code of a modest woman. The verse advises women to dress in respectable ways while ensuring self-control.
The verse further forbids women from wearing expensive jewelry and braiding their hair as this does not appear modest in the Lord’s eyes.
In Matthew 10:30, Jesus talks to his disciples about the persecution that would arise before his second coming: “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.”
However, he assures them that everything will be okay with them and that not even a single hair on their heads will turn grey.
In Acts 18:18, Apostle Paul is quoted as setting out towards Syria with Aquila and Priscila: “After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.”
He stops at a place called Cenchreae, where he cuts his hair. He did so because he was under a vow.
In John 12:3, Mary, the sister to Lazarus, honors the Lord Jesus Christ by anointing his feet. In the verse, Mary takes an expensive ointment and weeps at the feet of Jesus.
She then uses her hair to wipe his feet to the point where the whole house is filled with fragrance.
In Leviticus 13:3, the Bible explains how the ancient priests used to diagnose people with leprosy. The priest would observe the diseased area of a person, and if the hair had turned white and the disease seemed deeper than his skin, then the person would be diagnosed with a leprous disease.
In Judges 16, Samson, a one-time judge of Israel, reveals an important secret to a spy he had fallen in love with. He tells her that his strength lies in his hair, after which the spy cuts the hair down.
This, in turn, renders Samson powerless, and he gets defeated by his enemies, who capture and gouge out his eyes. In the same verse, the hair is mentioned as having grown again while Samson was held captive, leading to him doing the revenge mission on the Philistines.
In Proverbs 20:29, the glory of young men is described as being in their strength: “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”
However, older men take pride in their grey hair, which symbolizes wisdom gained over time.
Acts 27:34 talks about the discipleship that would drain the apostles of their energy: “Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.”
They were advised to take some food with them to ensure no hair from their heads fell, a sign of malnourishment.
This is because the process entailed movement over vast places, and they needed enough nourishment to run the ministry of Jesus Christ.
In Daniel 7:9, the Prophet Daniel receives a great vision from God as he dreams: “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.”
In the vision, he pictures the throne of God and describes His hair as pure as wool.
In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three servants of God, refuse to worship the image of King Nebuchadnezzar. He gets infuriated by the decision made by the three men and throws them into the fire.
When he realizes that the fire has not hurt them, he calls them out, and it is observed that the hair on their head was not burned in any way.
In Psalms 69:4, King David talks about those people he considers enemies that had been fighting him: “More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore?”
He says that those people who hate him without cause are more than the hairs on his head.
Songs of Solomon 5:11 describes the hair of the great King of Israel as being wavy and black as a raven showing us how richly dark his hair must have been: “His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven.”
In Psalms 71:18, King David offers his genuine prayers to God: “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”
He asks God not to forsake him in his old age when his hair would have grown grey so that he can tell the next generations about the great doings of God.
In Numbers 6, God gives Moses crucial conditions for one to be considered a Nazarite and a devoted servant of God. Not only was one forbidden from taking any wine but also from shaving their hair.
This special group of devotees was called Nazarites and vowed to serve God forever according to His will.
Proverbs 16:31 tells us about grey hair being considered a crown of glory since it is earned over years of living a righteous life: “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”
These are just some Bible verses that have been quoted mentioning something to do with hair.
11 symbolic meanings of hair in the Bible
In 1 Corinthians 11, hair has been used as a symbol of the glory of a woman. This has been assumed to mean a symbol of the beauty of a woman. They are, therefore, advised to keep their hair long as it is a part of their beauty. Cutting their hair short is considered disgraceful and is discouraged.
In the same verse, the long hair of a man is a symbol of disgrace. According to the verse, nature does not allow a man to keep long hair; it should therefore be kept short and neat.
In Proverbs 16:31, grey hair symbolizes glory awarded to one for leading a righteous life. Some scholars have translated the verse to mean that if one struggles to lead a righteous life, God might reward them with a long life to enjoy their old age.
In Numbers 6, the hair is considered a special symbol to denote a Nazarite. Nazarites were people who God had chosen to devote their lives to serving Him. They were forbidden from shaving their hair since birth, differentiating them from normal humans. They, therefore, kept their hair from the first day they were born to the last day in honor of their covenant with God.
In Judges 16, hair has been used as a symbol of divine strength from God. In the verse, Samson, the strongest judge of Israel, reveals a crucial secret to Delilah, a Philistine spy that Samson had fallen in love with. He reveals to her that his massive strength lies in his hair and that his divine power would be lost if cut. Delilah manages to lure Samson into a deep sleep and invites one of the Philistines to cut his hair. Samson ends up losing his strength and gets captured by his fiercest enemies.
In Psalm 71:18, grey hair has been used as a symbol of old age. In the verse, King David prays to God not to leave him during his old age when his hair would be grey. King David asked God to be with him so that he could give testimonies about his great deeds to his upcoming generations.
An Estimate that showed infinity
In Psalms 69:4, hair is used as a symbol of the number of estimated enemies King David had. According to this one-time great King of Israel, he had enemies that surpassed the number of hairs on his head, showing that he had many of them.
In Leviticus 13:3, white hair was used as a symbol of a leprous illness. According to the verse, a priest would diagnose this illness after observing the sick person keenly.
If the hairs on the place where the sick man is ailing turned white, the priest would declare them leprous since this white hair symbolized leprous diseases.
In Acts 27:34, hair falling has been used as a symbol of malnutrition. In the verse, the disciples of Jesus were briefed on how tedious and demanding it would be to run the ministry of Jesus after his departure.
They were advised to carry enough food so that no hair fell from them due to malnutrition.
In Proverbs 20:29, older men use grey hair to symbolize wisdom. The verse says that while young men are proud of their strength, older men hold their pride in their grey hairs, a symbol of wisdom they have acquired since they were young.
In 1 Peter 3:3, braided hair symbolizes outward beauty that God does not focus on. The verse tells us that instead of enhancing this outward beauty, we should focus on building a better relationship with God, which He values.
Can Christian women have short hair?
Christian women can have short hair; however, Apostle Paul discourages them from cutting their hair short in 1 Corinthians 11. According to Apostle Paul, long hair is a woman’s glory, so it should be maintained.
It is disgraceful when a woman cuts their hair. However, some Christian women have been forced to cut their hair short, maybe due to conditions like illnesses.
They should, therefore, not feel disgraced when donning their short hair, especially if it is necessary for their conditions.
Can men have long hair, according to the Bible?
According to 1 Corinthians 11, it is disgraceful for a man to have long hair as nature does not support it. Men are advised against donning long hair unless they have been chosen as Nazarites.
This is assumed to mean that men must keep their hair short and neat.
What does hair mean spiritually?
Only a little has been written about the meaning of hair spiritually. However, some people have tried to give special reasons for what they consider hair to mean spiritually.
Some people feel that hair spiritually means strength to them. They equate their hair to strength and sometimes feel drained whenever it is shaved.
Therefore, they ensure they keep their hair for as long as possible.
Some feel that hair spiritually means attachment. They keep their hair because they have attached it to something or someone special.
If these special things or people depart from their lives, they shave their hair to show that the attachment is physically broken.
The spirituality of hair is assumed to be attached to individuals, and no factual spiritual meaning is attached to hair.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.