A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance,
but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken.
My translation: A glad heart will deal well (with) faces, but with a sorrowful heart (is) the broken spirit/breath.
After the long tirade against the wicked and their place before God we come to a sobering proverb on the emotional state of a person. We may be able to say that one wears their emotions. A glad heart makes a happy face, but a sad heart makes a defeated stature. This seems more than daily happiness/sadness. It seems to be deeper. Maybe it is joy and grief, optimism and depression, etc.
This proverb also arises from a the dominant Hebrew thought that one’s core of emotion and thought was in the Levav, the heart. Some may translate this word as mind in places, but I believe it a better decision to leave it as the heart. I focus on the heart because it is the metaphorical center that we use to describe conscious, feeling, intuition, and dispositions. It is the place that we believe the immediate, almost random and passionate emotions arise, and it is also the place that our unknown dispositions, habits, and preconditioned thoughts arise. It almost sits as the beginning and end of the rational process. It is the spur of the moment that begs us to reign it in with reason, and then stores the lessons learned and habits developed from reason as our dispositions. Thus, our heart is the core of our very countenance. We cannot hide the emotions of our heart. At least not for very long.
This is the seat of wisdom and folly. Proverbs does not judge whether joy or sadness is a virtue. It does admit (in Ch. 14) that the wise heart will suffer from sadness. But it does admit to the truth that the state of our heart is shown through our physical appearance. This is the importance of prayer and meditation. We are to commune with God, not for the sake of ourselves, but for the sake of worship and love for God. However, in these moments, even those in brokenness, will offer our heart to the Creator and the mystery of God’s order. It will allow our heart to be retuned to what is needed for our situation.