An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones. – Proverbs 12:4
A husband may not be responsible for his wife’s actions, but he certainly is seen differently by others in light of her reputation and character. It is a great joy to see a married couple who work together, who highlight the strengths of their spouse and resolve issues well. This proverb speaks of the importance of a good wife and stresses that her character is crucial.
If you were to list what your idea of a good wife would be, what would you mention? The Bible provides a list in Proverbs 31 for us, and I’ll paraphrase some of the things mentioned. Check out the full list here in Proverbs 31:10-31 (the link goes to Bible Gateway). Do these characteristics match up with what you have in mind for a good wife?
- Her husband trusts her and her actions. (vs. 11)
- She does good, not evil. (vs.12)
- She purchases materials and makes clothes. (vs.13)
- She is an early riser in order to serve he family. (vs.15)
- She is a profitable land investor. (vs. 16)
- She has strong arms. (vs.17)
- She cares for poor and needy people. (vs.20)
- Her actions help make her husband famous. (vs. 23)
- She speaks with wisdom and kindness. (vs.26)
- She fears the LORD. (vs.30)
- Her deeds are praised. (vs. 31)
Does anything in this list make you uneasy? I’m slightly scared of this type of woman! Surely only men are supposed to strengthen their arms? However King Lemuel, the writer of Proverbs 31, and highly influenced by his mother, thought differently (“The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him:” – Proverbs 31:1).
Unlike our world’s idea of a wife having a demeaning role in the home and in society, Proverbs portrays an extremely positive and powerful picture of a married woman who is godly and wise. This woman has strength in many areas. She supports her husband’s work and makes him the talk of the town. People assess her, nudge the lucky husband, and say, “You did well with her, buddy! (or say it under Facebook pics of her!)”
The proverb we are looking at in 12:4 speaks of this type of woman crowning the head of her husband. This crowning seems to speak of honour, headship, and glory – all things that lift up the husband in the eyes of his community. He is truly blessed to have such a wonderful wife, who supports him and doesn’t supplant his authority. The opposite type of woman mentioned has intent to cause unrest and pain to her husband. Her actions bring his status among the community into disrepute, since, as the argument goes, what wise man would have married her? A man whose wife constantly makes unwise and spiteful decisions will find his efforts to get anywhere in life severely held up. The proverb speaks of the shameful wife rotting her spouse’s bones. He is hampered in his efforts to flourish in life.
In a world where self-purpose is all important this ideal stands in clear contrast. This excellent wife is satisfied with bringing about God’s and her husband’s glory by excelling in all things in her area of service.
I certainly want to seek such a woman for marriage; as of October, 2013, I’ve yet to marry.
What can we learn from this?
One thing we learn at least is the importance of whom we choose to marry. They will be our closest companion and will help us in our work/ministry. If our spouses seek to be destructive it will be easy as pie for them to bring us down. Your spouse will know you better than anyone else. If, however, they are godly and servant-hearted, your spouse will know how best to serve you. Choose wisely. Peace be with you.
Thanks for reading! – Pedrozki (Pete)
Proverbs speaks of this topic elsewhere: Proverbs 18:2
I’ve written about a similar passage here: Guaranteeing, Honour, and Forgiveness – Proverbs 11:15-17 (verse 16)
Thoughts or questions? Have your say in the comments section!
Note: All scripture is taken from Bible Gateway and is either the New King James Version or New International Version. I am using a commentary by John A. Kitchen for help with difficult concepts and words.