So… I’ve been plowing through the book of proverbs recently and as the title indicates, it’s been rocking our faces off. This post is the second of a two-part series, so you may want to start by reading the first post if you haven’t already (in fact, I highly recommend it).
As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m seeing themes develop throughout the book of Proverbs. One commentator stated (paraphrase): the book of Proverbs is not a linear progression of events or thought, it’s a proverbial heap of wisdom. Each verse (roughly) encapsulates a complete thought as synthesized and articulated by Solomon. Regardless of that, there are definitely themes present (these are copied/pasted from the previous post):
- Wisdom vs foolishness
- Diligence vs laziness
- Righteousness vs wickedness
- Listeners vs scoffers
- Truthfulness vs deceitfulness
- Remembering vs forgetting (God’s goodness)
All of the bolded words fall into the realm of wisdom and the non-bolded words, foolishness. As I read, I feel compelled to act as a man of wisdom. I feel God’s sweet conviction as he peels away at my foolishness and pokes at my folly. It stings so bitterly and feels so encouraging at the same time.
Each verse stings a bit, if I’m honest. But here are some that are especially convicting for us and our marriage.
3 proverbs that are rocking our marriage (2 of 3)
If you’d like to read the first part, here you go. Otherwise, if you’ve already read that one, read on!
Proverb #2: Characteristics of a godly wife AND what it means for how her husband values her
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.
This proverb shows the power a wife can have in her marriage and in the life of her husband. The translation above (ESV) uses the word “excellent”, but another translation reads “virtuous”. One Bible commentator writes, “Solomon seems to intend by this appellation, a woman who has all the perfections of her sex; wisdom, modesty, prudence, virtue, and, above all, economy and good management”. (source)
So what does that mean? How can a wife possibly have “all the perfections of her sex”? Is perfection possible? Certainly not… at least not aside from Christ.
Here’s the astounding part: a wife in Christ is perfect. It’s a state of being, not doing. It’s not that she does perfect things or acts the perfect way, she simply IS perfect in Christ. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
When a wife is in Christ, she is “the crown of her husband”. Think about a crown for a moment: it is a symbol of royalty. When a king wears his crown, it is hands-down the most important and valuable part of his attire. This passage is written by King Solomon, a Jew. For Jews, the crown is not a symbol of kingly power only, but also one of joy and gladness. Here’s another kicker, the same word “crown” is also used in Proverbs 14:24 where it describes the wealth of the wise–the reward for their wisdom (now there’s a rabbit trail I could follow for days!).
Husbands, do you treat your bride as your crown? I know I can improve…
Wives, there’s a catch. The second part of the verse says “she who brings shame is rottenness in his bones“. That’s some pretty vivid language; bone rot sounds excruciating. Being the husband of this kind of wife is like having ROT in the deepest parts of your body: your bones. So, what does it mean to “bring shame”. Let’s look a few verses prior, at Proverbs 11:22:
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion.
This proverb is talking about character over beauty. Ever watched reality television? Yes, there may be physically attractive people on them, but how often does their character tarnish how you view them entirely? Indeed, if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig! Character is most important, and character is the true definition of beauty.
Summary: Wives have immense influence on their husbands well being. Virtue starts with character, and husbands should value their wife more than their most valuable possession.
Proverb #3: Seeking counsel vs. isolation
Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
This one is a no brainer – or so it would seem. We’ve spoken with plenty of couples who understand this concept in principle but fail to put it into practice.
Notice it doesn’t state that we should have an abundance of “friends” or “connections”. It says “counselors”. Many couples set themselves up for failure simply because they haven’t cultivated quality “counselor” relationships. I’m not talking about therapists. Rather, I’m referring to those in your life who have godly wisdom AND you’ve given them authority to speak bluntly (with said wisdom) into your marriage.
Further into Proverbs, another passage jumps out (themes everywhere!):
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
Isolation. That’s such an interesting word here. Ancient towns and cities were socially integrated by necessity. You couldn’t stay home and just order things online. You had to leave and go the market, you needed to rely on others for survival, and that required relationship. Yet, we find this passage where, in the ESV translation, the word “isolates” is used. So what is it talking about?
Many commentators agree, the context of this word indicates that the one who “isolates” him or herself is emotionally and intellectually shutting others out because of self-conceit or pride. They think they know it all.
Is that you? Do you act as if you know it all?
Is that us? Do we act as if we know it all?
This has rocked our marriage because we’re so often seen as “experts” in marriage itself. Very view people in our lives feel like they have any additional wisdom to offer, so we’ve had to be very intentional about telling them: “YES, YES YOU DO HAVE WISDOM TO OFFER!” We need help as much as every couple. We struggle. We fight. We need more Jesus. And we need godly counselors to point us to Jesus.
Fierce couples, we MUST seek out godly mentors and counselors who can tell us when we have blind spots. We need people to call us out when we’re acting foolish. Otherwise, we’re raging against all sound judgement and we’re fools. We need godly counsel in our lives.
Summary: don’t isolate yourselves spiritually, emotionally, or intellectually. Stay humble, you don’t know it all. Surround yourself with godly counselors, or advisors. That’s true wisdom.
Our prayer is that we would be people who live lives of true, godly wisdom. As I’ve read Proverbs over the past few weeks, and will continue to finish this pass through, I’ve learned just how badly I need wisdom in my life. Beyond learning wise principles, I need grace to put them into practice.
After all, unpracticed wisdom is just informed foolishness. I don’t want to be an informed fool. I want to be a man of wisdom, and I want our marriage to be marked by wisdom in practice.
I hope you’ll want to do the same, and I’m convinced that reading through Proverbs will convict you with the same sweet conviction we’ve felt. I guess you’ll just have to read through Proverbs and see for yourself.
Do you have any favorite verses in Proverbs that you apply to your marriage? Please share in the comments!
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Have you heard of the The 31-Day Pursuit Challenge?
Every marriage begins with passion, purpose, and pursuit, but few stay that way. That’s why we wrote Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit Together, they make what we’re calling the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge. Couples are encouraged take the challenge together. We’re already starting to hear stories of transformed marriages! Are you up for the challenge?