“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4
We’ve been studying through Deuteronomy at my church on Sunday mornings. This past Sunday we looked at chapter 17. The pastor landed on verses 16-17 for a while: “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses… And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.” He made the point that men are still drawn to these things: toys, women, and riches. (He said “Weapons, Women and Wealth” but that’s just too alliterative for me.) Kings have fallen due to the temptations in these three realms (see King Solomon in 1 Kings 11:1-13) and they seem to be as much a common struggle for men in the present as they were in history.
I don’t know much about toys or riches; I have nothing to offer in those realms but I am, in fact, a woman and know many other women as well. So I’ve been thinking about the influence that women have over men for either good or evil. One of my favorite influential women in the Old Testament is Abigail (1 Samuel 25). She was married to a worthless man, Nabal, who was “harsh and behaved badly.” When David was in the wilderness he protected Nabal’s sheep while they were out in the fields. Then he sent some messengers to ask for provisions since a holy feast day was coming up. Nabal refused and mocked him. Abigail, on hearing this from a servant, took provisions and met David on his way to destroy Nabal and the men of his household. She influenced David not to proceed with his plan. She was good to Nabal even though he didn’t deserve it or even realize it, and she stopped David from bloodguilt. The Scripture says she was “discerning and beautiful”; she wisely used her powers for good.
Contrast that to Job’s wife. After suffering all that they had lost together—children, servants, livestock—she told Job to “curse God and die”(Job 2:9-10). She had no kind words for her husband, no help or prayers, no comfort, no hope. She unfortunately used her powers for evil. There are numerous other examples in Scripture that show the influence that women have over men to either spur them on for good or for evil. I use the word “influence” deliberately because men are free to choose as they wish and are completely responsible for their actions. But womanly “wiles” are a well-documented and undeniable fact.
So I wanted to give some sisterly advice to my brothers so that they may be better equipped to wisely choose a woman who will do them good. When you are interested in a woman observe her for a time before you jump in with both feet. Looks can be deceiving. She may not be as beautiful as you think.
- Pray (a lot)! Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and discernment.
- Enlist some older wiser couples to help you decide. Ask mutual acquaintances about her.
- Does she love Jesus? Does she love others? Is she real and genuine?
- Will she be a help or a hindrance? Job’s wife was apparently more useful to Satan alive than she would have been if she had been in the tent with his children (Thanks to Dr. Jeremy Evans for this bit of wisdom).
- How does she act toward her friends, toward strangers, toward service workers? Who does she hang out with? Who are her close friends? Are they good people?
- Does she nag or pitch a fit when she doesn’t get her way? Is she argumentative? “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman” (Prov 21:19) or “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” (Prov 21:9 & 25:24!)
- Is she prone to rants or gossip? (“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” Prov 11:22)
- Does she listen to you? Does she pay attention to what you say or just talk about the things that interest her?
Now ladies, you’re probably thinking “Yeah, that’s right. You tell ‘em.” But let me ask you…how would those questions be answered of you? Would you be a help or a hindrance? Would a relationship with you draw someone closer to Jesus or lead them farther away? Would you pave the way to worship of idols or would you point them to Christ as you are running hard yourself in that direction?
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12