Women: Themes in Proverbs III

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Introduction:

The image for wisdom in Proverbs is overwhelmingly feminine—but so is folly. The book of Proverbs is dedicated to teaching young men to walk up rightly, and this means taking women into account, women of both kinds. Women must learn from the book of Proverbs also, but need to do it in reverse. Don’t be the kind of woman that godly fathers and mothers are warning their sons about.plant-from-bible

The Text:

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: But the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” (Proverbs 14:1)

Summary of the Text:

The wise woman and the foolish woman have this in common—they are both women, which means that they both do their work in distinctively feminine ways. Edification is feminine, and so is the opposite of edification.  The wise woman is a woman who builds her house. The foolish woman gives her task her personal attention as well, and tears her house apart with her own hands.

Preliminaries:

There are distinctively feminine temptations and sins. They do exist; they are a reality. And we live in a time when to say something like this is considered to be an outrage, an attack upon all women everywhere. If you say that certain sins are distinctively feminine, you are heard to be saying that all women are distinctively sinful, which is absurd.

But this automatic indignation has the effect of preventing women as women from receiving exhortation, admonition or rebuke, which is simply a way of denying them pastoral care.

But the reality is this. Distinctively feminine sin is a parody of something that is also distinctively feminine, which is to say, wisdom. A distinctively pearl-like necklace would not be possible without real pearls. And to attack fake pearls is not to attack pearls.

So let us begin with the two main feminine caricatures or parodies—seductiveness and shrewishness.

Women Strange:

As a book of instruction for young men, it is not surprising that a lot of time is spent on warning them against those denizens of countless rock songs, the kind of women who promise you a great time “all night long.”

She tarts herself up in order to flatter with her tongue and flutter with her eyes.

“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; And reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep thee from the evil woman, From the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; Neither let her take thee with her eyelids.” (Prov. 6:23–25).

She is a woman who forgets the covenant. She forgets her upbringing as well. And note again how she flatters.

“When wisdom entereth into thine heart, And knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, Understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, From the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, To walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, And delight in the frowardness of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, And they froward in their paths: To deliver thee from the strange woman, Even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, And forgetteth the covenant of her God.” (Prov. 2:10–17).

She is not aware that she is a set of walking incongruities, an aesthetic and moral oxymoron.

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, So is a fair woman which is without discretion” (Prov. 11:22).

She finds the existence of an almighty and holy God an inconvenience. When she is beautiful enough, she finds it easy to persuade idiot men of the same doctrine.

“Such is the way of an adulterous woman; She eateth, and wipeth her mouth, And saith, I have done no wickedness” (Prov. 30:20).

Women Out of Temper:

We can see that immorality is a real snare for men by how often it is mentioned. We can draw a similar conclusion from how often a contentious women is mentioned. Don’t marry anyone who has the potential to become that.

It is better to live in a teeny loft alone than in a spacious mansion with a woman who will find you in any corner of it.

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, Than with a brawling woman in a wide house” (Prov. 21:9; see also 25:4).

For another comparison, it is better to go out and live in a hovel in the woods than with a contentious and angry woman.

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and an angry woman.” (Prov. 21:19).

If your roof leaks, you can sometimes fix it. But a very rainy day just keeps on coming, and so does a woman with disputation on her mind. Trying to fix it is like trying to gather up the wind with both arms, as though it were a bundle of sticks. Or to take up oil in your right hand and clench it tight, as though it were a single stick. Good luck to you.

“A continual dropping in a very rainy day And a contentious woman are alike. Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind, And the ointment of his right hand, which bewrayeth itself” (Prov. 27:15–16).

Women True:

In our time, the temptation is to start choosing up sides, as though such observations were unfair to women generally, as though men were all on one side, and women all on the other. But the actual state of affairs is the prudent men and women are on one side, and foolish men and women are on the other.

Women gather honor over time, the way men accumulate wealth.

“A gracious woman retaineth honour: And strong men retain riches” (Prov. 11:16).

A virtuous woman is the best thing that a mortal man could possibly have. But note the second half of the proverb. In this world, there is no honor without the possibility of dishonor. If you outlaw dishonor, because it make somebody feel bad, what you have in effect done is mandated dishonor for all women across the board.

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: But she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones” (Prov. 12:4).

A good woman is the grace of God to a man.

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, And obtaineth favour of the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).

Note again the domestic affliction of a woman who is a continual dripping. But the contrast to this is, again, the grace of God.

“A foolish son is the calamity of his father: And the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping. House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: And a prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov. 19:13–14).

The Virtuous Woman:

The Proverbs 31 woman has become . . . well, proverbial. But let us take a moment and consider what is actually involved in being prized far above rubies. She is reliable. She is an artisan, working with her hands. She shops long distance, like a merchant ship. She is a true cook. She is involved in real estate. She is engaged in agricultural, planting a vineyard. She weaves and sews and tailors. She is wise, and can explain what she has been doing. Everyone in her family knows her worth, and is eager to talk about it.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, So that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil All the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, And worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; She bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, And giveth meat to her household, And a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: With the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, And strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: Her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, And her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; Yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; Her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, When he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; And delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; And she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; And in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, And eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, But thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: But a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; And let her own works praise her in the gates” (Prov. 31:10–31).

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insanitybytes22
Member

I can see the beauty in those words, but I wonder how many also understand how those words have been distorted and used to justify abuse of women, for so long, and how many women have spoken out and not been heard? How easily Wilson declares it to be absurd that women would ever be what, blamed for the curse of eve? Forever accused of being the root of all evil? Relentlessly blamed for not only our own sins, but the sins of men too? I want to believe the only sides in this war are between the prudent and… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

ME dost protest too much and would profit from a new pair of reading glasses.

insanitybytes22
Member

Actually what me needs to do is to cover her eyes so she can not see all of those so called Christian men endorsing trump and completely ignoring grabbing them by their lady bits while at the same time believing themselves worthy to be preaching to women about virtue.

When Wilson laments women denied pastoral care, I am astounded that he cannot see why that may be.

Wisdom, yeah, she is female alright.

Jane
Member

I believe he understands why that can be. I think his goal is to correct the situation, instead of continually dragging us back to the problem whenever a correction is offered.

John F. Kennedy
Guest
John F. Kennedy

If Trump is guilty of all the things he’s being accused of, he should be executed as soon as his term is up.

John F. Kennedy
Guest
John F. Kennedy

I don’t think he missed it; actually.

Jane
Member

I believe the absurdity refers to the idea that women are distinctively sinful, not to the idea that some would mishear what is being said. How could he call that absurd, when he is saying that is what happens?

I don’t know you can hope that a biblical view of womanhood can ever be preached if, every time Wilson tries to preach it and point out how it’s different from the distortions that occur, you respond that he must not really mean what he says because bad men get it wrong.

insanitybytes22
Member

“…you respond that he must not really mean what he says because bad men get it wrong.”

Ironic, because I wasn’t thinking of “bad men” at all, I was thinking of self righteous moralizing Christian women. Bad men I can handle they’re easy to spot, but the sheer number of women who rather viscously perceive virtue as a competitive war to be launched against their sisters, is simply staggering.

Jane
Member

The point remains the same, then. Because some people get it wrong, Wilson can’t try to make it right because he didn’t magically go back in time and fix it before now.

You are right, it is horrible when people perceive virtue as competitive. Like when we have to decry the lack of virtue in “righteous moralizing Christian women” every time a pastor writes about biblical virtue.

adad0
Member

Ladies, Zooming out to a focus wider than gender, your points touch on the reason that I like to refer to being a Christian as a “humility contest”. ; – ) Here in America an expected response would be: “How do you win a humility contest?” The irony illustrates the point that, if there is a “contest”, there can’t be much humility. (AKA “virtue as competitive”) Uh oh, you just made me think of another slogan: “Help stomp out sanctimony.” As an example of what I think we are all talking about, I recall that our local semi-governmental domestic violence… Read more »

Jennie
Member

“Find your humility movie character. Take this easy quiz.”

Yikes! I’m Ethel Mertz!

adad0
Member

Test: Which movie character are you?

Forrest Gump, ‘Forrest Gump’

The sage idiot, yep, sounds about right! ; – )

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I doubt that, but there are worse things to be!

adad0
Member

Your turn Jilly . Also, there was a great test called “what kind of dog are you?”
‘ Don’t know if there is a similar test for cats. ????

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Actually I tested as Maine Coon. Perhaps that is because I live with a couple of them, but I would certainly have preferred to be my third cat, my Siamese. Maine Coons are huge, fluffy, and doglike, with big feet and high-pitched, soft meows.

But, to my horror, on another test I came out as Melanie rather than Scarlett. I like to think I have too much bite to be a Melanie!

adad0
Member

No surprise that you would be a good mouser! ????????

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

They’re not, actually. Perhaps in the wild forests of Maine where they scooped up fish with their paws. But the domesticated version is scared of everything except their dinner bowls.

adad0
Member

Cape Cod Maine Coon Cats still have a mouse “A” game!

Katecho
Member

My two Maine Coons are both excellent mousers, and even hunt the fields for gophers. They are outside cats though.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

That probably makes all the difference. Mine are lazy and and self-indulgent like their mother!

drewnchick
Member

Or…”Down with intolerance!”
Or…”Islam is a religion of peace, and we’ll behead anyone who says otherwise!”

ashv
Guest
ashv

My favourite is still the charity golf tournament for an abused-children care program that narrowly escaped having the slogan “Help End Child Abuse By Shooting A Hole In One”.

insanitybytes22
Member

Wilson isn’t going to get it right, he is going to make it worse and he’s going to make it worse because he refuses to identify the problem properly.

adad0
Member

I request a spell out as well Memi.
What is the proper identity of the problem as you see them both?

John F. Kennedy
Guest
John F. Kennedy

No, I don’t think so. He got it right. The place where pastors who get it right in teaching go wrong, is the failure to apply it in pastoral care.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Oh ME, oh my.

Where is your complaint? Wilson gets it wrong is a standard theme, yet your complaints are for years of abuse by nameless Christians. Proverbs is quite clear on the virtuous woman and the foolish women. This sermon is quite clear also.

Both wisdom and folly have feminine traits a point you overlook. So really is your complaint against Proverbs and scripture or just man bashing.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Well, let’s see how that would look. I suppose he could have written: “Proverbs warns men to avoid seductive and contentious women. Proverbs is clearly in error because seductive and contentious women pose no threat to anyone. Proverbs ought to have warned us instead to avoid women whose attempts at maintaining virtuous standards and virtuous conduct might make them seem self-righteous to those who disagree with them.”

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Who are these women, and what do they have to do with Wilson’s explication of scripture? And to what type of “virtue” are you referring? Or is this just a jab at the women here who you don’t like very much? I ask that only because your comment seems to have nothing to do with your main argument, which was that Wilson’s observations seem to you to invite replies from men who think women are sluts.

Jennie
Member

What we are seeing in our election is a reckoning, the revenge of the contentious women.

Can you expand on this, ME? Thanks.

bethyada
Member

I have heard women complain that the Proverbs 31 woman is too much for one woman. But having an ideal to aspire to may not mean one has to attain everything in the ideal. Cannot these attributes be things that different women have. Could a virtuous woman have some of these qualities and not have to have all of them?

We should fight all our specific vices and exhibit all the fruit of the Spirit. But I don’t see that every woman should buy a field, or be an artisan.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

It is far too much for this woman. I was applying it to my day but stopped in a fit of inertia and despair. “She ariseth when she can justify repose not a moment longer, when the UPS man knocketh at the door and the felines three waileth for matutinal sustenance. She looketh at the piles of unclean raiment and kicketh them into a far corner. She grabbeth a handful of Sugar Pops from the empty cupboard and calleth it her evening repast. She tarrieth on the computer quarreling with faceless strangers and watching the panda cam at the National… Read more »

adad0
Member

Well, possibly. But you still have these two:

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; And in her tongue is the law of kindness.

Not to mention the sense of humor! ; – )

Ian Miller
Member

Yea, though she walketh the strange corridors of the online valley of the shadow of death (or at least the alt right/regressive left), she shall fear no evil, for God is with her. :)

Jennie
Member

I read those verses and think, “Father, are You saying I could be that?” It is a message of hope. I fall so short of it and pretend a lot, but before Christ I didn’t even know what to strive for. Now at least I know what beauty looks like.

katie
Guest
katie

I don’t get it either. When we look at Christ, do we get annoyed because we’re expected to look like him and that’s impossible? Why can’t we just love examples of holiness and pray by the Spirit to be made a little more like them day by day?

Edited for the caveat that Christ is so much more than our example, obviously.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Pastor Wilson, again you’ve hit on something that can be drawn from the text with a bit of labor, though I don’t know if it could really be considered the primary intent of the author. But your application appears to be targeted towards the “cool kids” again. I’ve yet to see your comments get filled with Christians celebrating an erasure of masculinity in men or femininity in women. However, self-declared Christians who are also your readers have been making the following statements recently. Is there a strong argument you can make about Biblical masculinity and Biblical femininity that will address… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“Is there a strong argument you can make about Biblical masculinity and Biblical femininity that will address them? Because there are enough of them, believing it strongly enough, that it looks like a real problem.” He just has. He has just misused and perverted scripture in order to reinforce this idea that women are all sluts who lead men astray. He has just used the Proverbs 31 wife as a weapon to erase the meaning of female valor and wisdom, and instead reduce it to nothing more than sexual purity. Rather then edifying and lifting up daughters, sisters, he is… Read more »

ray
Guest
ray

You are Churchianity itself. And like the Spirit of this Age, and of current America, you are Rebellion against God.

insanitybytes22
Member

Something sure is all broken when lunkheads on the internet feel they have the authority to lecture a Christian wife and grandma about rebellion against God. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Of course you won’t be because you’ve swallowed a narrative that has nothing to do with Christ at all.

katie
Guest
katie

Just read this excellent piece from Alistair Roberts, https://calvinistinternational.com/2016/09/13/natural-complementarians-men-women/ He touches on the same theme: “On regular occasions, wives or women are presented as either leading their husbands or other men astray (Eve with Adam, Sarai’s gift of Hagar to Abram, Solomon and his foreign wives, Jezebel with Ahab, Herodias and Herod) or as the wise counsellors of men in their lives (Abigail and David, Bathsheba and David, Esther and Ahasuerus). The book of Proverbs has this principle at its heart: the young man’s quest for the personified Wisdom over her counterpart Folly is paralleled and related with his quest… Read more »

BDash76
Guest
BDash76

I love the current modern Christians that use this passage to teach young men to marry supposedly strong women and be house husbands to wives who are “planting vineyards” and ” purchasing real estate”