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An excellent wife is the crown of her husband...

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Biblical Wisdom

Proverbs 12:4 – “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is as rottenness in his bones.”

by Dr. Bill Edgar, Geneva College Board of Trustees Member, Former Geneva College President and longtime pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA)

Marriage is a life-long covenant between a man and a woman to live as one flesh, for their mutual benefit, and for the bearing of children. In contemporary Greek, the term for spouse, “yoke fellow,” etymologically, pictures animals yoked together to plow a field. Husband and wife, yoked together in marriage, should always pull together. My wife’s favorite sentence from me to our children was, “What did your mother say?” Since a father addresses his son in Proverbs, this proverb is stated from the man’s perspective. A mother could write similar proverbs to her daughter.

The ideal wife in Proverbs is loyal, merry, capable, and strong, the perfect helper for her man. For more than one man, his wife is the best thing he has going for him, refusing to use his weaknesses as an excuse for not fulfilling her marriage vows. What does it mean that she is the “crown” of her husband? Like a crown on a king’s head, she signals to everyone that they should honor and respect this man. She makes her family rich (Proverbs 31), while she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33), encouraging her children and others to do the same.

But a wife who shames her husband as a runaround (Proverbs 2:16-17), a busybody (I Timothy 5:13 about widows, but the point stands), or a harridan (Proverbs 25:24) is like cancer in his bones, as in tooth decay, where a cavity slowly weakens a tooth until it falls out. A wife who shames her man eventually leaves him a hollow shell of what he might have been, just like a worthless fool of a husband often leaves his wife both destitute and worn out before her time.

What should the unmarried conclude from this proverb? Choose wisely. Sadly, youth lack wisdom. So maybe the older and presumably wiser parents should choose, as in many cultures? Except father and mother may well aim to further goals other than their children’s good! So where does an excellent wife come from? “House and wife are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD (Proverbs 19:14).” So the wise youth who wishes to marry should pray earnestly for an excellent wife, and she for a godly husband.

Marriage is for better or worse, richer or poorer. If you are married “for better,” thank the Lord. If you are married “for worse,” remember your wedding vows and make the best of it. Just as wise Abigail found herself married to the rich fool Nabal, and David’s soldier Uriah, the Hittite of unwavering integrity, got Bathsheba for a wife, so God for His own purposes calls some to live with a shaming wife or a useless man. But an excellent wife is a crown to her husband. Happy such a man!

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Opinions expressed in the Geneva Blog are those of its contributors and do not necessarily represent the opinions or official position of the College. The Geneva Blog is a place for faculty and contributing writers to express points of view, academic insights, and contribute to national conversations to spark thought, conversation, and the pursuit of truth, in line with our philosophy as a Christian, liberal arts institution.

Jun 1, 2018