Proverbs 12:4

Proverbs 12:4 "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones."
Proverbs 12:4 Elma NY Christian Church
While the past few chapters have been full of proverbs appealing to a general audience, this particular proverb is a reminder that many of Solomon’s proverbs were geared to his son. That being said, this proverb still applies to both men and women, young and old alike.

It shouldn’t have to be said but because of the present state of our society, the fact that men and women are incredibly different must be understood if we are to understand this proverb.  One could change the structure of the proverb to contain gender-neutral pronouns and still find truth in it but that is not what God inspired Solomon to write.  This is not a proverb of instruction to a husband on how he is to treat his wife.  Solomon is not telling his son or husbands in general to treat wives as they would a crown.  He is informing his son and anyone else who would listen that a woman with virtue will be viewed as a crown by her husband while a woman without virtue will be perceived in the same grieving light as arthritis.  This proverb is the simple conclusion of what Solomon knew about marriage and of what he witnessed in society.

While both men and women pursue marriage based on physical attraction, it is indisputable that men value physical attraction much more than women.  When LOOKING for love, men rely heavily on their EYES.  Women tend to be smarter and more thoughtful when looking for love because they don’t rely so heavily on their eyes.  A woman still wants a good-looking man with a good set of teeth, the right height, good hygiene and a little fashion but she uses more than her eyes when looking for love.  A woman uses her ears and listens to what a man says before pursuing marriage.  A woman also uses her intuition and her highly complicated mind to assess, vet, question and contemplate a man before considering marriage.  It’s not that men don’t do those things either; it’s just that they put a lot more stock into what they see than in what they don’t see.  Solomon wanted his son and any young men listening to him to look for more than external beauty – he wanted them to look for virtue.
 
It’s hard to be pretty in a world where beauty if worshipped.  For a pretty woman, it’s hard to stay faithful to one man when you know the bulging eyes of all men are always watching you.  For a pretty woman, it’s hard to stay humble when everyone tells you how beautiful you are.  For a pretty woman, the mirror is always feeding you lies that your value is in your beauty.  For these and plenty of other reasons, a beautiful woman has a harder time becoming and remaining a virtuous woman.  This is why many beautiful women get caught up in affairs, divorces, pride, vanity and many other unholy pitfalls.  Too many men have learned this unfortunate fact too late.  Our world is riddled with men who chose a wife based on her beauty, only to find that her beauty was her greatest problem because of what it did to her soul.  Many older men learn that beauty is only worth marrying if it is accompanied by character.  Life can be hard and long for a man if married to a beautiful woman void of virtue.  This is no secret with vocalists like Jimmy Soul singing about in 1963, singing:  
If you want to be happy for the rest of your life,
Never make a pretty woman your wife. 
So from my personal point of view, 
Get an ugly girl to marry you.


Solomon is not dismissing physical beauty or physical attraction in a marital relationship.  He is merely exalting virtue over all other considerations when it comes to finding a wife.  This proverb is not only counseling men to look beyond the body of a woman but it is also informing a woman that what men look for is not always what men need.  Because of the obnoxious manner of men, women easily get the impression that men only care about how a woman looks.  When a woman thinks that that is all a man cares about, then she will focus on looking good rather than on being good.  This misguided focus always becomes a legitimate problem in a marriage.  Men LOVE beauty but they NEED honor.  Men LOVE beauty but they NEED trust.  Men love what they see but they need to be treated with respect.  Because men don’t communicate this to their wives, women don’t understand why their husbands aren’t attracted to their beauty after years of looking so nicely.  Solomon knew how God designed us – he knew that beauty attracts a man’s eye but virtue keeps a man’s heart.
 
Marriages fall apart or become unhealthy and unhappy for a million different reasons but arguably, the main reason is because men and women don’t take the time to understand the differences between the sexes.  What we WANT in marriage and what we NEED in marriage are two very different things.  We pursue what we want until we realize that what we want is rarely what we need.  We know what we need when we don’t get it.  Men want a beautiful wife but they need a virtuous wife.  Men want a beautiful wife to look at but they need a virtuous wife to live with.  Beauty doesn’t truly satisfy a man, especially when those beautiful lips speak very poorly and negatively.  Beauty doesn’t make a man truly happy, especially when that beautiful body sits around and does nothing but complain.  Beauty doesn’t make a man feel truly accomplished, especially when that beautiful face gossips and stirs trouble everywhere it goes.

In this proverb, Solomon wanted men to know what would bring them lifelong pleasure in a marriage.  He wanted men to know what was most important in a wife.  He wanted men to know how they would feel later in life if they married a woman with virtue versus how they would feel at the same time if they married a woman without virtue.  In this proverb, Solomon wanted women to know how men would feel about them if they were unkind with their words or without joy in their demeaner, no matter how well they took care of their bodies.  He wanted women to know how men would feel about them if they were lazy at home or contentious in church, no matter how beautiful they were.  

Young men look for beautiful women and when they marry them, they like to show them off like trophies.  If that beautiful woman lacks virtue, that man quickly becomes ashamed of who he married.  He tries to keep her from certain people and he finds himself secretly apologizing for her to friends and family.  The older a man gets, the more he values virtue.  When I talk to widowers, they don’t shy away from acknowledging that they miss the physical nature of their wives and all that comes with it but they always talk about their wives’ character.  I often will ask what they appreciated the most about their wife and I have yet to hear, “her beauty.”  They will tell me that their wife was beautiful but the things they value the most are all beyond the beauty.  When the marriage is all over, most men will tell me that they miss her FRIENDSHIP.  Men will tell me that they appreciated her listening ear or that they talked about everything together.  Men LOVE beauty but they NEED companionship.  A woman that offers loving, respectful and kind companionship will be cherished like a crown.  A woman that offers disrespect, cruel words and constant criticism will be loathed like arthritis.
 
Men don’t realize it early in life and women have a hard time seeing it throughout life but what a man needs is not always what a man wants.  If a wife has virtue, a man will learn to cherish it like a crown, especially when the beauty fades.  Proverbs 31:30, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she SHALL BE praised.”

Gentlemen, if you want to be happy for the rest of your lives, make a virtuous woman your wife!  Ladies, if you want to be valued as a crown rather than be viewed like arthritis, make virtue your priority.  A man loves your beauty but he needs your respectful companionship.

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