(Photo courtesy of Rachel Mosler)
The Virtuous Bride
By Kyle Jane Heskett
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.”
– Proverbs 12:4 (NKJV)
Wives often do not realize how much power they have in their marriage. American society has taught that a husband needs to be the tough one in the household, the strongest and practically bulletproof. However, the bible teaches us that a godly wife is extremely strong. She is the crown of her husband and her role is more valuable than riches. Let’s seek to understand her and the impact she has on her husband and marriage as a whole.
The husband may be called to be the spiritual leader of the household, but the wife is called to be his encourager, his support, and his confidant. Proverbs 31:11 says the “heart of her husband safely trusts her.” In John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, he states that an excellent wife in Proverbs 12:4 is one that honors her husband, is loving and diligent, and one that is faithful. She also resists sin, reflects Christ, and has courage. She is virtuous. Like I said before, a wife has a powerful and strong role!
How does this description of an excellent wife make her the crown of her husband? Have you heard the expression that behind every great man is a great woman? I don’t know where that expression came from, but I like it, because it inspires me to try and be the wife my husband needs. This doesn’t mean that I stand on the sidelines, just waiting for my husband to need me. Far from it! I fight against sin with my husband, seek to love others with my husband, and war for my marriage with my husband. But as my husband learns more about the type of man God wants him to be and as he steps out in obedience to that call, I need to be there to encourage him, believe in him, and be his helper. He will make mistakes and fail at times, but I need to be one who shows mercy and support, not one who points the finger. A wife that is the crown to her husband also brings him incredible joy. The Pulpit Commentary points out that the crown is glorifying, similar to a crown worn by a bridegroom at his wedding during biblical times and garlands worn at feasts. It is a symbol of celebration. An excellent wife is worth celebrating and loving. She is a jewel and meant to be cherished!
Proverbs 12:4 also warns against the wife who is not excellent, comparing her to rottenness to the bones. She poisons her husband, reduces his substance, and causes him grief. Yikes! The shame this verse refers to is most likely disgraceful conduct, such as sexual immorality or acting without any wisdom. A wife who brings shame to her husband is one he cannot trust, draw comfort from, or be a teammate with. I think a wife should ask herself if what she is saying or doing would make her husband proud, and if it reflects Christ. Sometimes the effects of a wife’s misconduct are not always obvious at first and it can be hard to understand the impact her actions can have. I think it is important to trust the Lord in the way He designed a wife to be that even when we do not understand the gravity of our actions, He is protecting us with His instruction and wants to bless us when we act in obedience.
Wives, you will make mistakes in your marriage. I know I have! Your husband will also make mistakes that might make you feel like he doesn’t deserve respect or encouragement. But an excellent wife is not one who draws on her own abilities or understanding to be the crown of her husband. She relies on the Lord as her strength. The more she understands Christ’s unconditional love and grace the more she is able to show forgiveness and mercy to her husband and to herself when mistakes are made. Embrace that strength inside you!