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The Godly Wife

This podcast mini-series is about selecting a mate from the wisdom of the book of


Many of the marriages in the Bible are less than ideal. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, has

always struck me as being cranky and bossy. Job’s wife offered little comfort in

the midst of his trials. In fact, it might have been considered a blessing for her to

have been taken in one of the disasters that wiped out his children and his flocks.

One of the most pathetic marriages in the Old Testament is that of Abigail and her

husband Nabal, described in 1 Samuel 25. She was wise and beautiful, while he

was harsh and evil (1 Sam. 25:3). As his name indicated, he was a fool (25:25). I

doubt that Abigail had much to say in the choice of this man as her husband. The

tragedy of this marriage is turned around in the account recorded in 1 Samuel 25,

however, for the Lord takes the life of Nabal and Abigail becomes the David’s


For the one unfortunate enough to have married a fool, Proverbs offers no

promises of an easy life or a quick cure. The assumption throughout the book is

that a person must live with his or her mistake in marriage. Divorce is never

mentioned as the solution for a foolish decision concerning a mate. The picture

painted of such a marriage is deliberately bleak.

One might think that the authors of Proverbs were somewhat cynical about

marriage, having much more to say about its dangers than its delights. We must

remember, however, that this book was written primarily to young men (“my

son,” cf. 1:8; 2:1; 3:1) who had not yet married. One purpose of Proverbs is to

urge young men to consider their life’s mate carefully, since the consequences of

a wrong choice are both painful and permanent.

Marriage is the norm so far as Proverbs is concerned. The single life is nowhere

presented as an alternative (such as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 7). Marriage is

viewed as a divine institution, and it is God who gives a man a virtuous wife.

"House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is

from the Lord." (19:14)

A great little proverb to think through. I can leave my children an inheritance of

accumulated things but there are certain things that only God will provide.

A man’s choice of a life’s mate can be his making or his breaking. It can be

either a delight or a disaster.

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord."


"It is better to live in a desert land, Than with a contentious and vexing

woman." (21:19)

"A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are

alike; He who would restrain her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with

his right hand." (27:15-16)

The potential of a wife for good or evil is summed up in the words of this

proverb: “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames

him is as rottenness in his bones.” (12:4)

The Importance of Character Traits

Proverbs teaches us a principle--a man who marries well, will choose his life’s

mate on the basis of her character, not on the basis of her looks or her personality.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord,

she shall be praised." (31:30)

The Character Traits of a Godly Wife

Some may not realize that the traits of a good friend relate to the character of one’s mate,

but a little reflection shows why this must be so. So we would encourage you to hear our two

podcasts on biblical friendships when considering a spouse.

The breaking of the marriage covenant is a sin against a companion, a close and intimate


That leaves the companion of her youth, And forgets the covenant of her God. (2:17)

The term rendered “companion” here is used elsewhere (cf. 16:28; 17:9; Ps. 55:13)

for the closest of friends. If my mate is not a friend, what is she? And yet some have foolishly chosen to marry one who fails to qualify even as a friend. We will briefly summarize the qualities of a good friend, considering also the characteristics of those with whom we should avoid


Proverbs is most specific with regard to the qualities of a godly wife.

These are highlighted by contrasting the moral flaws of a woman who is far from virtuous.


1. Godliness begins with a proper relationship to God. A godly wife is, first

and foremost, a woman who fears God.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord,

she shall be praised." (31:30)

To not have this primary quality is to be walking into failure from the beginning.

The only path toward wisdom is the fear of God. No bride will be perfect,

there will be things they need to grow in, but this should be a non-negotiable.

In contrast, the woman to avoid is the one who does not know or fear God.

She is sometimes referred to as a “strange woman,” that is a foreigner, one who has

no knowledge of the God of Israel. (cf. 2:25; 5:3,20; 7:5)

She has no grasp of the way of the Lord.

She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it (5:6).

To keep you from the evil woman, From the smooth tongue of the adulteress. (6:24)


You will recall that wisdom is personified as a woman in the Book of Proverbs

(cf. 1:20-33; 8:1-36; 9:1-6). So also the ideal wife is characterized as a woman of wisdom.

The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands (14:1).

She sees that the home is where she begins and defines her ministry.

It is not a hindrance, it is a ministry field.

She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue (31:26). She is a person who grows in her knowledge of God so that she might speak wisdom.

Not mere head knowledge, but words that heal and instruct.

The opposite of the godly woman is the woman of folly.

The woman of folly is boisterous, She is naive, and knows nothing. (9:13)

She likes to talk. She wants to be heard. But in the end she has nothing to offer.

As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion (11:22).

Here it is a picture of how knowledge by itself is not enough and is out of place with a woman who lacks sound judgment.


A man who has married a godly wife has a wife who will bring honor to him.

She is truly a helper to her husband.

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is as rottenness in his bones (12:4). A good wife does not disappear in the background of the household.

She becomes the shining example of godliness and honor.

But she can also destroy him if she does not embrace her call to honor him.

"The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good and not evil All the days of her life." (31:11-12)

The ways a wife gains and honors the husband’s trust are many but it is also a

treasure to guard.

An ungodly wife humiliates and harasses her husband. She is not a helper

but a hindrance to her mate. She is “as rottenness in his bones.” (12:4)

By her haranguing, she makes him miserable:

"A foolish son is destruction to his father, And the contentions of a wife are

a constant dripping." (19:13)


One reason honor is given the godly woman is that she is known for her graciousness.

"A gracious woman attains honor, And violent men attain riches."


The ungodly woman is spoken of in very unbecoming terms.

She is vexing, due to her contentious nature:

"It is better to live in a corner of a roof, Than in a house shared with

a contentious woman." (21:9; cf. 25:24)

"It is better to live in a desert land, Than with a contentious and

vexing woman." (21:19)


This is most clearly shown by contrast with the woman of folly who is an adulteress.

"To deliver you from the strange woman, From the adulteress who

flatters with her words; That leaves the companion of her youth,

And forgets the covenant of her God." (2:16-17)

"To keep you from the evil woman, From the smooth tongue of the

adulteress." (6:24)

“Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning; Let us delight

ourselves with caresses For the man is not at home. . . ” (7:18-19)

While it is not stated explicitly, it is implied and assumed that a godly wife

is one who maintains sexual purity. She is a woman who is virtuous or

excellent (31:10), in whom her husband has complete trust (31:11). She

does her husband only good and not evil (31:12). She teaches her son the

virtues of sexual purity (31:3). Certainly she is a woman of sexual purity.


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