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INTRODUCTION TO PROVERBS CHAPTER 14
We all are tempted to put the best possible spin on things related to us, but Solomon teaches us that sincerity—genuineness, all the way down—is important. God knows what we are like on the inside, and people will find out. These verses in Proverbs show us that God sees below the surface, that he sees through feigned sacrifice, and therefore, the wise will see through duplicity.
Wives Build Up Their Household
Proverbs 14:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
14 The wisest of women builds her house,
but the foolish tears it down with her hands.
This proverb shows just how a wise or foolish woman (wife) can wield a good or bad influence on her family. A spiritually wise, hardworking, conscientious, productive, and prudent wife, by the wise organization of her household, encourages and supports the family’s wellbeing. She plays a crucial, really essential role as she assists in the religious education of the children, caring for the household, and working with her husband. The opposite is true of the foolish, mocking, rude, and irresponsible wife. Though the husband of the foolish wife may be hardworking and sensible, his household will not prosper because she squanders time and thus their success. She does not care for her family, only herself, and the spirituality of the household is sadly neglected. She has, in reality, torn the house down and it has collapsed on top of them! The young man looking for a wife must be very cautious and choose wisely if he desires to build a happy home.
The wisest of women builds her house: It is not likely that women in the time of Proverbs being authored by Solomon were building houses. However, 14:1a is not meant to be taken literally but rather the basic idea that a wise woman is a solid foundation behind her morally upright household. The woman is responsible for working hard on behalf of her household, which would bring honor to her husband and the family. This is what brought her joy.
but the foolish tears it down with her hands: The foolish (אִוֶּלֶת ivveleth) wife lacks good judgment, so she does not speak well of her husband, which causes others to lose respect for him, and this has caused him to take no delight in the wife.
An excellent, admirable, commendable wife works for the good of her household. In contrast with this, the foolish wife has no respect for the husband as the head of the house. The wise wife does not carry the attitude of defiance, rebelliousness, and an independent spirit that characterizes the world. Instead, she is in submission to her husband, like man is in submission to Christ. (Eph. 2:2) A foolish wife speaks badly about her husband, while the wise wife works hard to buildup respect for him so that the children and community will respect him. This wise wife does not spend her time nagging her husband, arguing with him, or talking down to him, as it will only undermine the husband’s headship. When it comes to the household’s economy, the wise wife is cautious about the household funds, while the foolish wife wastes and misuses her family’s hard-earned finances.
The wise wife respects God’s Word, so she also respects that the Bible has placed her husband as the head of the household. (1 Corinthians 11:3) She does not find herself being influenced by the Satanic independent spirit of the world and the feminist movement. (Ephesians 2:2) Rather, the wise wife knows that she is in submission to her husband, so she speaks well of him, increasing his respect in the family and the community. A truly wise wife provides the success and stability of her household. On the other hand, the foolish woman lacks respect for God’s setting up man as the head of the household. She is quick to speak ill of her husband and challenges his every word. As a result, the household is lacking, which causes the children to suffer physically and spiritually. Yes, the foolish woman (wife) tears down her household.
We should pause and note that the husband’s authority over his wife is not absolute. We can consider the wife’s subjection to the husband as a Christian subject to the superior governing authorities. The apostle Paul said, “Let every soul be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God, and those that exist have been placed by God.” (Rom. 13:1) Yet, as Christian, while we obey the laws of the land, it is in conjunction with the Word of God. If any governmental authority asks us to do something that breaks God’s law, we obey what Peter and the apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Ac 5:29) Similarly, the wife is in subjection to her husband unless he is asking something of her that is against the Word of God.
God is not left out of the equation. He is the supreme authority that everyone is submissive or subject to, which, in turn, means that a husband’s authority over his wife and of parents over their children is relative, not absolute. What does that mean? It means that the husband, the wife, and the children owe their obedience to God first, obeying his Word above all else. Thus, if a husband asks his wife or a parent asks their children to do something that is contrary to God’s Word, the wife can ignore the husband, and the children can ignore the parents.
1 Corinthians 11:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn, the head of a woman is the man; in turn, the head of the Christ is God.
The head of a woman is the man: This is the same Greek word that was used in Ephesians 5:23. Thus, for emphasis, we will repeat this information too. The Greek word (κεφαλή kephalē) rendered head in this verse, and this context refers to the husband who is in charge (care, responsibility, control) of the wife and the family. It means that he is superior because he has the greater authority and power within the husband-wife relationship. It does not mean that he is superior in the sense of humanity, as though men are somehow superior to women.
The wife should feel and know that the husband is primarily concerned with her best interest and will always consider her views, evidencing that he values her voice in all matters. He will ensure that he listens to her, and if her view is correct, he will wisely take that course. A husband will demonstrate and express his love and respect for his wife when he carries out his Godly assigned position as the head of the family. (John 13:34) The husband might be imperfect and fallible, but if he follows in the example of Jesus Christ, he will have a wife who loves and respects him.