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The Immoral Woman and the Virtuous Wife: An Overlooked Contrast in Proverbs

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

The Book of Proverbs provides many warnings against infidelity. For example:

Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman,

from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman.

She has abandoned her husband

and ignores the covenant she made before God.

Entering her house leads to death;

it is the road to the grave.

The man who visits her is doomed.

He will never reach the paths of life. (Proverbs 2:16-19)

For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,

and her mouth is smoother than oil.

But in the end she is as bitter as poison,

as dangerous as a double-edged sword.

Her feet go down to death;

her steps lead straight to the grave. (Proverbs 5:3-5)

An adulterous woman consumes a man,

then wipes her mouth and says, “What’s wrong with that?” (Proverbs 30:20)

Indeed, a warning against adultery appears in at least 9 chapters of Proverbs. Breaking the marriage commitment is not only a sin against God and a violation of the 7th Commandment, it is described as a sure way to doom oneself.

Yet these passages are not offered simply to warn men against engaging in sexual affairs. These verses are also setting the groundwork for an upcoming contrast and comparison. The selfish sinner is exemplified by the immoral woman (especially as she is presented in Proverbs 7). The servant of God is highlighted in Proverbs chapter 31. Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?

She is more precious than rubies.

Her husband can trust her,

and she will greatly enrich his life.

She brings him good, not harm,

all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12)

Now why is it that this woman is considered virtuous? It's not because she looks like a fashion model, or that she is persuasive with her words. Proverbs 31:30 tells us, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised." The point is clear. The virtuous wife fears God.

Proverbs chapter 1 verse 7, tells us, "Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge..." It then travels through 30 additional chapters, providing advice and warnings about a variety of topics. Along the way it often highlights the problematic behavior of an immoral woman. Then in chapter 31, at the end of the Book of Proverbs, it provides us with her opposite. It shows us what the fear of the Lord looks like.

Chapter 31 is not simply tagged on to the end of Proverbs. The virtuous wife is a demonstration of what it means to submit to God and to live in a way that pleases Him. In other words, she is a practical example of how one fears God.

For this week, I encourage you to read and reflect on the differences between these two types of women. What motives and items are connected to the immoral woman in Proverbs 7, and what behaviors and values are demonstrated by the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31? What might these passages be teaching you?

(Photo Credit: Wix media)

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