The book of Proverbs addresses some of the most practical aspects of life. From handling finances to dealing with people, its inspired wisdom offers meaningful insight to all willing to listen. However, one of the interesting observations available in a book largely written by a man whose home life left much to be desired pertains to marriage—and the value of a good wife in particular. Solomon offers several of these statements throughout the book, encouraging his son and others who will read to “rejoice with the wife of your youth” (Prov. 5:18b), loving her and giving her your devotion in every way. However, this is much easier when you choose a wife wisely. He notes, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Prov. 18:22a), but this principle also assumes wisdom in the choosing for he later qualifies this by saying, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Prov. 12:4a). In Proverbs 19 he includes yet another description, but this time he cites a very specific characteristic by which a woman distinguishes herself as an excellent choice for marriage: “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the LORD” (Prov. 19:14).
Not very many people use the word “prudent” today. In fact, most would have trouble defining it. But this problem lies partially in the verbal territory covered by the word, both in English and in Hebrew. It includes the ideas of paying careful attention to detail, showing insight due to thoughtfulness, acting with appreciation for the potential consequences, and thinking a matter through to ensure success. Thus, one might define prudence as the combination of intelligence and common sense—the ability to think with practicality of purpose. With such a description, surely all can appreciate why a woman who possesses such qualities would be valuable to any husband! And yet we find a two-fold problem in today’s society. First, the world pushes women of intelligence and sense to focus on themselves and a career rather than on a husband and a home. Second, insecure men feel threatened by intelligent women instead of appreciating what they have to offer. However, the Bible placed value on such women millennia before the world began to recognize such—in its distorted and egocentric way—in commending the prudent wife, noting four specific areas in which her intelligence shines.
A prudent wife has educational intelligence because she has both an interest and a mind to learn (Prov. 1:3). She may hold several degrees or none, but her ability to take in information, digest it thoroughly, and apply it properly offers evidence of a capable mind—able to provide meaningful insight and good advice to her husband because she has a knowledge all her known that offers important perspective for a husband willing to listen. A prudent wife also possesses practical intelligence. She is a woman who thinks ahead (Prov. 10:5). Rather than simply reacting emotionally to her circumstances or being surprised by natural consequences, she anticipates them and prepares accordingly. By considering the potential problems involved with any given decision, she avoids many issues simply by employing forethought (Prov. 15:24). She further applies this skill in day to day life, thinking before she speaks (Prov. 16:23) and thus proving herself skilled at diffusing conflict and benefiting others because of her persistence in considering others before engaging them. Third, a prudent wife displays social intelligence. She consistently builds up relationships through her interactions with others rather than tearing them down or even taking them for granted (Prov. 17:2). Through a combination of observation and empathy, she understands people and their roles (Prov. 14:35), demonstrating respect and care with quiet confidence and resolve. She knows both how and when being quiet is proper and beneficial (Prov. 10:19), knowing when to offer an opinion and when to listen. But above all, a prudent wife shows spiritual intelligence. She is spiritually minded and brings that perspective to all that she does (Prov. 16:20). God reigns first in her life, first in her marriage, first in her family, and first in her heart. Because of this, her educational intelligence, her practical intelligence, and her social intelligence all combine to focus on the things of God for the benefit of all around her.
A prudent wife is a blessing to her husband far beyond the income she receives or the benefits she can bestow. She creates an environment in the home that welcomes all with godliness, encourages her family in their spiritual walk, and provides comfort and serenity because prudence has built such trust in her relationships. It is no wonder that Proverbs ends with a tribute to such a woman as this: “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies” (Prov. 31:10). If you do indeed find such a woman, as I have, treasure her dearly. If you a man not yet married, seek her relentlessly. If you are a young woman, aspire to be her consistently. And if you are already a prudent wife, may God bless you.