Proverbs 12:4: A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.
A virtuous (righteous) woman is a noble, gracious, diligent, and loving woman. She faithfully honours and pleases her husband. He is thankful and rejoices in God’s goodness to him through her. But an unpleasant woman shames her husband and slowly kills him from the inside out by foolishness, selfishness, stubbornness, or unfaithfulness.
Crown is a simple metaphor. A crown honours a person. Kings are given crowns for the honour of their office, and athletes are crowned to honour sporting achievements. A great wife honours her husband by the pleasure and esteem she brings him, and she also crowns his authority by her own submission and that which she requires of her children. A crown is a grand piece of jewellery, and a virtuous woman is such to her husband!
Rottenness in his bones is a simple simile, a comparison that gives itself away by using the word “as.” Bones are the support of the anatomy, and rottenness there is fatal trouble for your body. Ask anyone with advanced leukemia. An unpleasant wife causes horrible grief to a man’s mind and distress to his soul. In public he is ashamed he is married to her, and in private he is deeply wounded in his heart. It is a painful affliction. A woman cannot truly understand it, for she was made for him, not he for her (I Cor 11:9).
Christian woman, humble yourself before this proverb. Forget what you think about yourself. Forget what your mother tells you. Even forget what your husband tells you. His praise is not the measure. That is not nearly good enough. A man who feels martially trapped without a crown of gold may think or say a crown of thorns is good! Especially in a weak moment, when he needs something, or the approval is expected!
Your husband has likely not told you the truth. If you ask him, he still won’t. Consider it. It is hard to deeply criticize a wife, especially in matters as intimate and personal as marriage and your womanhood. Men also fear the consequences of interrupted domestic tranquillity; they resent having to explain the obvious, again; and/or they may not believe it will do any good anyway. He is likely not as pleased as you think.
Stop kidding yourself that you are virtuous. Others know better. Virtue is very objective and visible. Your self-righteous and conceited opinions are deceitful. If you think the criticism too harsh, think about three things. An unpleasant wife is one of the great curses of life (Pr 30:21-23). Internal bone disease is worth a little effort at getting your attention! And saving a man’s life takes desperate measures, especially stopping a murderer! A bad wife is more bitter than death, according to the Preacher (Eccl 7:26)!
The character and conduct that make a woman virtuous are as visible to others as your appearance. A truly gracious woman is highly respected by all others at all times (Pr 11:16). But the stench of the unpleasant woman cannot be hid, no matter what she thinks of herself (Pr 27:15-16). Most people only see the hairy and smelly pig, when told that it has a nose ring of 24k gold (Pr 11:22)! Humble yourself! Let the Preacher teach you something!
Your children also know. They know if their father is rejoicing and content in his wonderful wife, or if he is rotting in his bones for neglect and loneliness. You will cost yourself both sons and daughters, for they will resent you for hurting their father and being so much less than what they want to be, or to have, in a marriage.
What exactly shames a man and rots him from the inside out? A lack of frequent sex, a dirty or cluttered house, too much talking, a lack of creative sex, children neglected physically or emotionally, laziness, a negative and complaining attitude, nagging, poor manners in public, a critical spirit, a lack of reverence, an out of shape body, insubordination, a prudish approach to sex, not enough talking, self-righteousness, a lack of smiling cheerfulness, correcting details, excessive doting on the children, remembering his faults, excitement at getting away by herself, bristling at correction, that she is disliked by others, and a “I’m just fine” attitude.
All these things are clearly condemned and corrected in the Bible. A virtuous woman fears the Lord above all. She seeks to exceed everything the Bible teaches as the standard for great women. See the comments on 31:30. She knows the parts of the Bible sent from God for her. She esteems them, and she does them. A few of these places are Genesis 3:16; I Corinthians 7:1-5; 11:9; Ephesians 5:22-24,33; Titus 2:3-5; I Peter 3:1-6.
A virtuous wife knows God inspired Proverbs 31:10-31 and the Song of Solomon for her. She wants to be her husband’s cheerful and loving companion, the world’s greatest lover, a domestic goddess in household duties, a queen of hospitality and social graces, and the perfect mother of his children, as these two comprehensive passages detail.
There is only one way to be such a woman. Confess your sins to God and your husband; eliminate all bitterness and self-righteousness; repudiate your own ideas and habits; trust the Word of God without question; and cheerfully do everything written in the Bible for women, without any compromise. You and your husband will be far happier for it; your children will be happier; and the LORD of heaven will reward you.
Christian man, there is hope. The Word of God can cure the rottenness in your bones, if you can help your wife believe and obey it. God created the woman for you, and He has written the perfect marriage manual for you to have a crown of pure gold. She needs to be in a church that preaches the whole counsel of God practically and powerfully. And you need to do what you can to lead, encourage, and direct her toward obeying the Bible.
If you are married to a virtuous woman, as measured by the Word of God, then you are greatly blessed, for such a woman is a divine blessing from heaven (Pr 14:1; 18:22; 19:14; I Cor 11:7,11). Give thanks to the LORD for saving you from a slow and painful death!
Young man, think about rotting bones. It is what you will suffer, if you marry hastily or foolishly. See the comments on 31:30. Being single is heavenly compared to marriage to the average woman in this generation (Pr 19:13; 21:9,19; 27:15-16). Virtuous women are rare, very rare. You will need to trust the Lord, hunt far and wide, be critical, and trust wise men to help find her and prove her.
The virtuous woman is also a crown to her Lord Jesus. She keeps the adversaries of the gospel from reproaching or blaspheming the word of God (I Tim 5:14; Titus 2:5). But her love of Christ is empty hypocrisy, if she does not love her husband the way Jesus Christ taught her in His Word. Let each reader be a bride that crowns her Lord!