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The Wise Woman and the Foolish Woman

A woman does not choose to be foolish or wise in the same way that she chooses between chocolate or vanilla, cotton or silk. She chooses to be foolish when she does not strive to be wise.

  • Ina Manly Painter,
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“The wise woman builds her house
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”
(Prov. 14:1 NKJ)

A woman does not choose to be foolish or wise in the same way that she chooses between chocolate or vanilla, cotton or silk. She chooses to be foolish when she does not strive to be wise. If there is no fear of God before her eyes, she is foolish. If she fears God she is enabled by the Holy Spirit to become wise, for God's wisdom lives within her, a lamp to her feet and a light to her path (Ps. 119:105). While we all have within our breasts a propensity to act foolishly, the woman herein described is thoroughly and absolutely foolish. With time and opportunity she becomes even more depraved, as evidenced by the final outcome of her house.

In addressing the subject of wise and foolish women, men are not exempt from like application, nor is the unmarried woman. It is a foolish man and woman who do not fear God, who tear down their lives, caring nothing about mortifying impurity, evil desires and greed (Col. 3:5).

The foolish woman is never out of fashion, else God would not have preserved these timely admonitions for all generations. She is like undetected wood destroying termites eating away at the foundation of life and home, wrenching them, inch by inch, until finally there is nothing left to rend. Her destructive pursuits are akin to Herodias' scheming mind, gradually and deliberately plotting evil (Matt. 14:3-12). She is a skilled demolitionist, possessing tools hewn out of her own experiences. She defies and subverts her husband's authority. When she is submissive it is attributable to her calculated advantage. His desires are not her bliss, neither her first thought. Now and then she may exhibit some small kindness, to further control him, as she hones her crafty skills to yet a more precise sharpness. Because she has no true satisfaction, she seeks private times for herself, to his exclusion, reckoning that he should not begrudge her some small morsel of happiness.

At first glance, the foolish woman makes a too good to be true impression, after all she did manage to snag a husband. From there, she manipulates the minds of others, so she thinks. Her deceitfulness, like Delilah betraying Samson, impoverishes her victims (Judges 16:4-21). The kindness and grace of first love has hardened into a competitive battling day-in-and-day-out. Her actions mock what once may have been gentle intimacies. She is seldom thankful or satisfied, caring little for chaste and respectful behavior (1 Peter 3:2). Her pride keeps everyone at a distance and those who would attempt to bless her with truth are assaulted by her polished rhetoric.

The Wise Woman

The wise woman builds up her house, both spiritually and physically. The establishment of her home begins in her heart. Her wisdom is founded in her fear of God, unlike the foolish woman who despises God's wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7). The wise woman's house is her pivotal domain from which she functions as a help meet to her husband. She shapes the environment to best facilitate her God-given objectives. She strengthens her home by faith and integrity, adding to its beauty and function.

“A good wife is a great blessing to a family; by a fruitful wife a family is multiplied and replenished with children, and so built up; but by a prudent wife, one that is pious, industrious, and considerate, the affairs of the family are made to prosper, debts are paid, portions raised, provision made, the children well educated and maintained, and the family has comfort within doors and credit without; thus is the house built. She looks upon it as her own to take care of, though she knows it is her husband’s to bear rule in, Esth. 1:22”1

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones” (Prov. 12:4 KJV).
"A virtuous and worthy wife — earnest and strong in character — is a crowning joy to her husband, but she who makes ashamed is as rottenness in his bones" (Prov. 12:4 AMP).
"For a man ought not to wear anything on his head [in church], for he is the image and [reflected] glory of God, [that is, his function of government reflects the majesty of the divine Rule]; but woman is [the expression of] man's glory (majesty, pre-eminence). (I Cor. 11:7 AMP).

An Adorning Blessing

God made the woman from the man to be an adorning blessing. She is his representative, his glory. He is her head; she his crowning delight. The virtuous woman shows herself worthy of her husband's trust. He has no need to search abroad for gain (Prov. 31:11), for his soul is at rest in the sanctuary of their home. He and the children are blessed continually by her faithful submission. She is not strong-willed in her appetites and passions, though capable and deliberate in her God-ordained calling. She is correctable, not stubborn, or demanding to be coddled. He is her authority, she his complement and support. She reverences God and seeks to glorify Him (Prov. 31:30); faithful in ministering to the needs of those whom God has entrusted to her care (Prov. 31:27). Diligent and industrious, she is a woman of good works (Prov. 31:12-20); humble, ready to learn from the least example to the greatest foe.

The foolish woman causes shame. She should be ashamed, but what does she do? She disgraces her husband and her children, always having the last word, always engaging in battles, privately and publicly. Because she is persistent in the ongoing process of destruction, the family maintains a quiet secret, a shameful secret. Everyone suffers. Things at home are not as well as the children would prefer, and possibly not as well as they publicly portray. The children are confused and embarrassed and can hardly wait to leave home. The husband's ongoing bone rot is painful and debilitating (Matt. 10:36, Micah 7:6). The thoroughness of the foolish wife is surely in direct proportion to the thoroughly affecting rot in the husband's bones. The person who should make him as happy as royalty continually brings him to impoverished despair. As sure as any strain is put upon the family the cancerous malady worsens. The one person, like the wife of Job, that should be the most dependable cannot be depended upon at all, and all those who trust in her are soon brought to shame.

“He that is plagued with a bad wife is as miserable as if he were upon the dunghill; for she is no better than rottenness in his bones, an incurable disease; moreover, she makes him ashamed. She that is silly and slothful, wasteful and wanton, passionate and ill-tongued, ruins both the credit and comfort of her husband; if he go abroad, his head is hung down, for his wife’s faults turn to his reproach; if he retire into himself, his heart is sunk; he is continually uneasy; it is an affliction that preys much upon the spirits.”2

“Truly affecting is the contrast of a contentious woman, …imperious, extravagant, perhaps unfaithful wife; in the levity of her conduct forgetting her proper place and subjection: seeking the admiration of others, instead of being satisfied with her husband’s regard. This is indeed a living disease – rottenness in his bones; marring his usefulness; undermining his happiness; perhaps driving him into temptation, and ‘a snare of the devil’”3

Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman (Prov. 21:9 NKJ).
Better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and angry woman (Prov. 21:19 NKJ).
A continual dropping in a very rainy day, and a contentious woman are alike. Whoever restrains her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand (Prov. 27:15,16 NKJ).

The husband may take shelter from the continual dropping of rain but there is no shelter from a quarrelsome strife. “Whether the woman lusts for rule, or repines under the obligation to submit; either principle breaks the rank, in which God has placed her. Occasions always present themselves for the display of this unhappy temper. … unrestrained by Divine grace, she becomes her husband’s torment, and her own shame”4

The Contentious, Foolish Woman

The contentious, brawling, foolish woman is not necessarily a woman unfamiliar with Scripture. In fact, part of her skill may be wielding the Sword with accurate precision. Her dissatisfaction may be that she has married a man not as spiritual as she. She may know God as one knows any historical person, however, her trust is in herself. In her foolishness, she disregards God's righteous justice and reckons her schemes and reinterpretations of Scripture to be acceptable. The word of God is a reproach; she has no delight in it (Jer. 6:10). Her assaults against submission are ongoing, subtly reasoned to perfection. The first fruits of her love are self-contained and inordinately directed. They are aimed at neither God nor her husband. She would rather busy herself with strangers and projects than to be a good steward of her domestic duties. She is a self-idolater, living only for herself. Because she does not live by herself everything around her is spoiled. She is highly opinionated and demanding, punishing either with sullen silence or constant bickering. Her contentions can be neither restrained nor contained. "Whosoever restrains her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand" (Prov. 27:16 NKJ).

The virtuous woman respects and supports her husband's authority. She does not speak snidely of his opinions, insinuating her greater wisdom. She does not correct him or talk down to him in a campaign to make him as righteous as she. Because the wise woman tends to the care of her home and her household, she is said to build her house. By understanding her home is established and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches (Prov. 24:3). What a delightful residence for the souls of those who dwell therein!

A foolish son is the ruin of his father, And the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping (Prov. 19:13 NKJ).

“Such a dropping utterly destroys a man’s household comfort, and ‘wears away’ a heart firm as a ‘stone.’ This trial is the more fretting, because there is no lawful escape. The foolish son may be cast out. The contentious wife must be endured.”5

“But surely our God teaches us a valuable lesson of this world’s vanity, by fixing disappointment on its most substantial comforts. Let his children beware of building their rest on an earthly portion, of being ensnared by their best blessings; else will their jealous Father embitter their sweetest sources of enjoyment, and teach them by painful discipline to look to enter into no rest but his.”6



1. Matthew Henry's Commentary, vol.1, 514.

2. Ibid., 508.

3. Charles Bridges, Proverbs, 134.

4. Ibid., 515.

5. Ibid., 316.

6. Ibid., 317.

  • Ina Manly Painter

Ina Manly Painter has a Master of Science Degree in Educational/Counseling Psychology. She and her husband, Harrison, live in Knoxville , TN , where they have been affiliated with Re/Max Preferred Properties as REALTORS, for many years. They have four children, Paige, and wife Christa, Laura, Jared, and Amanda and one grandson, Caleb. They can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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