Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World: Wise words from the book of Proverbs

Favour is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the Lord is greatly to be praised.

Proverbs 31. 30

The NIV translates the first part of this proverb as, ‘Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting’. ‘Beauty is only skin-deep’ may be the wisdom of the world, but it confirms what God says and is true, none-the-less. After all, there’s many a man who has married for a beautiful face but found an awful woman. No matter how stunning a woman may look, ‘it is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house’, Prov. 21. 9.

God confirms one of our weaknesses as human beings when He says, ‘Man looketh on the outward’. We are often and easily blinded by either the presence or the absence of physical beauty; God, however, looks on the heart.

The wisdom of this proverb should be considered by both male and female alike. God’s advice to men looking for a wife is to be careful of the fleeting, outward beauty of face and figure unless that beauty is matched with an inward spiritual attractiveness that will last the test of time and may even deepen over the years. There are many deeply spiritual women around that men do not even see because they may not be physically as attractive as men want. One would think that a spiritual man would be interested in spiritual values. Sadly, that is not always the case, and Christian women can be forgiven for thinking that made-up faces, ostentatious jewellery and high fashion are important. No, no. It is the woman who fears the Lord who should be highly prized amongst God’s people.

God’s advice to women, too, is straightforward; cultivate a beautiful relationship with God. Spiritual beauties are more important than physical ones. Who is it who gains God’s approbation? It is women who ‘adorn themselves in modest apparel,with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but … with good works’, 1 Tim. 2. 9-10. The attraction God, and godly men, should look for is ‘not that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold’, but instead ‘the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price’, 1 Pet. 3. 3-4. The model wife, according to Proverbs chapter 31, is not the one who could step out of the pages of Vogue, but is rather the one who is faithful to her husband, cares for her children, is a wonderful home-maker, hospitable, compassionate, hard-working, an example to others, admired by all and honoured by God. Her beauty is inward, not necessarily outward. She fears God and seeks His approval more than that of men. She is the one whom you ought to aim to be, or to marry. Her value is far above that of precious stones.