As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.
Beauty is not much, if the woman with it does not know how to act. It is hard to appreciate a gold nose ring on a 1000-pound, stinking, grunting, hairy pig! But this is a fair comparison to an attractive woman without personal grace to be pleasant company. An average looking woman without this discretion is just the sow without the nose ring!
Solomon knew women. He married 700 princesses and had 300 concubines (I Kgs 11:3). God gave him great wisdom, and he used it to analyze life. He did not trust women; he found them more bitter than death (Eccl 7:25-29). He warned against whorish women (Pr 2:16; 5:3,20; 6:24; 7:5; 9:13-18; 23:27-28) and odious women (Pr 12:4; 19:13; 21:9,19; 25:24; 27:15-16; 30:21-23). A virtuous woman is rarer than rubies (Pr 31:10)!
Unless you have been close to hogs, you cannot appreciate Solomon’s simile. God made the hog one of His most despicable creatures. It is noisy, dirty, foul, greedy, smelly, and destructive. Its nature is revolting to all human sensibilities. And there is no training to alter it. A hog is a hog is a hog! A gold nose ring is entirely out of place on its body!
A fair woman is a beautiful woman. God favored her with a face and body that make a woman attractive to the sight. Such beauty is indeed a jewel of gold, and she can be a wonderful gift and ornament to a husband. Her image arrests a man’s attention in just seconds. She has visual power over men that can hardly be measured. She can turn men into distracted, quivering weaklings in short order. She is almost irresistible.
Solomon knew the danger, so he warned his son against beautiful women, unless they also had the discretion and virtue that make them desirable companions. He ridiculed mere beauty by this powerful simile, which God inspired by the Holy Ghost. And wise fathers and mothers will do the same in warning their sons about dangerous women. Sons must be taught plainly about other aspects of living with a woman beyond mere beauty.
What is discretion? Here is a marvelous quality, for lacking it can turn a beautiful woman into an ugly pig. Discretion is the ability to discern or distinguish what is right, befitting, or advisable for one’s own conduct. It is propriety of behavior; civility, courtesy; judicious, prudent, circumspect, and cautious conduct; especially that can be silent when speech would be improper. Discretion is ability to be proper at all times, in all situations.
Discretion is part of wisdom, the power of right judgment, and part of understanding, the power of right discernment (Pr 1:4; 2:10-17; 3:21; 5:1-2; Gen 41:33,39). Discretion is generous to others (Ps 112:5). It rejects wicked conduct by others (Pr 2:10-17). It rules the spirit to defer anger (Pr 19:11). It knows how each situation calls for different conduct (Is 28:23-29). It is prudent application of wisdom to speech and actions.
A woman with discretion is a gracious woman, which Solomon exalted (Pr 11:16). She always knows how to act, and she does it in such a way as to be delightfully charming to all those around her, all the time. Good men and women always hold this desirable creature in the highest regard. She is always honored, and men are very blessed when married to this queen of virtue. Wise men will only marry discreet and gracious women. And if such a woman is also beautiful, heaven has smiled upon the man with two suns!
How can a woman lack discretion? She can be the forward, aggressive, and conniving strange woman despised by Solomon, a Delilah (Pr 7:10-20; 9:13-18). Discretion is a branch of the adjective “discreet,” which causes us to describe a forward or immoral woman, or her conduct, as “indiscreet.” A sexual impropriety is often called an “indiscretion.” Female conduct not chaste, modest, or shamefaced lacks moral discretion.
How can a woman be without discretion? She can be irritating in speech or action. See Solomon’s descriptions of odious women above. She argues or nags. She has opinions without being asked. She is self-righteous, gets angry easily, is moody, or loves to second-guess others. She is petty, prudish, or political. She cannot calm down, sit still, or be quiet. She loves to meddle or needle. She reveals her spirit by spoiled body language.
How can a woman be without discretion? She asks questions about every matter brought up. She pouts if she does not get her way. She waits for her husband to apologize to her. She thinks she was created to be her husband’s second conscience. She worries more about how the dessert turned out than how her husband was honored. She tells her family she works hard for them. She thinks the bride is the most important part of a wedding.
How can a woman be without discretion? She worries about her son’s homework, while he struggles with pornography. She forces him to take piano lessons, when he wishes he could get a chainsaw. She thinks her opinion is equal to her husband’s. She thinks reverence was a formal social custom of Abraham’s day. She thinks cooking is a virtue. She tells her husband about her day at home rather than hear about his day at work.
How can a woman be without discretion? She loves to talk, question, suggest, or remind. She is critical, negative, or picky. She values worthless trivia. She corrects her husband for dates and other irrelevant facts. She loves to pick lint off his suit like he is a seven-year-old boy. She is childish, nosy, or inquisitive. She thinks she is attractive, criticizes others, expects her own checkbook, or cannot forgive instantly and completely.
How can a woman be without discretion? She disagrees with her husband in public. She cries over nothing. She overreacts to rumors or minor events in her life. She always has an experience to tell. She can find something negative about everything. She keeps a cluttered house. She does not have a clue when she irritates people; she does not grasp social decorum. She is too bold, too forward, too loud, and too opinionated. She is a pain.
How can a woman know she lacks discretion? Simple! Do good men and women crave your company? Do you have numerous friends? Are you highly regarded by all? If you cannot positively answer these three questions, then you lack discretion (Pr 11:16). Good conduct leads to favor from others (Pr 22:1,11). Your opinion of yourself is worthless – it is dangerous. All odious women think themselves desirable; that is why they are odious! And your family will lie to keep domestic tranquility, so their opinions are also worthless.
How can a woman learn discretion? Study Proverbs and apply it. Ask godly friends to be brutally honest and give you straight criticism. Pick a few gracious women and copy their good conduct. Reject your mother or any other example from your past that does not match the Bible. Learn to be discreet (Titus 2:5) and meek and quiet (I Pet 3:3-4). Hate the arrogant and selfish attitude of modern women, who do not know their role.
Parent, teach your sons how to measure women. Identify sows with nose rings and those without them. Warn your sons about going to bed and getting up with a piggish woman. Exalt and praise gracious and virtuous women (Pr 11:16; 18:22; 31:28). Introduce your sons, even at young ages, to gracious women, so they can learn the precious respect and warmth they create. Praise these women as the only acceptable wives.
Young man, do not let beauty deceive you. Do not fall for a woman’s eyes or other bodily features (Pr 6:25). Pick a wife by her ability to act perfectly at all times – in the fear of the Lord and with a meek and quiet spirit (Pr 31:30; Ec 10:1). The precious jewel of a gracious spirit exceeds the luster of physical beauty as sunlight to moonlight, and the gracious woman gets better with age, while the model corrupts to fat, gray, and wrinkles!
It is your grave duty, with your father’s help, to measure a woman’s spirit, not her body. A beautiful exterior often hides a depraved and deformed heart. What will you do with a beautiful wife that is always just out of reach, friendlier to other men, always irritated at home, or always irritating at home? A dentist’s chair is a more pleasant place! But a pure and gracious spirit will turn an average looking woman into a glorious lover and friend.
What are the consequences of neglecting this advice? You will live your life in marital hell. You will experience pain worse than death itself. You will try to hide your horrible blunder from public view, but your odious wife cannot be hid (Pr 27:15-16). All men and women will know that your life is torture, as your arm candy grunts and roots beside you. And if your sow is not beautiful, all men and women will wonder why you ever married.
A fair church without the discretion and doctrine of Christ’s laws, as Rome and her harlot daughters, is also like a hairy and smelly pig. While they show the splendor of cathedrals and choirs, organs and organizations, and traditions and treasures, they have the corrupt soul of a debauched whore, full of the abominations and filthiness of her fornication (Rev 17:1-6). If you think this comparison too harsh, you need to read John’s assessment.
In matters of marriage, only a discreet and gracious woman will do, as this proverb teaches. In matters of religion, only the pure doctrine of the Bible and the grace of Jesus Christ will do. Examine and prove your church even more than a wife. When the false churches of this world have faded into shame and dropped into hell, the spotless bride of Christ will be exalted in glorious raiment at the marriage supper of the Lamb.