Friday, August 10, 2012

Women of Proverbs:The Contentious Wife

When we think about the "women of Proverbs," I'm sure most of us think about Proverbs 31 and the excellent wife that Solomon writes about, as well we should.  The example of womanhood given to us in that famous chapter is one we should all aspire to.  But there are other women written about in Proverbs that we can learn from.  I would like to take a few posts to discuss them. To begin with, I'd like to take a look at a negative example of wifeliness that Solomon has shared with us.  

Unlike Proverbs 31, Solomon doesn't spend a whole chapter or several verses together talking about a contentious wife.  Instead, he peppers short proverbs throughout the book like nuts in banana bread.  The repetition serves to show he was very serious in condemning her behavior.  In two verses, he compares her quarreling to a constant dripping (19:13, 27:15), and in three more verses, he says it would be better to live on the corner of a roof (21:9, 25:24) or in a desert land (21:19) than with her.  With such graphic descriptions, I want to make sure I avoid being this kind of wife.  But what does a contentious wife look like?

I looked up "contentious" in several dictionaries.  Every one of them had the words "quarrelsome" and "argumentative" in their definitions.  So a contentious wife must be one who is prone to arguing.  Are your toes sore yet?  Mine sure are.  I'm squirming a little too.  When I first read these Proverbs, I didn't think they really applied to me.  A contentious wife must be a shrew of a woman that no one wants to be around.  But I've known lots of pleasant women who are prone to arguing.  I know women who can argue with a smile on their face, women who know they are right no matter what.  Sometimes I've been that woman.

So how can I change?  I think Proverbs has the answer for that too.  Proverbs 14:1 states, "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with own hands."  I think contentions fall into the category of foolishness.  I've seen women tear down their houses, one argument at a time.  And arguments can take many different forms, can't they?  We use criticisms, silent treatments, nagging, and dozen other tools to manipulate our husbands into getting what we want. I don't want to tear down my house; I want to build it up.  Later in Proverbs we find this: "By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches" (24:3-4).  Since we know that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), then my relationship with the Lord and my knowledge of His will is directly related to building up my house.  So first, stay close to God, particularly by studying His Word and praying.

The second way I can change is simple: Shut up!  "For lack of wood, the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention dies down" (26:20).  While this verse may more accurately be describing gossip than arguing, the principle of holding our tongue applies.  In the New Testament, James has a lot to say about holding our tongues, and it applies in our marriages most especially.  "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart" (1:26).  When I want to argue, I just need to be quiet, bridle my tongue, and be peaceful.

I know these answers are often easier said than done.  I have a quick temper and quick tongue, a very bad combination.  Even when I don't really meant to argue, I sometimes do it without thinking.  But I don't want my husband to wish he were in the desert rather than with me!

What about you?  Have you ever had a problem with arguing?  With being contentious?  How have you sought to overcome it? Do you have any tips for the rest of us?  Please comment and let us know how you have dealt with contention.  


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. - See more at:

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