A while back, a friend made a comment about how she was struggling with “becoming her husband’s shadow.”
This confused me.
“What do you mean?” I inquired.
“It’s that verse, Proverbs 12:4, ‘An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.’ I’ve been taught that verse means to be an excellent wife, crowning my husband means I live my life as his shadow, that all I am to do with my life is to bring glory to him, that my efforts are around his being well-liked, promoted, esteemed, revered, taken care of, etc. That I shouldn’t pursue my own interests or do anything that I want to do, I should live my whole life, not just part of it, bringing honor to my husband. It’s really hard. It makes me angry.”
WOW. How did our culture get so moved from the place where women now have to actually think deeply about these things? It should be natural for us to honor and respect others – and even moreso those we live with. We believe too many lies.
“Did you look that up for yourself?” I asked.
“No…” she replied, brow furrowing.
“You should,” I said.
I left it at that. Digging into the Word to have Truth revealed is an individual’s experience with the Spirit. And He will guide us specifically at different times in our walks…Just being honest here, God used thoughts very similar to my friend’s to help me get over my own “Diva” complex in my marriage… all my thoughts were about why my husband wasn’t doing this or that…I was completely focused on where he was falling short, instead of dealing with my own sinful nature, which was totally selfish, wrong, and sinful on my part. (And for the record, before you think I don’t know how awful marriage can be, let me just say that I do. I’ve shed many tears and felt desperately alone, frustrated, and hurt. And my husband is still growing, as am I) At any rate, now, those verses mean something else to me, even though that original Truth is still there, if that makes any sense. Back then, I didn’t have a healthy sense of who I was in Christ – and so I wrapped my identity up in what others were doing or saying or not doing or saying, instead of living my life for the Audience of One.
I love going to www.Bible.org and searching through the NET Bible translator. I did that this morning when I ran across Proverbs 12:4 in my reading. Here’s the definition of the word, “crown,” translated from Hebrew into English:
1) to surround 1a) (Qal) to surround 2) to crown, give a crown 2a) (Piel) to crown 2b) (Hiphil) crown-bestower (participle)
a primitive root; to encircle (for attack or protection); especially to crown (literally or figuratively):-compass, crown.
And here is the word, “excellent,” which is “noble,” in some translations:
1) strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army 1a) strength 1b) ability, efficiency 1c) wealth 1d) force, army
from 2342; probably a force, whether of men, means or other resources; an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength:-able, activity, (+) army, band of men (soldiers), company, (great) forces, goods, host, might, power, riches, strength, strong, substance, train, (+)valiant(-ly), valour, virtuous(-ly), war, worthy(-ily). see HEBREW for 02342
Protection? Strength? Efficiency? Army?
Hmmm…so I looked up “shame,” in the verse, and here’s what I found:
1) to put to shame, be ashamed, be disconcerted, be disappointed 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to feel shame 1a2) to be ashamed, disconcerted, disappointed (by reason of) 1b) (Piel) to delay (in shame) 1c) (Hiphil) 1c1) to put to shame 1c2) to act shamefully 1c3) to be ashamed 1d) (Hithpolel) to be ashamed before one another; a primitive root; properly, to pale, i.e. by implication to be ashamed; also (by implication) to be disappointed or delayed:-(be, make, bring to, cause, put to, with, a-)shamed(-d), be (put to) confounded(-fusion), become dry, delay, be long.
Someone please explain to me how “we need to be our husband’s shadow, to be his crown,” comes from this.
I don’t think it does.
What I’m seeing is an Old Testament is something that, while not specific to wives, relates to all believers in the New Testament, and that is 1 Peter 4:8, Above all keep
your love for one another fervent,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
Remember what “shame” feels like? That stomach-turning, cheek-flushing, tear-welling emotion that makes us wish we were invisible? Think of your best friend for a moment…or a sister you are very close to… Do you want to be a disappointment to her? Do you want to do something that causes her to feel ashamed?
If she walked out of the ladies’ room at the Arnoff, with her skirt stuck in her pantyhose bearing her hinny to the world, would you stand back, point your finger and be the first to laugh loudly, or would you cover her behind with your coat or walk behind her, escorting her back into the bathroom so she wouldn’t be embarrassed?
When she fails, do we criticize her, or do we dry her tears, provide a compassionate and safe place to fall, listening to her angst, walking helpfully alongside her as she grows in her relationships with God and others?
To be our husbands’ “crown,” we need to do the same. We are created as equally precious in God’s sight as the men we married. Yes, they are the “heads” of our families, responsible to God for our families at judgment. Yes, I agree, as Christians (wives, husbands, or otherwise) we should follow Scripture’s teaching and consider others better than ourselves (Phil 2:3), and yes, we should ALL serve one another, following Jesus’ example. But remember, Jesus was a radical, and His Word shows us as “first at the cradle, and last at the cross,”(see article link). If you doubt the preciousness of women, please read the link above – it’s written by someone much smarter than me. 🙂
Here are a few more notes on the Scripture, which might bring even more clarity:
8 tn Heb “a wife of virtue”; NAB, NLT “a worthy wife.” This noble woman (אֵשֶׁת־חַיִל, ‘shet-khayil) is the subject of . She is a “virtuous woman” (cf. KJV), a capable woman of noble character. She is contrasted with the woman who is disgraceful (מְבִישָׁה, mÿvishah; “one who causes shame”) or who lowers his standing in the community.
9 sn The metaphor of the “crown” emphasizes that such a wife is a symbol of honor and glory.
11 sn The simile means that the shameful acts of such a woman will eat away her husband’s strength and influence and destroy his happiness.
So, ladies, today I dare you to be a Proverbs 31 woman of strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25), one who laughs at the days to come. There is nothing in the Bible about being a “shadow,” which, even in the most positively used statement I could find, Isaiah 51:16, still reads as “protection.” So let’s get our acts together, let’s love well, bring honor to others, and not rescue, but rather protect, by being a good friend – not just to our girlfriends, but to our husbands.
Please know that to the extent we understand and embrace these Biblical teachings, well, that’s the extent of our contentment in a marriage relationship. We will war against the lies of this world and even the “Christian culture” lies (like women are “less than” men).
Want to learn more about these things? Cincinnati locals can join us in a very special Daughters of Sarah® course – this is the one that makes it available to any church anywhere. Find out more on The Respect Dare’s Facebook® page. The information meeting is this weekend, Sunday, 9:15am, 2011 at Faith Church in Milford, Ohio. Come early, so you can find your way to the Multi-Purpose Room in the New Life Center (just head to the right side of the building and go in that door). There’s childcare, and we’re done at 10:30am, so you can still make it to your own church to worship (we’re not trying to steal you away from there, however, if you don’t have a church you call home, please feel welcomed to Faith Church, also).
Double-dog-dare you to bring friends. 🙂
Triple-dog-dare you to spend some time digging in the verses above. And then share what He reveals to you today. He’s always speaking…it’s just a question of whether or not we are listening. 🙂
Thankful to be on the journey with you,