Wise Words on Loving the Right Woman Well

Desire after forbidden enjoyments naturally springs
from dissatisfaction with the blessings in possession.
Where contentment is not found at home
— drinking out of our own cistern
— it will be sought for, however vainly, abroad.
Marital love is chief among the earthly goods
in mercy granted by God to his fallen and rebellious creatures.
Enjoy then with thankfulness your own,
and desire not your neighbor’s well.

— Charles Bridges, Anglican Pastor (1794-1869 AD)

Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Regard her as the special gift of your Father’s hand.
Cherish her with gentleness and purity.
Whatsoever interrupts the strictest harmony
in this delicate relationship opens the door to imminent temptation.
Tender, well-regulated, domestic affection
is the best defense against the vagrant desires of unlawful passion.

— Bridges

It is highly important to see physical intimacy in marriage as God-given…
for history confirms
that when marriage is viewed chiefly as a business arrangement,
not only is God’s bounty misunderstood,
but human passion seeks other outlets (cf. Proverbs 5:20).

— Derek Kidner, Cambridge Professor

Pray to Love Your Wife Well or Else

you will give yourself to suicidal pleasures that will destroy your life and unravel your family… Hear these challenging words of an old Puritan preacher by the name of Thomas Watson who explains the significance of Proverbs 5:15-21:

thomas watson

“It is not having a wife, but loving a wife, that makes a man live chastely. He who loves his wife, whom Solomon calls his fountain, will not go abroad to drink of muddy, poisoned waters. Pure conjugal love is a gift of God, and comes from heaven; but like the vestal fire, it must be cherished, that it go not out. He who loves not his wife is the likeliest person to embrace the bosom of a stranger.”

Accountability in Marriage

If a man has no accountability, should his wife hold him accountable?

In my opinion, it depends on what area he needs the accountability. My general counsel is that a wife should NOT serve as her husband’s accountability partner to monitor internet usage. I would encourage the husband to have a couple of other men who ask him the hard questions. Also, “Covenant Eyes” is a software program that provides excellent accountability. At the minimum, I would suggest that the husband have one older man to serve as a mentor who is committed to providing accountability, encouragement and prayer. This friend should be empowered to discuss any issue of concern that he has with the man’s wife.

However, if the issue is a general lack of spiritual leadership in the home, the wife should gently encourage and urge her husband to take the mantle and lead. Wives, you walk a fine line with this. How easy it is to become a nagging and complaining wife. This is extremely repulsive and will serve to demotivate your husband. However, wives, it would be beneficial to ask your husband what you could do to help him to better serve as a family shepherd. State very clearly and specifically what you would like for your husband to do and why. Express up front that you don’t want to nag him. Unfortunately, over the years, I needed several reminders from my wife before I started focusing on my role as the spiritual leader of our family.

Husband, you are the head of your household. Yes, your wife is called to respect and submit to you. However, your leadership is a servant-hearted leadership. You are to gladly do whatever would encourage and build up your wife. The Apostle Paul’s magnificent passage on marriage starts like this: “Submit to one another out of your reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). All of us husbands are to rank ourselves under our wives and work diligently to love, cherish, and serve them.

Husbands, give your wives permission to admonish you. This is a mark of a Christ-like, humble person. Colossians 3:16 calls all followers of Jesus to this ministry: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Wives, it is imperative that your admonition and rebuke comes from Scripture and not from your own wounded pride and preferences that you have. Proverbs 27:6 says that “faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Initially, I have always been defensive when my wife comes to admonish me about something I have done or failed to do in my leadership of the family. However, the gospel of God’s grace helps me to pull down my defense shields quicker and seek out the kernels of truth that I need to heed in order to become the man that God wants me to be.

Living Wisely by Loving the Right Woman Well

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about “Loving the Right Woman Well.”

Honestly, why should we listen to a man like Solomon who, in spite of his incredible wisdom, couldn’t seem to bring order to his own love life?

Here’s the best answer I can offer: All truth is God’s truth and God used King Solomon in spite of himself and his relational blunders. From a man who was a total failure at marriage, we learn how to navigate marriage well with God’s wisdom.

There are three important questions our texts from Proverbs address: Whom are you to love? How are you to love her? Why are you to love her? 

Selected verses from Proverbs 5:15-23
Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs
overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of
your youth. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress?
For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD and he examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a
wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led
astray by his own great folly.
Proverbs 11:22—Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
Proverbs 12:4 – A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
Proverbs 14:1 – The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Proverbs 18:22—He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.
Proverbs 19:13—A foolish son is his father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like a constant
dripping.
Proverbs 19:14—Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the
LORD.
Proverbs 21:9—Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
Proverbs 21:19—Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.
Proverbs 23:27—A prostitute is a deep pit and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
Proverbs 25:24—Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
Proverbs 27:15 — A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day…
Proverbs 31:10—A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

  • Whom are you to love?

The Temptation of Loving Strange Women. The counsel of wisdom is simply to avoid and stay clear of promiscuous women. “As the father instructs his son in the first nine chapters, there is really one teaching that prevails: avoid immoral women. In fact, the entirety of Proverbs 5 and 7 are occupied with this theme. Proverbs 2:16-17 – It will save you also from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words, who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God.

God has so ordered the world in such a way that promiscuity is self-destructive. The metaphor that the wisdom writer uses for infidelity in marriage is that of building a fire in your lap. Proverbs 6:27 – Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?

Application: Avoid this disaster for some of you might mean a change in jobs, a change in your magazine subscriptions, and a change in your set of friends.

Love one woman – your wife – until death parts you. How do we know that God’s Word mandates this?

What does the text say? He who finds a wife (18:22). A prudent wife is from the LORD (19:14). A man’s energy and focus is to be exclusively on one woman and one woman only – his wife. The first line of defense against temptation is a healthy, intimate relationship with your own wife.

Malachi 2:15 – “Guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” What if you are here today and you have broken faith and have become an adulterer? You don’t have to be condemned to walk around with the letter A on your conscience for the rest of your life. Be encouraged. We are all spiritual adulterers here.

1 Corinthians 6:11 – Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

  • How do you love her well?

Rejoice in her and be captivated/intoxicated with her love (Proverbs 5). Rejoice in the wife of your youth. How do you do this? What you rejoice in is the thing that is your central sweetness and comfort in life.  To rejoice in the wife of your youth is to treasure her, to reflect on her beauty and importance until your heart tastes the sweetness of the gift of your bride. Acknowledge that she is a special gift of your heavenly Father’s hand. Cherish her with gentleness and purity. Show her tender affection.

Dan Fogelberg: “Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean, higher than any bird ever flew, longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens, I’ve been in love with you…”

Bear with her infirmities and cover her sins. That is why, love covers a multitude of sins… Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. Whatever interrupts the harmony in your marriage relationship opens the door to imminent temptation. Proverbs 17:9 reiterates that “he who covers over an offense promotes love.”

Actively look for evidences of God’s grace in her life and compliment her frequently (31:28 – Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her). Actively look for ways that God is at work in the lives of other people. Make it a practice to become a student of your wife. How is the Holy Spirit revealing His fruit and His gifts in her life? Have you taken time for prayer and reflection on this crucial method for loving your wife well? What is she more aware of – evidences of grace that you’ve noticed or your persistent pressure on her to change? 

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, one of the protagonists, Mr. Darcy, is described as a man “who never looks at any woman but to see a blemish.” How about your wife? What evidence of God’s grace have you seen lately in your wife?  Tell her.

In age of infidelity, intentionally pursue marital intimacy and fidelity  (5:18-23). Frankly, this passage is intensely erotic. So much so that I’ve had to mark my words very carefully. Fidelity in marriage always leads to God’s blessing (vv.15-17). We live in a low-commitment culture that values intimacy without attachment… relationships without rings…

Wives, in Proverbs 5, you are compared to a cistern and fountain because you, like water, satisfy desires.

Husbands, ensure that your wife is the sole object of your stimulation, satisfaction and delight! Confine all acts of physical intimacy to the marriage bed. (Hebrews 13:4 – Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.) Husbands are advised to spend their energy at home. Physically delighting in one another is not only a gift from the Lord, he sanctions and blesses it.

  • Why should you love her well?

Loving her well leads to life. A relationship with strange women leads to death. 5:23 – He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.

18:22 – Finding what is good. The word “good” describes that which is pleasing to God, beneficial to life, and abundantly enjoyable.

Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” was recorded in 1966 at Muscle Shoals, AL. It was listed 54th in the List of Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 greatest songs of all time. When a man loves a woman; Can’t keep his mind on nothing else. He’ll trade the world; For the good thing he’s found!Loving her well ensures that you cherish and value a most precious gift of God.

Proverbs 18:22 – He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. Proverbs 19:14 – Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD. She is a tangible evidence of God’s favor. Finding a prudent wife is a more valuable gift than house and riches. She contributes more to the comfort and credit of a man’s life and the welfare of his family.Thus, you do well to appreciate her as a precious gift from the Lord (18:22; 19:14).

Loving her well serves as a protection against the immoralities and idolatries of this world. 1 Corinthians 7:2 (But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.)

Thomas Watson – It is not having a wife, but loving a wife, that makes a man live chastely (purely)… He who loves his wife, whom Solomon calls his fountain, will not go elsewhere to drink of muddy, poisoned waters. Pure marital love is a gift of God, and comes from heaven; but like the vestal fire, it must be cherished, that it go not out. He who loves not his wife is the likeliest person to embrace the bosom of a stranger.  (1620-1686 AD)

Solomon’s wives (1 Kings 11 – turned his heart to idols).

Loving her well unleashes her to become a source of great blessing and joy to you and the generations coming behind you. Proverbs 31:12 – She does him good and not harm. The wife who is blessed by God becomes a source of joy for her husband. Proverbs 12:4 – A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. Do people recognize your husband as eminently honored and blessed because he has you as his wife?

Wives, you have incredible power. You can do your husbands great good or great harm. You can build up your house or tear it down. You can bless your family or curse them. Are you making it easier for your husband to love you well? Are you tearing your family apart by a contentious, quarrelsome, critical spirit and manner? Do you continually find fault with those around you? How many men whose wings have been clipped by a critical, contentious wife! Designed to soar… they are earthbound. Will you be a crown to your husband, or one who brings him shame? Will you serve in the manner in which God designed – as a helpmate? Or will you serve Satan’s purpose as a tempter and thorn in the side of your husband? (Genesis 3:6. 1 Kings 21:25. Job, 2:9.) Soul searching…

Ephesians 5 – Without embracing and appropriating on a daily basis how the perfect bridegroom has loved you by sacrificing himself for you, there is no way that you will ever love your wife well.

Husbands: What’s the best gift you can give your wife today?

There are lots of wonderful gifts that you can give, but the best gift you can give her is to regularly pray for her and tell her what you are praying for her. This is especially crucial if you’ve experienced a recent conflict. It is very hard to stay angry at someone for whom you are praying.

Here’s a guide that I have developed from Proverbs 31 that I use in praying specifically for my wife and daughters. I offer it to you as a helpful tool.

  • Make her a woman of noble character (31:10 – “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.”)  Make her virtuous, morally excellent. May she hate sin and love Jesus more each day.
  • Develop her into a diligent worker (v.17 – She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.)  Give her strength for her tasks and the ability to discern the best from the good (Philippians 1:9 – making the excellent choice).
  • Sensitize her to meet the needs of those around her (v.20 – “She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy.”)
  • Give her a proper perspective of the future (laugh and smile at it) (v.25 – “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.”)  Free her from undue anxiety and fear.
  • Develop her into a faithful, wise and kind teacher (v.26 – “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”) The word “kindness” is the Hebrew word ‘hesed.’ It means covenantal, steadfast, unfailing, persistent love. The Apostle Paul would say that the goal of all Christian instruction is “love” (1 Timothy 1:5).
  • Make her such a godly wife and mother that her children rise up and bless her; that I bless and praise her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” (vv.28-29).
  • Cause her to grow in her knowledge and fear of the Lord (v.30b – But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”)  Show me how I can encourage her spiritual growth.
  • Help her to have a proper perspective on her outward appearance (v.30a – “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.”)
  • Free her from the tendency to compare herself with other women.  Free her from an undue focus on externals for God does not look on the outward appearance but on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Praying for Your Wife

What are you praying for right now for your wife? I have found it most helpful to pray through certain Scriptures for my wife Scottie. One passage that has served as a helpful guide through the years has been Proverbs 31:10-31. Here are several bullet points for prayer. I would urge to use this as a guide in praying for your wife. James 5:16b says that “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

One important discipline in serving as a loving leader is praying for her. Here’s a guide that I have developed from Proverbs 31 that I use in praying specifically for my wife and daughters. I offer it to you as a helpful tool.

  • Make her a woman of noble character (31:10 – “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.”)  Make her virtuous, morally excellent. May she hate sin and love Jesus more each day.
  • Develop her into a diligent worker (v.17 – She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.)  Give her strength for her tasks and the ability to discern the best from the good (Philippians 1:9 – making the excellent choice).
  • Sensitize her to meet the needs of those around her (v.20 – “She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy.”)
  • Give her a proper perspective of the future (laugh and smile at it) (v.25 – “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.”)  Free her from undue anxiety and fear.
  • Develop her into a faithful, wise and kind teacher (v.26 – “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”) The word “kindness” is the Hebrew word ‘hesed.’ It means covenantal, steadfast, unfailing, persistent love. The Apostle Paul would say that the goal of all Christian instruction is “love” (1 Timothy 1:5).
  • Make her such a godly wife and mother that her children rise up and bless her; that I bless and praise her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” (vv.28-29).
  • Cause her to grow in her knowledge and fear of the Lord (v.30b – But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”)  Show me how I can encourage her spiritual growth.
  • Help her to have a proper perspective on her outward appearance (v.30a – “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.”) Free her from the tendency to compare herself with other women.  Free her from an undue focus on externals for God does not look on the outward appearance but on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
  • May she become a woman who loves others well. (truthing in love – Ephesians 4:15)