It’s not exactly a biblical proverb, and it’s not precisely what Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker in Spiderman. But I still stand by this truth: “With great beauty comes great responsibility.”
A godly woman who has been blessed with exceptional looks is meant to use her gift for God’s glory, rather than for her own benefit. When she captures someone’s eye, she can snag that person’s ear as well, sharing the truth of God’s love. When her beauty opens a door, she can bring her faith with her, lighting the room with God’s grace.
Yet there are also stumbling blocks strewn across a beautiful woman’s path. Men may boldly pursue her, even if she’s married. Assumptions can be made about her that are untrue and unfair. Opportunities may abound, but so do temptations.
That’s the challenge this week’s verse from Proverbs offers us. We can only do so much to enhance our appearance. But discretion? Oh, we can definitely work on that.
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. Proverbs 11:22
Like a gold ring…
This gold-and-diamond beauty is meant for a woman’s hand, but in biblical times, a woman might wear an ornamental “ring of gold” (ASV), sparkling like a “jewel” (KJV), carefully pinched on her nostril. Tradition required that she remove it on the Sabbath, but on the other six days of the week, her nose-ring hung well above her upper lip, so she might eat her meals or kiss her loved ones.
Rebekah was given such a piece of jewelry by the servant of Abraham, who “brought along an expensive gold ring and two large gold bracelets. When Rebekah had finished bringing the water, he gave her the ring for her nose and the bracelets for her arms” (Genesis 24:22 CEV).
So, a beautiful woman with a beautiful ring. Attractive, yes?
But that’s not the picture the Lord is painting here.
…in a pig’s snout…
Eww. God wants us to imagine that gorgeous ring in “the nostrils of a sow” (WYC). Lovely meets ugly. Swanky meets “swine” (ASV).
Practically speaking, farmers sometimes do put copper or steel rings on their pigs’ snouts to keep them from rooting. When the animals try to dig up the earth with their noses, the pain of those rings stops them.
But a farmer would never use expensive gold rings.
Those are reserved for the crown of God’s creation.
…is a beautiful woman…
They may be “lovely” (NKJV), “fair” (ASV), or “comely” (WYC), but when such women behave badly, God’s Word declares they look no better than…well, pigs.
Oh my. One ringy-dingy to rule them all.
By the way, for those of us who feel less than beautiful by the world’s definition, and so may be inclined to say, “This verse isn’t for me,” here are two gentle reminders:
- You absolutely are beautiful to the One who made you: “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). That includes you, beloved.
- Every word in God’s Word is meant for every person who serves him: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
So, this verse really is for all of us, nose-ring wearers or not.
…who shows no discretion.
In Hebrew, this phrase literally means to “turn aside” from “judgment” or “discernment.” To lose all sense of virtue and honor. To cast aside modesty and chastity. To show the world “a beautiful face on an empty head” (MSG).
We’re not talking about a mere mental or emotional indiscretion here. This is an action, something we’re doing that “rejects good sense” (HCSB) and “lacks good taste” (GW). We’re behaving “foolishly” (CEV) and displaying how “stubborn” (YLT) we are, which others can easily see.
We’ve all met women who were lovely to look at, yet when they opened their mouths, quickly lost their appeal. (The Real Housewives of ________ come to mind.)
But the world also sees Christians with silver ichthus symbols on their cars rudely cutting off other drivers or speeding through red lights. They watch Christian families pray before their meals in restaurants, then leave paltry tips for their hard-working waitresses. They observe Christian leaders committing adultery, embezzlement, or fraud. They notice Liz Curtis Higgs snarling with frustration in an elevator when she’s late for an appointment. Groan.
The Lord cautions us, “Whoever has been given much will be responsible for much” (Luke 12:48). Kind of like Uncle Ben’s words, but with way more authority.
Heavenly Father, remind us of all the ways you have blessed us, and help us show others what “beautiful” truly looks like: gentle words, kind deeds, and thoughtful actions, meant to honor our beautiful Savior.
Now it’s your turn
- Several women chose this verse from Proverbs as their favorite.
How does it speak to you?
Bless you for taking a moment to Post a Comment below.
And here’s a fun, 40-second reminder of what we’ve just learned on YouTube!
I’m so looking forward to our next verse, which includes the word, cheer. Woo hoo!
Your sister, Liz