God’s Word for You
Proverbs 27:15-16 Am I the quarrelsome wife?
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, June 8, 2020
15 A constant dripping on a rainy day
and a quarrelsome wife are alike.
16 Keeping her as a treasure is like keeping the wind as a treasure
or summoning oil with the right hand.
I will be honest. Translations struggle with this one, partly because “Keeping (her) as a treasure” (twice in verse 16) is almost the same word as the north wind (Song of Solomon 4:16). The Latin has: “Restraining her is like restraining the wind.” Also, “summoning” is often changed to “grasping” just to make sense of the verse, but I have tried to remain as close to the Hebrew as possible, but it doesn’t flow well. It feels like tacking a ship into the wind.
The thought is this: Just as a dripping either irritates or is ignored, so also a quarrelsome wife cannot be a joy to a man; it would be like grasping wind or oil, which cannot be possessed. “Oil” might also be “perfume” as it is in Proverbs. 27:9, and maybe this would be a better parallel term.
This is the last of Solomon’s “quarrelsome wife” proverbs (Proverbs 19:13, 21:9, 21:19, 25:24 and 27:15-16). These warnings, together with the “wayward wife” warnings (Proverbs 2:16, 6:24, 7:5, 20:16, 23:27 and 27:13) form one side of a caution about selecting a bride who will be one’s partner for life. Chapter 31 and similar proverbs (Proverbs 5:18, 12:4, 18:22, 19:14, 31:10-31) show the other side, the joy of finding a wife who is just right, a helper, a companionable companion, a true bride for a bridegroom. A husband should take care not to call attention to his wife’s faults unless he has first considered his own, the plank before the speck (Matthew 7:3-5). But a wife should also consider how she fits in her husband’s view of this part of God’s holy word; together, with mutual work and repentance, they can be transformed by the word of God into a loving and thriving couple, as delightful alone together and behind closed doors as they seem to be in public.
Spiritually, we must also apply this and similar proverbs to our lives of faith in Christ; our marriage to the heavenly bridegroom (Revelation 18:23). When are we—when am I—the quarrelsome wife? In the Song of Solomon, it is wise to apply the text as it is written to a healthy and loving marriage, but it is equally wise to apply it to the marriage of Christ and the Church. In fact, some passages can only be understood in this way. In the Song, the north and south winds are called on to make the couple’s garden fragrant (Song 4:16). Oil and perfume are also in abundance there (Song 1:3, 1:12, 4:10, 5:13), another means of fragrant joy. The rains are referred to in terms of being “over and gone” (Song 2:11), after which flowers appear and birds sing (2:12-13). When we take all of the Bible’s illustrations of marriage that involve this Proverb’s images, as obscure as they seem here alone, they stand out as a reminder of how marriage should truly be, and of how our life of faith in Christ and our earthly walk with him should be as well. Make yourself a delightful spouse, whether husband or wife, and make yourself a delightful bride of Christ (whether you are a man or a woman, for it is the Church that is the Bride). Be a refreshing breeze that makes any day glorious and delightful; don’t be a drip that your spouse wishes would just go away. Be perfume that can be summoned with a glance; a spouse to be treasured for life. Don’t be something elusive that never quite happens. Be everything good for your spouse; make them happy beyond their wildest dreams, so that they can say: “You have been more than I ever hoped for; my best friend; I could never put into words how much I love you.” This is what should be on your mind whenever you say, “I love you.” Put your love into action right now. Don’t assume you know what they want. Listen to what your wife (or husband) says and love her today without hesitating for anything.
Pastor Timothy Smith