9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. 19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. Compare Proverbs 25:24 24 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. And Proverbs 27:15-17 15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm; 16 restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand. 17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Also, Proverbs 11:22 22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. And Proverbs 12:4 4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
ESV - 9 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
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Proverbs has a lot of negative things to say about wives but also a lot of positive things to say as well. Have a look at how it describes a good wife Prov 31:10-31. Like everything in life there are good things to watch out for and bad things to avoid. Proverbs is very balanced in its view of women - but you have to take the whole thing not just part of it. When we read it all and learn both how to avoid the bad and emulate the good, then perhaps we might find some of the wisdom of Solomon rubs off on us. regards Phil
Solomon isn't 'picking on wives' in general. In Prov 12:4 he even distinguishes the "wife of noble character" vs. The "disgraceful wife." The same word as "Contentious" is used in Prov 6:14 in application to the troublemaking man and in Prov 15:8 in regards to the wrathful man, so it isn't even a gender-specific trait. Rather, the Proverbs are general snippets of wisdom applicable to life. For the single man, he could take heed and consider factors other than 'beauty' when marrying. A 'contentious woman' (Prov 27:15) or a man who 'sows discord' (Prov 6:14) is a person who is constantly seeking to rile others up. That person is never happy no matter how much the other person tries to compromise or satisfy him/her. Understandable, nagging and contentiousness can do great damage to a marriage. And while both genders can engage in it, nagging tends to be something women do more - hence why the 'nagging wife' is used for these proverbs. So Solomon isn't trying to pick on women, but he is trying to describe a common problem in marriages. Proverbs aren't meant to cover every possible variation of a scenario, but rather to give general wisdom and general observations that can in turn be applied. So what can men (or women) suffering from a nagging spouse learn and apply?: - Their suffering seems small when any individual moment is examined (like an individual raindrop,) but is miserable in the fact it is relentless and doesn't abate (just as prolonged rain is miserable.) - Even as the tiny parapet under the walls of the roofs was scant, if insufficient, protection from storms and rain, so it would be better for a person suffering from this endless contention would do better to sleep apart and on the roof than continue to suffer even at night. - Accordingly, when having conflict with a spouse it is all right to separate for a time if needed to compose oneself, get a few minutes of peace, or spend time in prayer. However, this respite is only temporary and should only be temporary, as you both committed to spending life together. What should the single person consider? - Note the temperment of your future spouse, if you are given the chance. Do not place beauty as a higher priority than discretion and temperament. Beauty fades, but a quarrelsome person is not going to suddenly stop. Prov 11:22 especially drives this home in contrasting beauty (the 'gold ring') with the lack of discretion (the 'pig's snout'.) A woman who lacks discernment and judgement isn't going to suddenly obtain it, so no matter how beautiful she is the would-be-husband should take care. What should the contentious Christian reading these passages consider? - You should not be on the lookout for problems. - Address issues promptly or let them go, but don't hold on to them for years or bring up long past issues every you get - Nagging and contention is like putting "bars" on a castle. (Prov 18:19) You might think you are trying to save the relationship or just have the other person's best interests in mind, but in reality you are driving wedges and causing the other person to put up barriers. Every time you nag he becomes less likely to listen or consider change, not more. - Life isn't 'all about me' or 'my needs first.' We should consider the needs of others as well as our own, and also consider general decorum in society. We should be mindful of our own behavior and how it reflects on that of our spouse.
I would say that it was not necessarily because men cannot be equally aggravating to women, but because Solomon was drawing upon his own experience as a man with seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. Just by the law of averages alone, there were probably at least a few among those whose behavior inspired the repeated types of references cited in the question (and who would have stood out in his memory as a result), just as there could have been others who conformed to the more favorable description of a wife contained in Proverbs 31:10-31. In addition to the verses cited in the question, I am also reminded of the way (in Judges 16:4-17) in which Delilah took advantage of Samson's lust for her, and wore him down with her repeated nagging until he finally told her the secret of his great strength, which led to his capture by the Philistines.
King Solomon is the writer and I don't think he's "picking on wives." He's a man so he uses women to make his point. But, everything he says about a nitpicking woman who likes arguing can be said about a man of that sort. But I don't think that describes the wife he is speaking of. I think we think of it that way because of the difference in then and now. Men chose wives back when this was written.The love game is nothing today like it was then. If a woman ended up with a "quarrelsome" man it was a case of "that's too bad." A man with a little discretion could make an informed choice. A woman was betrothed (arranged by others) to be married to a man. She wasn't given a "choice" in the matter. Prov 21 begins by informing us that although the king is a man of great power, his heart (decisions, choices) is in God's hand. It ends similarly. Solomon tells us 'The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord' Prov 21:31. All the verses between these two compare the value of righteousness and the peril of evil. And God is present and in the midst of it all. Righteousness and justice are compared to sacrifice. Diligence is compared to hastiness. The way of the guilty is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright (Prov 21:8). Justice is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers (vs 15). When a scoffer (proud and arrogant man) is punished, the simple becomes wise; when a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge. The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked; He throws the wicked down to ruin Prov 21:11,12. Verses nine and 19 sound an alarm about a quarrelsome wife. What this proverb doesn't tell us is how she got that way. Or maybe it does and it's not her fault. Maybe she has a foolish man for a husband. After the caution in verse 9 about a contentious woman, verse 10 says 'The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.' After the warning in verse 19 of an argumentative wife, verse 20 says 'Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.' I don't think Solomon is talking about the same kind of "wives" we are accustomed to in these modern times. I don't think they are contentious because of the color of the dining room curtains or because they want a new car. They probably didn't decide to be upset on their own. I think Solomon is telling us to be wise in our dealings with a wife, not that she'll act out for a silly reason. Pride is a blinding virtue that does nothing to help us understand the scriptures.
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