"Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion." (NIV)
ESV - 22 Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.
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What does Proverbs 11:22 mean? "Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion." As an old farm boy and somewhat familiar with pigs; they were not always kept in a pig pen but sometimes in a fenced in area. It is a natural tendency for a pig to "root" or "dig" with their nose. God designed their noses for that purpose. In order to keep them from plowing up the countryside or rooting under the fence and escaping, rings were put in their noses to cause pain when they started "rooting", counteracting the desire to dig. I do not know if my mini-lesson in swine containment was a consideration in the analogy of Proverbs 11:22 but I do know a pigs nature is to dig and root in dirt, mud, fecal matter, etc. Would it be prudent to fashion the most beautiful and precious of metals into a ring then put it in the nose of a pig knowing that it would be subjected to such disgusting filth and abuse? By the same token, what a waste, what a shame for God's most beautiful creature, the woman to subject herself and body to the filth and defilement that comes through non-discretion!
Well, just off the top of my head, the concept of a gold ring on a pig's snout is pretty bizarre. If I were to see such a thing, I would wonder, among other things, why such a precious material would be in the possession of an unclean creature. On top of that, a look at the commentary on netbible.org explains some of the meanings of the words used: 71 tn Heb “a ring of gold.” The noun זָהָב (zahav, “gold”) is a genitive of material; the ring is made out of gold. 72 tn Heb “in a snout of a swine.” A beautiful ornament and a pig are as incongruous as a beautiful woman who has no taste or ethical judgment. 73 tn The verb “is” does not appear in the Hebrew but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness. 74 tn Heb “turns away [from].” 75 tn Heb “taste.” The term can refer to physical taste (Exod 16:31), intellectual discretion (1 Sam 25:33), or ethical judgment (Ps 119:66). Here it probably means that she has no moral sensibility, no propriety, no good taste – she is unchaste. Her beauty will be put to wrong uses. As mentioned before, the concept appears to be exactly as bizarre as one would think. Just as a gold ring has no place in a pig snout, impropriety has no place in a truly beautiful (inside and out) woman.
I would agree with JD Abshire that the analogy of “a gold ring in a pig’s snout” and “a beautiful woman” in Proverbs 11:22 means a lack of discretion or lack of discernment. In fact, Warren Wiersbe in his Index of Biblical Images cites Prov. 11:22 and Matt. 7:6 to mean this. The application here to our lives is that physical attractiveness without discretion soon “wears thin”; i.e. becomes not quite as important as we first thought. (Oxford Dictionary defines it as being” gradually used up or become less convincing or acceptable.”) We should seek those character traits that help us make wise decisions, not just those that make us look good. Not everyone who looks good is pleasant to live or work with. While taking good care of our body appearance is not bad, we also need to develop the capacity to think.
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