In the book Becoming God’s True Woman, Nancy Leigh DeMoss has a chapter on discretion which includes a study of the foolish woman in Proverbs 7. That triggered a further (though not exhaustive) study. Here are some of her characteristics (sentences within quotes are Miss DeMoss’s unless otherwise noted):
- She uses flattering words (also translated “smooth” or “seductive” in other versions), v. 5, 21.
- She is in the wrong place at the wrong time by choice; she goes to a place where it is easier to stray, vv 12-15.
- She dresses like a prostitute, v. 10.
- “She is religious; she tries to spiritualize her sensuality and immorality with talk about sacrifices and offerings,” v. 14.
- “She is not satisfied with the mate God has provided…Rather than looking to God to fulfill the deepest needs and longings of her heart, she focuses on what she does not have and looks to others to meet those needs. Rather than pouring her love, attention, and devotion upon her husband, she invests her heart, energy, and efforts in another man,” vv. 18-20.
- She is subtil or wily of heart, “crafty in her intent” (“the inward attitude that produces the outward manifestation”), v. 10.
- She is loud, stubborn, an impudent, vv. 10-13. “She does not exercise restraint or self-control…She is headstrong and defiant against God’s law and against the obligations of morality.”
- She is a gadabout, not content at home, v. 11 (see also I Timothy 5:13),
- She is aggressive in her relationship to men, v. 13-15.
- She is “consumed with physical, temporal values rather than that which is enduring,” v. 16-18.
- “She is indiscreet — she talks freely about intimate subjects that should be reserved for conversation with her husband,” vv. 16-18.
- She “does not understand the nature of true love. True love is giving, not getting…She is a taker rather than a giver. She seeks immediate gratification….She fails to think about the long-term consequences of her choices.”
- She indulges in what she thinks is secret sin while her husband is away, forgetting that God sees.
- Though others are responsible for their own sins, she uses her influence to bring them down rather than building them up, vv. 21-27.
Miss DeMoss points out that even though we may not consider ourselves to be full-blown foolish women, we need to be on guard against subtle foolish characteristics creeping into our lives.
By contrast, the wise woman:
- Fears God, Proverbs 31:30.
- “Openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness ,” Proverbs 31:26.
- Is content to be a “keeper at home,” Titus 2:5. (This doesn’t mean she never leaves her house, but her focus and the bulk of her attention is on her home and family.)
- Loves her husband and children, Titus 2:4.
- Is focused more on inward character than outward adornment, I Peter 3:3-4.
- Is modestly attired, I Timothy 2:9.
- Is trustworthy, Proverbs 31:11.
- Has a meek and quiet spirit, I Peter 3:4.
- Is industrious, Proverbs 31:13-27.
- Is giving, Proverbs 31:20, Luke 8:3.
- Is discreet, Titus 2:5. (“of a sound mind, sane, in one’s senses, curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate,” according to Bible Study Tools.)
- Is chaste, Titus 2:5.(“exciting reverence, venerable, sacred, pure; pure from carnality, chaste, modest; pure from every fault, immaculate; clean” according to Bible Study Tools.).
- Builds up instead of tearing down, Proverbs 14:1, Ephesians 4:29.
- Is praiseworthy, Proverbs 31:28-31.
Another vivid contrast between the wise and foolish woman is in Proverbs 9, where, interestingly, they start out with the exact same invitation.