Wise vs. Foolish Women

Woman praying

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:

Another vivid contrast between the wise and foolish woman is in Proverbs 9, where, interestingly, they start out with the exact same invitation.

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7 thoughts on “Wise vs. Foolish Women

  1. This sounds like a very good book, Barbara. It was really good to see it all layed out like that. Like she said, I don’t tend to think I am a full blown foolish woman, but point by point I can see the areas in which God would want me to improve or change quite clearly. Thanks for sharing that. I think I’ll check that book out.

  2. Wellllllll….. I’m not certain but I think to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven… if God wanted me to be happy to stay home and keep the house, I don’t think He would have given me such an undying desire to see this whole big beautiful world He made!!! I think He’s happy that I stayed home and attended to the home and the children when they were young and needed me… but that NOW He might be giving me OPPORTUNITY to leave the nest! The fact that Dennis has no desire to leave with me is not MY fault!

    • I hope that’s not the only thing you got out of this study…

      If you look at one of the verses listed with “not being content in her home, I Timothy 5:13, it says, “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” That’s the kind of thing it is talking about, and that’s certainly not what you’re doing. Most everything you do and everywhere you go is with or for your family. Your ministry still involves them even though, as you say, it’s not the same as when your kids were smaller.

      The foolish woman in Proverbs 7 is not content in her own home and is leaving her house to seek the wrong kind of attention from another man, and the women in the verse I just mentioned were not content at home but were seeking out people to gossip with. And, as I mentioned above about the wise woman, being a “keeper at home” doesn’t mean she never leaves her house, but her focus and the bulk of her attention is on her home and family.

      These verses aren’t saying a wise woman always stays at home and a foolish one always looks to leave it to do something more entertaining. The Proverbs 31 woman wasn’t within her four walls 24/7 — she bought a field, sold things to a merchant, helped the needy, etc. It’s more that the foolish one is discontent with her lot in life and is neglecting her responsibilities and seeking to entertain herself in the wrong ways. I think that’s the gist of it. Although when I was a young mom I had to guard against even good things that would take me outside the home because then I wouldn’t have the energy to take care of things in the home, and things would slide. But, as you said, I do believe there are different seasons in life and what our ministry to our family is when our kids are older will look different than it did when they were little.

      I do think it is important, though, when we bump up against a Scripture that seems to go against what we think, that we don’t just dismiss it as inapplicable to us, thinking “that must not be what it means” because it goes against our experience. It’s good to examine what it says in context, comparing the verses on the topic, and then examine our lives in light of it. I’m just talking attitude here — as I said, I don’t think your lifestyle is at all the kind of “gadabout” that is being discussed here.

  3. Thanks so much for taking the time to post this, Barbara! It is so good and needful in the day and times in which we live. God bless…..((HUGS))

  4. Mrs. Barbara the post was very insightful. I feel like I gained the most knowledge from your comment in response to Melli. I fear I may do the same thing to Scripture when it opposes MY view of God and reality. Thank you so much for reminding me of the authority of Scripture over my own understanding.

  5. Dear ladies, I must admit that I have never understood the foolish woman from this perspective. As a pastor’s wife, I have found incredible insights to reflect on and share with other women. Thanks Barby.

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