…husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way…(1 Peter 3:7)
Many of us do not understand our women because we do not understand wisdom. We do not understand wisdom because we do not treat her like a woman. Throughout the book of Proverbs – a book teaching wisdom to young men – wisdom appears as a woman. Wisdom is personified as a noble lady whom one should pursue: 1:20–33; 3:13–20; 8:1–36; 9:1–18.
Lady Wisdom is contrasted with Lady folly and the whole book leads to a description of wisdom ultimately as a wife (Proverbs 31). Not all the aspects of Lady Wisdom are applicable directly to a man’s wife, but many are.
For example, Lady wisdom is an instructor, a schoolmarm ready to rap our knuckles (Prov. 1:20-25) reproaching us for tracking mud in the house, for our foul language and course manners. Lady wisdom instructs boys in how to be men; how take the initiative and bear responsibility. The man who pursues wisdom should learn to sit up straight and use his inside voice. Wisdom is pursued in humility.
Furthermore, Lady Wisdom is a wealthy patroness who invites us to a feast. Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table (Proverbs 9:1–2). A man who pursues wisdom ought to act like he was invited to a banquet at the palace of a fine lady. He should respond to the invitation properly, not eat like he was raised in a barn, but rejoice in what is served while rejoicing in the wisdom that comes alongside bread and wine. Wisdom is pursued with gladness and joy; wisdom is gained with a fork and knife.
The remaining features of feminine wisdom are more directly relevant to the man who wants to pursue wisdom as a means of learning how to live with his wife in an understanding way.
Lady Wisdom is a sexually attractive woman (Prov. 7:4) and should be sought as any sensible suitor would court a beautiful and intelligent woman. The name sister in this context should be taken the same way it is taken in the S.O.S. (Song 5:1).
The man who eagerly pursues wisdom is protected in the next verse from the “strange woman,” who flatters with her words. When wisdom is pursued and courted, seduction ceases to allure us. When Lady Wisdom is courted a man is protected from very real tramps, seductresses and harlots. The appeal for easy women is driven from us when we diligently court Lady Wisdom. When we come to see how beautiful Lady Wisdom is and we seek to win her hand, we are protected from sexual sin.
A man is instructed by Solomon to pursue and marry this woman and is instructed to be faithful to her. She is a precious treasure, never to be forsaken. “Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you” (Proverbs 4:5–6). is a description of marriage.
The man who fails to honor his wife shows that he has no honor for Lady Wisdom and is therefore, a fool.
Furthermore, we read that Lady Wisdom is a mother, “And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it” (Proverbs 8:32–33). But viewing wisdom as a mother enables a man to see his wife as a mother also, recognizing her high and holy calling.
This attitude toward wisdom – treating her as a woman – collides sharply with the approach of our age which sees wisdom as a pile of matter to be sorted, counted and organized into smaller piles by color, size and weight. The world teaches us that wisdom is a matter of brute facts as cold and unfeeling as an Allen wrench factory.
The bible says wisdom is a woman to be approached with a rose, a sonnet or both. If we want to obey Peter and live with our wives with understanding, we have to think biblically. Modern men have a false conception of wisdom that leads to little understanding about the world in which we live. No wonder we don’t understand our wives.
*This post was a men’s group message which is a rewritten paraphrase of Ch. 1 “Wisdom of women,” from How to Exasperate your wife by D. Wilson. DW gets all the props.