How would you describe an excellent wife? There is a loaded question if there ever was one - especially when a man is trying to answer that question. Men would answer this question any number of ways. Some would refer to an excellent wife solely by referring to her looks. By the way, this would be a very shallow answer - but one nevertheless. To the man wanting a trophy wife this would be his only consideration. Another man might want a good cook - still another a companion. This is why it is so difficult to answer this question. That is why a proverb like this one is valuable - because it helps us understand the proper way to answer this question biblically. This removes all selfishness and self-centeredness out of the equation - and turns us to God's answer for this question. It will also keep many of us men out of serious hot water when we answer this - and do so without thinking much (which is how we men too often answer things when it comes to the issue of women).
The Bible speaks of an "excellent wife" here. What does that mean? The word is actually "chayil" in the Hebrew which when referring to women speaks of a woman with virtuous character. This was the word that was used to describe Ruth in Ruth 3:11. All the people of the city considered her an excellent and virtuous woman. She obtained this testimony because of her character and godliness. The Proverbs 31 woman is also referred to as a woman of excellence as well. Her character speaks well of her - not just in how she treats her husband and children - but also in how she is a hard working, godly woman, whose heart is set on doing well for her family. Their praise of her at the latter end of her days is well-deserved.
The second thing we learn of this excellent wife is that she is the crown of her husband. The idea here is that her life and strength of character makes her husband personally proud - and brings him honor as others see her in the community. She adds dignity to his life - not shame.
The second half of this proverb points to a shameful wife. We are told that the wife who shames her husband is like rottenness in his bones. Shame here means to act shamefully or to put someone to shame by their behavior. This shame comes from disgraceful conduct - and often this shame is related to sexual immorality and those who act without any wisdom. This shameful woman does not honor her husband or her Lord with her moral conduct - and in addition to this acts often without any kind of wisdom at all. These kind of actions make her like a rotting in her husband's bones. There is no stability given to him from her - and that which should hold him up, gives way into a crippling break of a bone.
The excellent wife is the godly wife - the woman who first and foremost seeks to please and honor the Lord. She wants to bless her husband with her heart for God - but also desires to crown him rather than supplant him. As Proverbs 31 tells us, "She does him good all his days." Thus we see all the earthly and fleshly definitions of a good and godly wife fall to the wayside - only to be replaced with the biblical way of seeing a woman. If God has given to you such a wife - realize you have a rare jewel - a diamond and ruby of great value! Cherish her and praise her often for she will not usually be praised by our society. For those who read this - and are women - strive to be the woman God desires for you to be rahter than what the women's magazines promote. Reject the worldy woman who embraces feminism rather than femininity. Enjoy being a woman and enjoy your gender. It is God's gift to you - and a blessing you should cherish. Learn to see your role as God defines it in Scripture - because in the end, you will have to answer to Him on that day - not the NOW.