By Irvin Himmel
Decorated But Devoid Of Discretion
As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion (Prov. 11:22).
This pithy comparison grabs one’s attention. It is provocative of thought. The point of the proverb is grasped readily.
Many women have a strong interest in physical beauty. Charm schools do a big business. The ambition of a lot of teenage girls is to learn charm and poise, to improve their appearance, and maybe even get to be a beauty queen, a model, or a popular actress.
Companies which make and sell cosmetics are finding a large market for their products. Females buy eyeshadow, false eyelashes, preparations to tone the skin and remove blemishes and wrinkles, shampoos that are supposed to give luster, vitality, and softness to the hair, rinses to change the color of the hair, preparations to color the cheeks, lips, and nails, weight reducing equipment, special foods that are supposed to help keep the figure trim, foundation garments to conceal bulges and to accent femininity, and a variety of other beauty aids. Who knows how many millions of dollars American women spend annually to upgrade their physical appearance!
True beauty is a precious possession. The proverb admits that beauty is like a jewel of gold. But it should be remembered that physically beauty will not endure long. A lovely face may be marred permanently in an accident. Sickness, suffering, and old age are destroyers of comeliness in appearance. Bodies once considered gorgeous and vivacious are now rotting in the grave. Some girls who are as pretty as a peach in their teens will look quite homely by the time they are forty. And if physical beauty is not diminished sooner, it will be gone when death overtakes the mortal body.
Genuine physical beauty, like all other temporal blessings, must be considered as a gift from God. However, no one should be honored for having a fair countenance, good health, or a strong body; and no one should be despised because of lack of beauty, or for bodily weakness, or for physical deformity.
Things More Important Than Beauty
It is commendable that a woman wants to appear neat and presentable, but outward beauty is not nearly as important as the following:
(1) Honor. “A gracious woman retaineth honor. . . ” (Prov. 11:16). Many women, even in their youth, exchange honor for shame, virtue for disgrace, and moral principle for fleshly lusts. A woman who has true graciousness deserves and will receive honor.
(2) Meek and quiet spirit. Cosmetics and ornaments may add to physical charm, but the heart is where real beauty must be found. Peter encouraged women who were Christians to let their adorning be “the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Pet. 3:3,4). It was in this manner that godly women of ancient days adorned themselves. Thousands of modern women give no attention whatever to this highly important kind of adorning.
(3) Fear of God. “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Prov. 31:30). A lot of men are drawn to beautiful women, even if they are women of loose morals. How deceitful is physical charm! Solomon warned his son about this kind of woman who would entice him into an illicit relation. “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids” (Prov. 6:25). How different today’s society would be if more women feared God!
(4) Discretion. This word (as used in our text) means taste, perception, intelligence, judgment, or understanding (see Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). It refers especially to moral taste. A woman may appear as a gorgeous doll and be devoid of the understanding and judgment which would make her a vessel of honor before God.
Swine are associated with uncleanness, rudeness, and shamelessness. Coarse in appearance, a pig is only a brute beast. Nothing could be more incongruous than putting a gold ring or decorative ornament in a swine’s snout. The animal will go right on wallowing and rooting in the mire.
A woman may be outwardly beautiful, but without discretion she is like a jewel of gold in a hog’s snout. Beauty without perception of what is right in God’s sight is utterly worthless. To the female who disregards modesty and principle, beauty is no more than hog jewelry.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 10, p. 301
May 15, 1986