Question: "How is a virtuous woman a crown to her husband (Proverbs 12:4)?"

Answer: A good marriage is one of life’s greatest blessings, but a strained one can be a curse. A man who marries a supportive woman will be strengthened by her love rather than weakened. He might even say, “She makes me feel like a king!” Essentially, this was the sentiment King Solomon expresses in Proverbs 12:4: “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: But she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones” (KJV 1900).

The Hebrew phrase Solomon used in Proverbs 12:4 for “virtuous woman” (KJV), “wife of noble character” (NIV), or “excellent wife” (ESV) is the same one Boaz used to describe Ruth, a “worthy woman” (ESV) of extraordinary loyalty and goodness (Ruth 3:11). It refers mainly to a woman’s strength of character and moral fortitude.

A wife’s character can help make or break her husband. A crown is an ornate, jeweled headdress worn by kings, queens, and other royalty. It represents dignity, honor, blessing, favor, status, and strength. A virtuous woman of solid, godly disposition will crown her husband with these attributes. Lemuel describes such a woman in Proverbs 31:10–31: “She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (verses 10–12, NLT). A virtuous woman is trustworthy, diligent, hardworking, generous, skillful, wise, capable, and kind.

The writer observes, “Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders” (Proverbs 31:23). This stately man’s wife “is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household. . . . Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her” (verses 23, 25–28). Her strength of character shines forth in the admiration of those who know her most intimately.

A sister verse to Proverbs 12:4 is Proverbs 14:1: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Like a jeweled crown that wins respect and distinction, a virtuous woman is a treasure to her husband. Not only does she build up her household, but she also raises her husband to a king’s stature. By contrast, a foolish woman drags down her whole family and weakens her husband.

Solomon tells the young man reading his book to “get wisdom” even “though it cost all you have.” Wisdom personified should be cherished, for “she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown” (Proverbs 4:7–9). A wise man who chooses a virtuous wife will discover that he has been given a valuable prize and a blessing from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22). The Good News Translation highlights this idea in Proverbs 12:4: “A good wife is her husband’s pride and joy; but a wife who brings shame on her husband is like a cancer in his bones” (GNT).

“Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth, but only the Lord can give an understanding wife,” reveals Solomon (Proverbs 19:14, NLT). Not just any woman is a gift from the Lord, cautions Ecclesiastes 7:26: “I discovered that a seductive woman is a trap more bitter than death. Her passion is a snare, and her soft hands are chains. Those who are pleasing to God will escape her, but sinners will be caught in her snare” (NLT).

Scripture reveals that choosing the wrong woman to marry can make a man’s life miserable, destroy his reputation, and even bring him down to death. But a virtuous woman—one who is wise, God-fearing, and of strong moral character—can raise him to his full, God-ordained stature. She will be like a crown to her husband, a blessing from God to enrich his life. Thus, a man must use wisdom and care to look past a woman’s external beauty to examine her “inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3–4; see also 1 Timothy 2:9).