“…and a prudent wife is from the LORD.” (Proverbs 19:14b)
You can’t get a higher endorsement than this. The husband whose wife can rightfully wear the label of prudence can know that he made a wise choice. And by the same token, this feminine badge of distinction should be cherished by its owner or aspired to by all others. A good wife has many good qualities, but none more praiseworthy than prudence.
So what is prudence? Well, a good definition would be “having or exercising sound judgment in practical matters.” But what might God mean by the term? Staying in Proverbs, one can find many clues. Solomon says of someone who is prudent that he (and she): are able to control their emotions (12:16); don’t believe everything they hear (14:15); know how to take a rebuke, especially from an elder (15:5); are life-long learners (18:15); and can see evil a mile away and know how to sidestep it (27:12). Proverbs 8:12 tells us that prudence has a roommate. “I wisdom dwell with prudence….” And I’m not surprised. God never meant for wisdom to be sequestered. He meant for us display it in our lives, not just our words, in a practical, prudent way.
As far as I can tell, only one (named) man in the Bible is actually called prudent: Sergius Paulus. You’ll find him in Acts thirteen. We know two important things about this prudent man. 1) He “desired to hear the word of God (v.7); 2) he “believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord (v.12). This man knew the truth when he heard it; and I would submit that only the man or woman who takes the Bible for what it is: the Word of God, and is governed by it’s precepts, can honestly be considered prudent, or sound in judgment.
I see prudence in Biblical wives like Abigail, who was able to keep David from succumbing to his anger (1 Sam. 25); Manoah’s wife, who allayed her husband’s spiritual panic by calm reasoning (Jdg. 13; and the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31, whose husband knew he could always trust her in life or death. I’ve also seen prudence in women I have met through the years. In most cases, I was able to gauge their worth by the contentment and trust I could see in their husbands. Their prudence may not always have been appreciated, but it could never be denied.
If you are the husband of such a wife, see her for what she truly is: a gift from God. If you are a single woman, hoping to be a wife one day, nurture the attribute of prudence in your life now, especially by reveling in the Word of God. If you are a wife, ask yourself how important Biblical prudence is to your job description. It’s nice to be pretty; but it’s better to be prudent. Long after the glow of youth has faded from her face and form, the prudent wife will still shine in the eyes of a godly husband. For this reason, and because of the high value God puts on it…
“Prudence, I praise thee!”