If there ever was a man who knew about women, it was Solomon. 1 Kings 11:3 tells us, “He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines.” Talk about a harem! And from his experiences with these many women, he came to this conclusion, “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful women who lacks discretion.” (Prov. 11:22) That’s quite a statement since pork was utterly detestable to the Jewish people! But unflattering as Solomon’s simile may be, it reiterates the message found throughout the Bible. God wants our beauty to radiate from within.
We all know how precious and valuable gold is. Could you imagine taking something of such worth like a golden ring and sticking it in the dirty, stinky, nose of a pig? There it will be shoved in garbage, caked with mud, and rubbed in feces! No one in their right mind would be so wasteful. Yet this is just what Solomon says about beauty that is bestowed upon a women without discretion. But what does he mean by discretion?
Discretion can be defined as the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information. Synonyms for discernment include judgement, taste, discrimination, refinement, cleverness, intelligence, sharpness, and wisdom. The Bible has much to say about discretion. “Discretion is part of wisdom, the power of right judgment, a part of understanding, and the power of right discernment (Prov. 1:4, 2:10-17; 3:21; 5:1-2; Gen
That’s not to say we are to be shrinking violets, or are to hide our beauty. After all we are made in the image of God. Each of us is a masterpiece formed by the hands of the Creator of beauty Himself. But as Peter teaches, “Your adornment must not be merely external- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3:3-4) These are the qualities that glorify God and honor those around us. And after all what could be more beautiful than having the glory of the Lord shining through us for all to see?
Physical beauty is overrated, and those who count on their looks to get through life will be sorely disappointed when those same looks are lost to old age. Better instead to develop the characteristics that time can not erase. Sharon Hodde Miller described it this way it, “A woman’s beauty might open some doors for her, but it is her character that will be her ultimate success. Beauty may attract a man, but faithfulness and respect is what will enable her dating relationships, and ultimately marriage, to last. Beauty may get her a job opportunity, but her work ethic will allow her to keep it, if not excel. Beauty may give her attention and friends, but it is her trustworthiness that will determine whether they stick around.”
Proverbs 31:30 says, ”Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Ask yourself whose praise is it that you want. Worldly praise for a beautiful shell, or the praise of God for a heart filled with love and obedience. Better to be adorned “by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim of godliness.” (1 Tim. 2:10), then to be all show and no substance. For no matter how you patch it, paint it, or plump it, a pretty face can never hide an ugly soul. The truth always has a way of coming out, and as the expression goes, you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.