Hi, it's Jacque again, and I'm chuckling as I type that title.
For a lot of people, the feminine side especially, there are some words that have double meanings. I'm recalling a time years ago, when a younger man confided to my husband that his wife was uncomfortable with how we conducted ourselves....how our marriage played out in real life.
It seems that his young wife had told him that she didn't like the fact that I deferred to my husband when making decisions. Apparently that really ruffled her pin-feathers! She had remarked to her husband (and he told my hubby) that she considered herself a "strong" woman, and she would never act that way! I guess she thought that by asking my husband what he thought, or what he would like to do, I was being a "doormat."
My husband just smiled, and said, "Actually, my wife is one of the strongest women I know." Don't you think that made me beam when he told me? I'll tell you the truth, that really cranked my tractor! For her, being strong meant that she made sure he knew what she wanted and what she thought, and in no uncertain (loud) terms! Being strong meant that he better remember that she was an equal member of the team, and her opinion was gonna be heard!
Now, I don't want to get going down a rabbit trail here. A lot is said in the Scripture about a woman's role, and that is NOT what we are studying here. I just brought up the example, because when I read this verse, I looked up "virtuous" in my commentary notes. In this verse, the Hebrew (yep, I know.....ya'll are thinking "here she goes again!") means more than just simple chastity, or prudence, or diligence. Although each of those are virtues that we should strive for, the word in this verse implies more. Barnes says "The word implies the virtue of earnestness, or strength of character."
Aha! Strength of character! That's when we have strong characteristics that are of value to others and ourselves. Personally, I would add that strength of character enables a woman to overcome resentment against others, to face hardships and obstacles with a "can-do" attitude, to work behind the scenes to help others, to hide hurt feelings, and to forgive quickly. I think this was what my husband was alluding to. It empowers her to defer to her hubby when a decision needs to be made --- notice I did not say anything about her being silent. We have discussions (vigorous, many times!) about the pros and cons of an issue; but when the decision is made, it is one that we have both been heard on, and we have together come to a resolution. At that point, he is free to make that decision and carry out actions based on it.
I kinda think that is what Solomon had in mind here. I'd much rather be a crown --- a credit, an honor --- to my husband, than the alternative.....the second half of the proverb talks about a husband who is miserable. I wonder if Solomon was speaking from personal experience? :)