Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain
But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised
I love Proverb 31. It always shocks me and makes me reconsider what I value. It rebukes and encourages me when I have let down my guard and allowed my mind to be moulded by senseless and godless rubbish.
The version I’m familiar with reads “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting” (NIV). Somehow the word deceitful carries a much stronger meaning than deceptive does. Deceptive is more indirect, as if there need not have been an intent to lie.. the object being discussed just happened to play a role in the overall falsehood. We say, This roadsign is deceptive because it’s placed too far away from the junction. It’s unintentionally misleading. We don’t say, however, This roadsign is deceitful. That’s just weird.
So for the hebrew word to have been translated as deceitful in the ESV bible is pretty jolting. In fact the word is sheker, and it means falsehood. Charm is a falsehood. Hitler comes to mind, but that is a little on the extreme side…
Another recent realisation on the proverbs- Whenever I read that simile about a dog returning to its vomit I feel disgust, and this helps me to realise the disgustingness of my own sin. But it only recently occurred to me that vomit is (in addition to being disgusting) something that has already been rejected by the body because it has been found unbearable, and that is the main point of the proverb. To return to sin — habitual sin — is not only disgusting but stupid.