The Valdivian earthquake on the coast of Chile is the most powerful quake ever recorded, at a magnitude of 9.5. On a Sunday afternoon in 1960, the earth began to shake and continued for ten minutes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake caused a tsunami wave thirty-eight feet high that traveled two miles inland. A day later, a tsunami wave thirty-five feet high struck Hawaii. Other countries were also hit by similar waves. The death toll was about 2,000 or less, but about two million were made homeless. Deaths had probably been reduced because of the warnings of four foreshocks at magnitudes greater than 7.0. The quake was followed by many aftershocks and landslides for the next five months.
Obviously, shaking the earth requires a tremendous amount of power. Yet, Proverbs 30:21-23 says that an unloved woman has the power to cause earthquakes.
Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four it cannot bear up:
Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.
This proverb certainly doesn’t compliment the unloved woman who marries! It says that after she marries she is nothing but trouble, will damage relationships, and will destroy her marriage. The earth quakes.
The Hebrew word for “unloved woman” is a passive participle, meaning that she is on the receiving end of some treatment that communicates dislike toward her. Deuteronomy 21:5 uses the same word when commanding that the unloved wife be treated with the same equity as the loved wife.
In this proverb, we are not told why the woman is unloved. Perhaps she was originally innocent of provoking dislike. Perhaps as a child she was mistreated. But at this point, if the earth cannot endure her, then she has certainly responded in an odious manner that does not engender love from others.
Why is it that when an unloved woman marries the earth quakes? The context helps us understand. In each of these four cases, people gain privileges they did not earn and for which they are unqualified. When their thwarted desires are suddenly satisfied with abundance, they cannot wisely manage the privileges and are tempted to pride. They grow more demanding. So, for example, an indolent fool who suddenly gains wealth doesn’t know how to handle the money, power, or social position with grace. One slave, Joseph, appears to be an exception until we observe that he gained training in self-control and management both at home and in administrative positions under Potiphar and in jail. One application to glean from this passage is that it is not wise to quickly elevate the immature, untrained, or newbie.
Many women deprived of love, or who perceive themselves so, desperately desire to feel loved and seek to satisfy that desire in relationships. That self-oriented desperation and the bad relational habits learned along the way deprive them of the attitudes and skills needed for marriage.
How so? Women who perceive themselves to be unloved often hide their hurt but secretly brood and cultivate self-pity, envy, and grudges. They often pursue relationships with men, and may become skilled at using charm to get what they want. Relationships usually don’t last because selfishness creates conflicts. Conflicts and breakups reinforce the sense of being unloved. Once married, this kind of woman need no longer hide her self-pity and imperious demands. Habituated to cravings for the “love” of which she perceives herself to have been deprived, she persistently wants more attention than her husband can give. She gets her feelings hurt easily, complains, manipulates, and blames him. She refuses to submit and turns spiteful. She is never satisfied and never happy except for moments when she gets her own way and has everyone else under her thumb. Her stomping foot shakes the relationship to destructive magnitude. If even the earth will quake, what do you think will happen to her husband’s knees? What child can grow up unscathed by such a mother? No wonder Proverbs 21:9 says that “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
This proverb warns men to be careful about who they choose for a wife. Don’t marry an unloved woman.
But what if you perceive yourself to be or have been unloved? What hope is there for you? Does the raging in your heart prove that you will never be anything but “damaged goods”?
While this proverb warns men away from marriage to an unloved woman, Jesus moved toward unloved women. For example, John 4 records that He went out of His way to introduce Himself to a woman loathed for her race, loathed for being a woman, and loathed for her immorality. Furthermore, she had had five husbands and was then living with a man unmarried. So she was obviously pursuing relationships and yet unloved by the men with whom she lived.
What hope was there for such an unloved woman? Jesus offered Himself as her hope. He invited her to believe that He was the Savior sent from God to provide a way for peace with God. This unloved woman who likely dared not trust any man trusted Jesus and her heart and behavior were transformed. We see evidence of that transformation in that she immediately began thinking of others and not just herself.
Jesus He died to pay for sins, that we might have forgiveness of sins. Then He rose again, proving He is God and we can believe what He promised. To the unloved woman who repents from coping with her longings in her own way and determines to follow Christ, He gives a new heart with godly desires. Then He gives power to have a gentle and quiet spirit and to love others. Trust in Him and you will know the love of God Himself.