My office is situated in such a way with a simple glance to my left I can see out the window and enjoy nature, keep an eye on the neighborhood and keep watch for the mail. I will admit, this “convenience” comes at the price of an occasional daydream or interruption in my work flow or train of thought.
There is a sense, when reading Proverbs 11, that the writer may be in a similar situation. Everything seems to be flowing right along then, without warning, we read, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion (v.22).”
The use of rings in an animals nose, such as pigs, cows, or bulls serves a useful purpose not a decorative one. Rings in a pig’s snout primarily prevent the pig from rooting – foraging where they shouldn’t be foraging. For other animals, since the inside of the nose or snout is extremely sensitive, the ring serves as a means of controlling the animal.
In ancient times, nose rings were fairly common. When Abraham’s servant went to find a wife for Isaac when he found Rebekah, and determined she was the one, he put a nose ring on her and bracelets (Gen. 24:47). Ezekiel refers to God’s bride, Israel, saying God had adorned her as a bride and put a “ring on (her) nose and earrings in (her) ears and a beautiful crown on (her) head (16:12).”
The purpose of the nose ornament was a sign of commitment-a decision to be faithful. No rooting around for the wife or the people of Israel. A commitment was made and it was expected to be honored.
The writer of Proverbs may be saying, a beautiful woman/bride/wife who has no discretion in her behavior is like putting a sign of commitment on the snout of a worthless animal. It has no meaning or value.
Signs of commitment are of little import if one is unwilling to follow through on the commitment. Taking up the cross of Christ means nothing if our pattern of behavior belies what we say we believe. The principles of the Cross are not for sissies. There is nothing superficial about one who has committed themselves to be a follower of Christ.