Proverbs 21:9

A Brawling Woman

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with
a brawling woman in a wide house.


1. This is one of those succinct and snappy proverbs that needs no explanation or interpretation.

2. The meaning is self evident, and almost anything a teacher or commentator says about it or adds to it does nothing but diminishes the potency of the expression.

3. Prov. 25:24 – The very same proverb is repeated… virtually word for word.

4. Prov. 26:21 States that men can be just as guilty of being contentious as women.

a. However, here Solomon is not speaking about contentious men. He is speaking about contentious wives.

b. And just to be fair, Solomon speaks in GREAT DETAIL of the virtuous woman in chapter 31.

c. If it is any consolation to you ladies, there is no equivalent chapter in the Bible for men.

d. What Solomon writes here may not seem very flattering to ladies, but hang in there until chapter 31… where godly women are put up on a pedestal!

A Brawling Woman in a Wide House

A. What is a Brawling Woman?

1. Brawling defined: Strife; dissention; quarrelsome; the source or object of contention.

2. The brawling woman is not a woman who gets in barroom brawls. She is not a lady wrestler. (She may be that too, but that’s not what the term implies.)

3. The brawling woman is a wife who is constantly arguing or quarreling over everything.

a. She argues over money.

b. She argues over the kids.

c. She argues over fixing the house. (He doesn’t do it)

d. She argues over her to do list that never gets done.

e. She argues over how loud her husband is.

f. She argues over the fact that he buys stupid things and wastes money.

g. She argues over him leaving dirty socks on the floor.

h. She argues over how he squeezes the toothpaste.

i. She argues over how he never says “I’m sorry.”

j. She argues over how he never buys her presents.

k. She argues over how lazy he is.

l. She argues over how he doesn’t spend enough time with the kids.

m. She argues because he doesn’t read his Bible enough.

n. She argues over how he lets the bills pile up.

o. She argues over the mistakes he makes in the checkbook.

p. She argues over all the broken things around the house he never fixes.

q. She argues that he spends too much time outside the home… with his golf club and baseball league… and hunting buddies. (He may not even like golfing or hunting!)

r. She is constantly correcting him… pointing out his faults… reminding him of his failures… shortcomings… sins…

s. She argues over her husband’s personality, his attitude, his sloppiness, his language, his lousy driving… and the list goes on endlessly.

4. This is the brawling woman.

a. She is a fighter. She complains bickers, argues, and is full of contention.

b. Anything and everything that is not up to her standards is a cause for another fight… more nagging… more complaining, until she gets her own way.

c. Brawling is her nature. She is contentious by nature.

d. Some people actually ENJOY fighting… they enjoy making life miserable for others. It is a sadistic kind of joy.

e. The brawling woman is not a happy person, so the only outlet she knows is to make those around her unhappy too. Misery loves company.

f. If her husband isn’t presently doing anything she can complain about, she will dig up OLD sins out of the closet, and beat up on him for that.

g. She LOOKS for things to fight over… silly, unimportant things that a sensible woman would ignore. She makes mountains out of molehills.

h. Solomon was a keen observer of human nature.
• Evidently he saw many examples of brawling women, and decided to write a proverb about it.
• And when you consider Solomon’s home life, he may well be the world’s premier expert on the subject: he had 700 wives and 300 concubines!
» Without question, some of those wives were contentious.
» In fact, that polygamous household BREEDS contention. It was never God’s original plan.
» Thus, Solomon lived in an incubator of contentious women.
» That polygamous environment BRED contention. Read in the Old Testament about all the family squabbles and contentions among wives in those situations. (Sarah & Hagar; Hannah and Peninnah; etc.)
» Imagine trying to keep 900 women happy? Well, it is probably impossible… and that is because it was never God’s plan.
» Solomon wrote about something with which he was personally familiar.

• In fact he wrote at least five proverbs about contentious wives!
• This issue is nothing new. It existed in Solomon’s day, and it exists in our day too.
• It has existed ever since SIN entered into the Garden of Eden and ruined the perfection of the original world and the original husband-wife relationship created by God.
• Sin ruins everything… including marriages and home life.
• Sin will ruin your marriage and mine too if we let it.

5. Two other proverbs speak of the CONTINUAL nature of the contentions of a brawling woman.

a. Prov. 27:15 – A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
• When it rained, the rain would saturate the flat, sod roof.
• Thus, during heavy rain, the roof would leak. Drip, drip, drip!
• And because the roofs were often sod, long after the storm was over, and the clouds were gone, the saturated roof would CONTINUE to leak… drip, drip, drip!
• A contentious wife was like that roof. She nags and nags. And even after the fight is over… she keeps on bringing it up again… drip, drip, drip!

b. Prov. 19:13 – the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.

c. The point of these proverbs is the relentless nature of her nagging and contentions. They are endless.

d. They drive her husband away. They live in a beautiful, comfortable, wide house with lots of space and amenities, but he wants OUT.

e. But she follows him all around the wide house—arguing and nit picking and complaining and everything under the sun.

f. The wide house doesn’t provide him with what he really needs: a place to get away from her!

6. In this proverb, Solomon lets us know that there IS such a thing as a contentious, brawling woman.
a. The proverb serves as a warning to women: don’t BE one!

b. The proverb serves as a warning to men: don’t MARRY one!

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop

1. The scene Solomon paints is one of a contentious woman, through continually nagging and fighting, drives her husband away.

a. Solomon is not endorsing divorce or separation in this passage.

b. He is simply stating it as it is, not the way it SHOULD be… not the way God WANTS it to be… not the way it OUGHT to be, but the way it is.

c. Nagging wives drive their husbands away.

d. They can’t take it anymore, and end up seeking some other place to live.

2. In this case, the husband moves up on the roof!

a. This might sound odd, except for the fact that the roves of those homes were usually flat.

b. On the flat roof there was often an extra room and/or a patio, where you could sit on a warm night to feel the breeze.

c. The contrast in the proverb is between the WIDE house, and the small space up on the roof.
• The term “wide” is variously translated as “wide” or “shared” or “association.”
• It may simply refer to a house that is “shared”… implying more space perhaps.

d. The husband of the nagging wife would rather live up there on the roof, than have to contend with his wife in his wide, comfortable, shared living spacious home below.

e. Having a nice, comfortable home is not very comfortable if you are arguing and fighting all the time.

f. This man decided to build himself a room on the roof rather than stay in the house and argue all the time.

3. To the man who is sick and tired of fighting, this is BETTER.

a. It is preferable than the alternative.

b. At least up there on the roof he can have a little peace of mind… a respite… a retreat away from the constant bickering.

c. Rather, he is warning wives what NOT to do… by showing them the results of such behavior.

d. If you want to keep your husband and not drive him away, then don’t BE a contentious wife… don’t be a brawling woman.

e. NOT fighting is better than fighting.

4. Prov. 21:19 – It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.

a. This seems more serious.

b. In vs. 9, the husband of a contentious wife moves up on the roof.

c. In vs. 19, the husband doesn’t even want to be anywhere NEAR her. He flees for the wilderness.

d. He prefers to live with the wild beasts than a contentious wife.

e. It is the same situation that drove this man away. It simply drove him FURTHER away.

f. Perhaps this man isn’t coming back.

g. One proverb may be speaking about a miserable marriage that is just barely endured… they remain married, but separate.

h. The other proverb speaks of a miserable marriage that ends… perhaps in divorce… or desertion.

5. Solomon also wrote a couple of other proverbs that consider the question of HOW to deal with contention.

a. Prov. 26:20 – Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. (same word as brawling)
• When there is constant fighting, one sure way to END the fighting is put an end to the FUEL.
• If you stop throwing wood into the fire, the fire will die out… eventually.
• If you refuse to add FUEL to an argument, it too will eventually die out.
• Even a contentious wife will grow tired of fighting with a husband who refuses to fight back.

b. Prov. 18:18 – The LOT causes the contention (same word) to cease.
• Another suggestion that Solomon offers to constant fighting (especially over silly things) is to cast a lot… or flip a coin.
• It is not the BEST way to settle arguments, but it is better than an unending fight where neither side gives in.
• When both sides are unbendable, inflexible, stubborn, and unwilling to make any compromises, then flipping a coin isn’t such a bad idea.
• If you want to buy a Ford and your wife insists on a Chevy, then flip a coin. End of argument!
• You’d be surprised how well that can work… and how quickly the argument can end.

c. Of course under GRACE, we have a much better method of dealing with contention in the home. (Phil. 2:1-5)
• We are to esteem others BETTER than ourselves.
• We are to demonstrate the LOVE of Christ.
• We are to manifest the MIND of Christ… who was willing to sacrifice SELF for the good of others.
• We are to manifest the LIFE of Christ in our homes.
• When that is the case, it’s mighty hard to keep a fight going.

d. Life can be MISERABLE with a brawling wife.
• Men, be thankful for the wife God gave you!
• Be appreciative of a godly Christian wife who makes home a place you WANT to be…