"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones"
This verse deals with a forgotten subject in today's Christianity – the conduct of wives and its effect on their husbands. There are actions of a wife that can mightily bless or curse her husband.
The word excellent is the Hebrew hayil which means mighty, powerful, able, virtuous. It has been translated excellent in the NASB. The word moves in the direction of virtue or moral mightiness – the actions of virtue and moral excellence that a wife can do to bring great honor and respect to the husband. If she searches for the positives in her husband and takes the morally high road in her interactions with people, this brings a whole new glow to his life.
We can understand the word excellent or virtuous also by seeing its results and contrasts in this verse. The proverb is very interesting in that it intimates results and contrasts ideas that we would not.
crown of her husband
A wife's virtue causes a crown to be placed on her husband's life. Look at the possible implications or definitions of this crown on her husband's life: to potentially have more authority in his dealings with others, to carry a beauty and wonder not normally associated with that man, to adorn him.
These results would suggest that the word excellent or virtuous has to do with what she does to her husband directly and what she does to and for others.
One would not normally suggest that moral virtue is the opposite of shaming a person. But in this verse, this is the contrast. It means that Scripture feels that if a person is honest and trustworthy but shames others with their speech and conduct, then they are not a virtuous person.
Unfortunately, one of the regular habits of many wives is rehearsing all the bad, stupid, or ridiculous tendencies in their husbands. This expose’ of his faults clearly comes under the title of shaming her husband, and it means he is viewed with suspicion by others. She has been sucked into the temptation to gossip and even slander. These are serious errors and undermine the type of marriage that she wants.
rottenness in his bones
This is an unseen disease. He remains largely unaware that his reputation and standing in the community is largely being corrupted by his wife's lack of virtue. She has crossed the line into gossip and slander. He pays the price through a diminished capacity to reach his full potential.
This means that virtue and moral excellence in a wife turns away from gossip and slander opportunities, especially when they involve intimate, negative details about her husband. It also means that a virtuous and morally excellent wife focuses on the positive, on building up her husband, on openly admiring her husband, and on steering clear of those who would engage in slam sessions on their husbands.