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Blog - Proverbs 2:11

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For all the blogs in this series, click here: Proverbs Commentary.

Proverbs 2:11

"Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:" (Pro 2:11)


When wisdom enters into the heart, one of its effects is the cultivation of discretion which is the "ability to discern or distinguish what is right, befitting, or advisable, esp. as regards one's own conduct or action; the quality of being discreet; discernment; prudence, sagacity, circumspection, sound judgement" (OED). As was noted in the comments on Pro 2:8, to preserve is to "keep safe from harm or injury; to keep in safety, save, take care of, guard" (OED). Therefore, having the ability to discern what is right with regards to his conduct will save a man from much trouble, hardship, and harm in life.

On the day of Pentecost, three thousand Jews, whom God had given new hearts capable of feeling the pricks caused by the preaching of the gospel (Act 2:37), repented and were baptized, "sav[ing] [them]selves from this untoward generation" (Act 2:40). They had the prudence to foresee the evil and hide themselves (Pro 27:12), and their discretion preserved them from an evil generation and its corrupting influence.

When the wise men who came to worship the newborn Messiah were told by Herod the king to report back to him on the location of the King of the Jews so that he too could worship Him (Mat 2:8), wisdom entered their hearts via a dream from God, and discretion preserved them as they hearkened unto wisdom and "departed into their country another way"(Mat 2:12).

When the apostle Paul was made aware that the governor of the city of Damascus sought to apprehend him with a garrison of soldiers because of his mighty influence preaching the gospel, discretion preserved him when he used sound judgment to escape during the night by being let down by the wall through a window in a basket (2Co 11:32-33).

During Israel's sojourning in the land of Egypt, when the Hebrew midwives were given an ungodly order from the king to kill all of the baby boys that were born to the Jews (Exo 1:15-16), they disobeyed, making up a story to cover for themselves (Exo 1:19), and "saved the men children alive" (Exo 1:17). Discretion not only saved them (Exo 1:20-21), but also the lives of many innocent children.

When Joshua sent spies into Jericho to bring back an intelligence report on the city, they lodged in the house of Rahab the harlot. When the king sent men of the city to her home looking for the men of Israel, Rahab's discretion preserved both her and them when she hid them on the roof and righteously lied to the officials, saying they went out another way (Jos 2:3-6).

When Nehemiah was in the process of leading the effort to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, his enemies who opposed the rebuilding project sought to lure him into a meeting with them by deceit in order to bring down both him and those he led. Through the wisdom given him by the Almighty, Nehemiah sagely perceived their duplicity, recognizing that "they thought to do me mischief" (Neh 6:2), and prudently declined their offer to meet four times (Neh 6:3-4). Discretion preserved him and the great work which he oversaw.

Like the Jews on the day of Pentecost, the wise men who visited Christ after His birth, the apostle Paul, the Hebrew midwives, Rahab, and Nehemiah, Christians should be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Mat 10:16), applying the principles taught by God in the scripture, "walk[ing] circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise" (Eph 5:15), and using their God-given discretion to save themselves and those around them.

Understanding shall keep thee. As was mentioned in the comments on Pro 2:8, to keep is "to guard, defend, protect, preserve, save" (OED). Receiving the word of God which has been grafted into the heart by way of the operation of God in regeneration is the means by which a child of God can save, or keep, his soul temporally.

Jas 1:21 - Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

God first "worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Php 2:13) by the sovereign act of the new birth wherein He spiritually implants a new heart in a man and writes His law therein (Heb 8:10). Once a child of God is in possession of that new heart with the law of God engraved upon it, the written word of God when read or heard can then be received into that heart, fitting into the sockets prepared for it by the LORD. That word, when received and put into practice (Jam 1:21-22) by way of the understanding imparted by God (Pro 2:6-10), will preserve and keep the obedient Christian from living a life displeasing to God.

Understanding, which is acquired through studying the word of God, when gotten and not forsaken, will keep a believer from error, lies, and foolish decisions. When God's commandments are kept by His children, God will in turn "keep [them] from evil" (2Th 3:3) and "keep [them] from falling" (Jud 1:24) by giving them understanding which enables them to act wisely and avoid foolish decisions and actions that would be their destruction.

Pro 4:5-6 - Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.

Pro 6:20-22 - My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. 22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.



If you like this blog, then you will like Get Wisdom, Get Understanding which is Pastor Wagner's commentary on Proverbs chapter 1 which is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. Find out more here.

For the previous blog in this series, click here: Proverbs 2:10.
For the next blog in this series, click here: Proverbs 2:12.

For all the blogs in this series, click here: Proverbs Commentary.

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