He holds victory in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.
Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
—Proverbs 2: 7-11, 20
As if "finding the knowledge of God" were not enough, Solomon lays out the other gifts that come with seeking after God's wisdom: protection and discretion.
Much of Proverbs details the protections and provisions of godly wisdom. Protections against evildoers and tempters, against overindulgence and laziness, against bad company and greed. Its teachings give guidance about friendships, integrity, kindness, governing our tongue, seeking advice. As we listen to the Spirit and heed these instructions, our ability to live lives marked by discretion grows.
The definition of discretion in Merriam-Webster includes “the quality of having discernment or good judgment; the ability to make responsible decisions and the ability to separate and distinguish that which is right.” In other words, a way to keep to the paths of the righteous.
Not that we can always make sense of the world. But constant reliance on the Spirit gives us the wisdom to trust God to show us the next right choice, even when we don't understand. Author John Powell suggests He "widens my vision, helps me see what is really important…He comes to me, in the listening, receptive moments of prayer, and he transfuses his power into me."
As the book of Proverbs points us to life-giving choices, some of us may want to shut the book due to our past mistakes and sins, when we did not heed the wisdom. Fortunately, God's mercies are new every morning! We can start where we are; He promises wisdom not to perfect people, but to all who seek Him. Hallelujah!
Questions for reflection and discussion: How has God provided discernment for you in the past? Where do you currently need help to distinguish what is right? Ask God for that wisdom now.