Sunday, January 19, 2014 4:49 AM

Biblical Discretion

Sunday, January 19, 2014 4:49 AM
Sunday, January 19, 2014 4:49 AM

Biblical Discretion

Discretion, i.e., the ability to make proper decisions

The book of Proverbs contains the broadest range of meaning relative to this term. There is a sharp division between the negative concept of “men who devise evil” and the positive notion of “discretion.” The former occurs only in conjunction with the nouns “man” (Prov 12:2; 14:17) and “possessor” (Prov 24:8), and in each case the plural is used. A “man of schemes” or “who devises evil” is readily condemned and hated (Prov 12:2; 14:17).

The singular form, however, receives the consistently positive meaning of “discretion” the five times it appears. This use occurs in Prov 1:4; 5:2; 8:12, where it is linked with “knowledge” and “prudence.” In Prov 2:11; 3:21 “discretion,” like her sisters, “understanding” and “sound wisdom,” guards one’s life from harm. Hence, within Proverbs 1–8 “discretion” ranks as one of the key terms for wisdom employed by the author.

The verb occurs only twice, in Prov, once with the normal meaning of “plot” (Prov 30:32), and once in the sense of “consider” (31:16). This latter meaning is found in the epilogue of the book, a poem honoring the woman who exemplifies wisdom at its best. This excellent wife “considers a field and buys it.” Instead of spending her time dreaming up wicked schemes, she makes plans that will bring great benefit to her family.

Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (244–245). Chicago: Moody Press

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