The right tool makes all the difference. This year my favorite knife had a few unfortunate moments. Boy, do I miss that knife. Bill bought me a cheaper (but very nice!!) knife for Christmas and it’s really making my kitchen work more enjoyable. They should have me do a commercial for this knife. A good knife makes you feel like a real chef.
I’ve found that reading the Proverbs requires a few good tools. The first one I’d like to mention is a dictionary. You can’t get as much out of the Proverbs if you don’t really know what the words mean. And I’ve found that I can think I know what a word means….but when I look it up I’m amazed at the richness of meaning that I was unaware of.
Let’s look at one such word……discretion.
” Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. ” Proverbs 11:22
What do you think that means? Is the woman with discretion someone who’s quiet? Modest? Doesn’t gossip? What exactly is this Proverb getting at?
When I pull out my dictionary I find 4 different definitions for this word. Each definition is used in different contexts. The definition that would apply to this context is:
Quality of being discreet; prudence; hence, cautious reserve, especially in speech.
So….the beautiful woman without discretion is the woman who is not careful. She’s careful with her looks…..but not as careful about other things…..especially about what comes out of her mouth. In this day when our culture is comfortable exposing all kinds of details about oneself, it’s a wise and friendly voice calling us to hold back some things (reserve). I’ve found this helpful even in our church culture which values knowing one another. It’s helped me to realize that there are times when it’s wise not to say everything. To choose my words carefully.
The other tool I want to mention is my ESV Study Bible. This Bible is so helpful! I lug it with me even when I travel, because of the value of the notes. Here’s the study note for this verse:
“The attractiveness of a gold ring would be nullified by its strange presence in the snout of a pig. This image turns typical notions of value on their head: the attractiveness of a beautiful woman is insignificant if there is a lack of discretion in her character.”
I love that…..”turns typical notions of value on their head”. Have you noticed that the Bible regularly questions what we value, constantly challenging it? What God values isn’t what the world values. It’s easy to forget that God’s opinion is permanent and worth listening to. The Proverbs is our friend helping us remember.
Proverbs Ch. 15-21 questions.