Proverbs 3:21

ESV My son, do not lose sight of these— keep sound wisdom and discretion,
NIV My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion;
NASB My son, see that they do not escape from your sight; Comply with sound wisdom and discretion,
CSB Maintain sound wisdom and discretion. My son, don't lose sight of them.
NLT My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them,
KJV My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:

What does Proverbs 3:21 mean?

Wisdom is a term already used frequently in Proverbs. In this book, it refers to an ability to apply godly knowledge. In prior verses, Solomon depicted wisdom as a woman (Proverbs 1:20; 3:14). True wisdom includes not just intellectual prowess but also correct moral judgment. In this verse "sound judgment" means victory or the success that results from having wisdom.

Here, the concept of discretion is applauded. In English, the word discretion implies making sound decisions, especially between options—it emphasizes an ability to separate between subtly different things. In Hebrew, the word is me-zim'māh', which includes many different ideas, including plotting, planning, and careful thought. Having the quality of discretion means carefully assessing how and when to act, or not, under circumstances that require it.

Joshua urged his generation to make the right decision, the one he had made. He said he and his house would serve the Lord, and he challenged the Israelites to choose whom they would serve. He said, "Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD…choose this day whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:14–15).

Christians, too, need the ability to make right decisions. We must refuse to let the world squeeze us into its mold and instead yield our body and mind to the Lord for the performance of His good, acceptable, and perfect will (Romans 12:1–2). That does not always come with easy, simple, clear choices—we often must use our own discretion (1 Corinthians 10:23; Romans 14:23).
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