What does Proverbs 2:11 mean?
ESV: discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you,
NIV: Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.
NASB: Discretion will watch over you, Understanding will guard you,
CSB: Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you.
NLT: Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.
KJV: Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
NKJV: Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you,
Verse Commentary:
Verses 11 and 12 bring justice to the forefront, and begin to contrast the means of our protection—virtuous living—against the consequences we're protected from by virtue. Namely, the evils of those who do not live virtuously.

Here, Solomon tells us that discretion and understanding will protect us. Discretion can be defined as the quality of having or showing discernment. We are also told here that discretion will guard us. According to a common English adage, each person has two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak. That, in a nutshell, is a form of discretion that will guard us from many problems. Similarly, James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

Having discretion can keep us from all of the trouble that being rash or having knee jerk reactions may cause. Likewise, understanding, as used in the book of Proverbs, is mastery of a subject. First Corinthians 6:12–20 tells us that we are to be holy in our bodies because we are joined together with Christ. Our body is no longer our own but belongs to Christ. Therefore, we are to show mastery over our body by being holy. This is the understanding that will watch over us.

As used here in the book of Proverbs, discretion protects our mind, and understanding watches over our body.
Verse Context:
Proverbs 2:9–15 refines our understanding of justice, which is possibly the most difficult of the four virtues to master. We have long misunderstood justice as fairness or equality. Everyone is familiar with the common complaint ''that's not fair.'' This is often expressed when someone perceives that they are not being treated identically to others. However, true justice makes no claim to be equal; instead it is equitable. Justice can be defined as giving each person their due. Justice is absolutely fair, it is not necessarily equal.
Chapter Summary:
In Proverbs chapter 2, Solomon highlights various virtues, as well as provides encouragement to live a virtuous life. As in chapter 1, specific concepts wil reoccur, and are used in certain ways. Here, these are ideas such as courage, integrity, wisdom, and justice. The gist of this passage is the positive effect that virtue—including these various aspects—will have on one's life. In contrast, those who pursue non-virtuous living will suffer dire consequences.
Chapter Context:
The overarching theme of Proverbs chapter 2 is the relationship between virtue and discernment. As described here, virtuous living is moral living. As a person strives to live a moral life, he or she develops a greater ability to discern right from wrong. Further, beyond simple matters of right and wrong, as virtue grows within a person, he or she becomes more proficient at discerning trickier situations. Real life predicaments often present two or more seemingly valid options. Discernment, then, also includes determining which of many different options is actually best. Likewise, many life situations appear to offer only a variety of bad options. There, discernment is once again required, to determine which option presents the correct choice, or to recognize where a ''good'' option has been hidden.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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