What does Proverbs 3:22 mean?
ESV: and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck.
NIV: they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.
NASB: And they will be life to your soul And adornment to your neck.
CSB: They will be life for you and adornment for your neck.
NLT: for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace.
KJV: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.
Verse Commentary:
Here we see the benefits of sound wisdom and discretion: the "they" referred to here are those qualities from the prior verse. While wisdom implies the ability to act on knowledge, discretion is the capacity to closely assess something. The Hebrew word translated as "discretion" is me-zim'māh', which includes ideas like plotting, planning, and analyzing. A "wise" person knows how to apply their knowledge in a godly way. A "discerning" person is careful and precise in making decisions.

These two attributes bring the benefits of life and a good reputation. All who believe on Jesus as Savior receive abundant life (John 10:10). When Jesus promised the woman at Jacob's well that she would never thirst again if she drank from His well, He said, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13–14). A spring of water differs from an ordinary well, because it is an artesian well with its source higher than its outflow. It bubbles and gushes! Similarly, the life Jesus gives has energy and force. The Christian life, therefore, is not stagnant but energetic to the benefit of all who witness it. It is like an attractive necklace that people observe with admiration.
Verse Context:
Proverbs 3:13–26 extols the virtue of wisdom. Solomon began this discussion in chapter 1, and explained in chapter 2 that the Lord gives wisdom to the upright. Now he describes as blessed the person who finds wisdom, and explains its benefits and applications. Wisdom, as used in this book, refers to the ability to apply godly knowledge. While not a guarantee someone will act accordingly, having a grasp of God's intent for our lives is immensely valuable.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter of Proverbs is addressed to Solomon's son. The term, ''my son'' occurs 15 times in chapters 1—7. The words may apply to one of Solomon's students in his court or to one of his biological sons. The application of wisdom in Proverbs 3 shows the benefits of trusting in the Lord with one's whole heart. Solomon credits obedience to and trust in God for longevity, success, guidance, health, reward that exceeds monetary wealth, enjoyment, peace, security, confidence, excellent human relationships, the Lord's blessing and favor, and honor. As with all ''proverbs,'' biblical or otherwise, their purpose is to impart general wisdom, not absolute prophecy. Like the original audience, modern readers are not expected to see these guidelines as absolute guarantees for any one person.
Chapter Context:
This passage lies in the second section of the book, found in chapters 1—9. The author, King Solomon, reigned over Israel from 971 to 931 BC. The first section of Proverbs, the preface, is found in Proverbs 1:1–7. The third section, chapters 10—22, were also written by Solomon. These proverbs were likely written by Solomon in his middle years, whereas he probably wrote Song of Songs in his early adulthood, and Ecclesiastes near the end of his life. As in the first two chapters, wisdom is stressed in Proverbs 3.
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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