A Wise Word

As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.”—Proverbs 11:22 (NKJV)

The Bible has a wonderful way of putting things! And this passage is one of those that grabs the attention of even the most casual reader. “A gold ring in a swine’s snout . . . A lovely woman lacking discretion . . .”  What in the world is that all about? Let’s unpack it.

For starters, the word discretion here is essentially describing discernment, good judgment, and common sense. In other words . . . it’s about wisdom, which is a word that we’re very familiar with but is often misunderstood. Wisdom isn’t just a matter of being smart or knowing a lot of information. That’s intelligence, and it may get you far on a game show but might not help you in life. 

Wisdom it much more than that. It’s an understanding of how to properly apply what you know to the constantly shifting landscapes of life. Intelligence is knowing what. But wisdom is knowing what to do with what, when to do it, how to do it, and why you should do it. That’s what this “discretion” is.

Imagine you’re on an extreme survival show. The producers have dropped you in the middle of the wilderness with nothing but a backpack with some essentials. You have until sundown to get to safety. Fortunately, you’ve been given a map with all the information telling you where that safety is. But that map is useless unless you have a compass to orient you and direct you as to which way to go. Without a compass, you’re going to wander aimlessly in the wilderness.

The map is intelligence, but the compass is wisdom. And without wisdom, there’s no sure sense of direction. Life will be one mistake and mishap after another, because you’re not being pointed in the right direction. 

That’s how important wisdom and discretion is! And this passage is telling us that a woman who looks lovely on the outside but lacks wisdom is like a pig with a precious ring of gold in its nose. 

What’s the point of comparison? Both scenarios are so wrong! We wouldn’t look at a pig with this jewelry in its snout and say, “That’s cool . . . just let it enjoy looking like that.” No, we’d say, “That’s not right, that doesn’t belong, let’s do something about that!” 

There should be the same sense of “wrongness” when it comes to someone who may look right on the outside but are totally without wisdom on the inside. “That’s not right . . . we need to do something about that!” Let’s allow this to be a wise word for us as we consider wisdom’s importance in one’s character. Anything less would be unwise!

DIG: What’s the difference between intelligence and discretion/wisdom?

DISCOVER: What makes discretion/wisdom so valuable in life?

DO: What priority do you give to wisdom in the relationships you form in life? Where is this tendency taking you? Take inventory today.