So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.
Here is a prince – crowned with life and decorated with grace. Here is a successful man or woman – living a great life with a glorious reputation. Here is prosperity – saved from painful living and public shame. The man who keeps sound wisdom and discretion will have a wonderful life and a great name. Reader, what hinders you from being a prince?
The proverb concludes a sentence, which states, “My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion” (Pr 3:21). The plural pronoun “them” refers to wisdom, understanding, and knowledge in the context (Pr 3:13-20). Life for your soul and grace for your neck are based on steadily following sound wisdom and discretion.
What is sound wisdom? It is real wisdom, true wisdom, the wisdom of God. The wisdom of this world – abortion, divorce, evolution, fornication, labor unions, rap, sodomy – is foolishness. The wise men of this world – Darwin, Einstein, Marx, Sagan, Spock – are fools (Is 8:20; I Cor 1:20; 2:6; 3:19). Sound wisdom comes only from God and the Bible (Pr 2:7; 8:14; I Tim 1:10; II Tim 4:3-4). It is the only wisdom you should want or keep.
What is discretion? It knows what words or actions are best for any occasion. It knows what, when, where, and how to do anything. It is the reservation that holds a person back from foolish impulsiveness. It is discipline and self-denial to not speak the first words you think or not do the first thing that comes to mind. It is discerning and discriminating judgment to know the best approach and response to any situation.
What is “life unto thy soul”? Depressed, dysfunctional, or destructive living is like death. True wisdom and discretion give a happy and successful life rather than this death. They keep you from making fatal mistakes, and they increase and extend a good life. Solomon had already given a great description of the good life in the context (Pr 3:13-18).
What is “grace to thy neck”? Ornamentation or jewelry is often put around a person’s neck to show glory, honor, or reward. Consider the neck chains Pharaoh gave Joseph and Belshazzar gave Daniel (Gen 41:42; Dan 5:29). Wisdom and discretion enhance and exalt a man’s reputation, as if he had been awarded a gold chain by a great king (Pr 1:9).
Living a happy life and having a great reputation require godly wisdom and discretion (Pr 4:5-13; Ps 34:12-15). This is the lesson of the proverb. The Lord God of heaven will teach wisdom and discretion to any man who will despise his own thoughts, repent of his sins, and follow the teaching of the Bible. The purpose of the Bible, especially Proverbs, is to teach wisdom and discretion for a successful life (Pr 1:1-6; Ps 1:1-3; 19:7-14).
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