Character Studies in Proverbs: Lesson #11 The value of discretion.

Character Studies in Proverbs : Lesson #11

The Value of Discretion (Proverbs 5:1-13) 

In this lesson on character we are going to focus on why it is necessary that a person has discretion. As you look around in society today it doesn’t take long to see that people are lacking discretion.  It seems that not only do the kids not have discretion but the adults have no discretion either which tells us why the kids have no discretion.

During this lesson we are going to take Proverbs chapter 5 as a whole chapter because it goes together very nicely. Keeping the topic centered on discretion we will look at why we need discretion, examples of no discretion, and the results of having no discretion.

Why we need discretion :

Before we discuss why we need discretion we should define what discretion is. In defining discretion we will define both discreet and discretion because as we will see both are used in a King James Bible in regards to giving or teaching them to young people.

Discreet – “Prudent, wise in avoiding errors or evil, and in selecting the best means to accomplish a purpose.” [American Dictionary of the           English Language, Noah Webster, 1828]

Discretion – “Prudence, or knowledge and prudence; that discernment which enables a person to judge critically of what is correct and proper, united with caution.” [American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828]

With the definition alone you can see why it is important that a person, especially a young person would need to have discretion. In verse 2 we see a simple reason given for why we need discretion. It is so that our lips will keep knowledge. This is a very interesting verse because it shows us something in regards to how we can see if a person has discretion. One of the ways that you can tell if a person has discretion is by what comes out of their mouths. People today will talk about any subject no matter how inappropriate it is, and this includes saved people as well. For a modern day example look at the social networking site called facebook.  It is unreal some of the things that people put on that site and I am referring to saved people. Another good example is how vulgar and disrespectful kids talk and act both at school and at home. People simply lack the discretion that is so needed.

The main reason that a person needs discretion is found in verse 21. Note that in this verse that the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord and he pondereth all his goings. This tells us that God sees and knows everything and nothing escapes him. Many times kids will act and talk differently when their parents are not around and they think they are getting away with it but the truth of the matter is that God sees all and sooner or later it will catch up to him (1 Peter 3:12 ; Numbers 32:23).

Many will say I don’t understand why the youth of today are acting the way they are acting when the truth of the matter is that many times the parents are not acting any better. Go out in the public and look at how adults dress and act then you will see why kids are are acting the way they are. Look at the sports heroes, actors and other superstars and then you will understand why our kids have no discretion. This is why the word of God says that we have to teach young people discretion, it does not come naturally it must be taught. But remember that for parents to teach discretion they must first have it themselves.

Proverbs 1:4 “To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.”

Titus 2:4-5 “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,”

“To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

From these verses we see that the Proverbs were written to give young men discretion and it will also give young women discretion. We also see from Titus that the aged women in the church are supposed to teach the younger women in the church to be discreet. Discretion does not come natural it must be taught.

Examples of those without discretion :

In this Proverb we see the strange woman in verses 3-6. We also see the example of a man that would go in unto her in verse 20. Therefore we have two examples of those who have no discretion. Both the harlot and the one who goes to the harlot have no discretion. This example is in regards to sex outside of marriage and is sin according to the word of God, but this once again shows us that the world we live in today has no discretion. This sin is widespread among not only adults but also among teenagers too.

The passage could also be applied spiritually in other ways. There are many ways in which people sell themselves to the world or to worshipping things of the world instead of God. This could apply to drugs, alcohol, pornography, entertainment and so on. There are many people who would not physically do these things but they watch them every day on their TV or read about them in their fiction novels. Why do you think that most shows or movies have to have a warning that says viewer discretion is advised? It is because the viewers have no discretion.

This should be a sad realization to see that we do not have discretion we are likened in the word of God to a harlot and a person who would go to a harlot.

The results of having no discretion :

The results are listed plainly in the text for us to see and it doesn’t take much imagination for us to see how they follow the things listed above.

1)  Lest thou give thine honor unto others and thy years unto the cruel (verse 9)

  • This is plain in regards to sexual sins once your honor is gone it is never gotten back. That is why you must have discretion especially in that category.
  • This will also apply to drugs or alcohol abuse. Drug addicts and alcoholics have no honor they will do anything to get another drink or drug.
  • The last part of the verse will apply very well to criminals. When a young person lacks the ability to make wise choices in staying out of sin he can wind up giving his years to the cruel in the form of prison.

2)  Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth, and they labours be in the house of a stranger.   (verse 10)

  • Without discretion sin of any nature eventually robs us of our wealth. Take for instance who gets rich of the drugs usually it is not the one doing the drugs.
  • As a result of sin many men lose their families and their labors are spent in someone house of a stranger. Sometimes sin puts us in bondage and people end up serving other their whole life and never really having anything of their own.

3)  And thou morn at the last when thy flesh and thy body are consumed (verse 12)

  • It is easy to see how this applies to being the result of sexually transmitted diseases and the result of drug and alcohol abuse.
  • We can also apply this to being the result of wasting your life serving sin and then being sorrow when you are old and want to serve God and do not have the physical ability.

4)  The lack of discretion leads to hating instruction and despising reproof (verse 13-14)

  • Remember that discretion has to be taught and if it is not taught early it is extremely hard to teach because the lack of discretion causes people to hate instruction and reproof.

5)  Without discretion you are just a puppet to whatever is your master and you will serve it until death (verses 22-23)

  • It is funny how teenagers and adults who rebel against authority think they are free and have no restrictions on their lives, when in reality they are puppets on a string obeying their flesh and the devil.
  • The only real freedom is in the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 8:36 ; Galatians 5:1)

Character Studies in Proverbs : Lesson #11 Handout

The Value of Discretion (Proverbs 5:1-13)

1)  What is Discretion?


2)  Why do we need Discretion? Give a verse for your answer.


3)  Show scripture for the fact that both young men and young ladies need to be taught discretion.


4)  What is the example given in Proverbs Chapter 5 of a person with no discretion?


5)  In what ways can we apply this to our lives?


6)  List the results of having no discretion. Give verses for each result.