The Proverbs offer us many truths to add value to our lives and enhance our living. But first and foremost, the book of Proverbs promises to deliver us from evil.
The essential traits of discretion and understanding bear enormous power to keep us out of harm’s way. Since our world is replete with evil of every kind, evil from within and evil from without, we have serious need of avoiding exposure. To completely destroy evil is a lofty dream and a charming idea… but it’s not reality. As followers of God, we cannot change the nature of the world in which we live. We don’t really want to try.
Like a fish out of water, its job is not to change the natural properties of the atmosphere to make it adaptable to fish’s gills. It does better by figuring out how to avoid air. In similar manner, we can spread the truth and champion righteousness, but the actual changing of the environment is God’s business – not ours. And change it He will, in His time.
The Proverbs wisely implore us not get rid of evil, but to protect ourselves from it. The writers knew evil would always be here with us until God dealt with it. So the challenge for us is not to eradicate, but to educate. We must learn what lurks out there and know how to identify it so that we can keep clear of it.
“Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you, to deliver you from the way of evil… “
It is by ignorance and foolishness that lives are destroyed by evil. The person who doesn’t know not to do something or cares not to know will suffer consequences. It is as sure as the darkness following the light of day.
God’s wisdom delivers what nothing else can: discretion and understanding. Discretion comes from Hebrew words meaning “consider” and “purpose”. The idea conveyed is that of planning thoughts, or having a purpose in thinking. This rendition is appropriate because in the world, identifying evil is not always automatic – it’s not always simple. Evil doesn’t usually present itself with horns and pitchforks and fire. Often, evil comes graciously, calmly, with an air of confidence and good will. So to identify it for what it is a wise person needs discretion – calculated thought, with a purpose in mind.
One of the most effective devices Satan uses to lure people into traps is lack of thought. Mental lethargy. If he can get people to be mindless about their decisions, people will do amazingly stupid things, and plunge themselves into heartache, pain and even death. How many lives are ruined by mental sloth!
God implores us to think, and think much. He beckons us to read and study and know. He calls us to absorb His word daily so that our minds are prepared for the onslaught each day will bring.
How to be delivered from evil? Discretion and understanding. Deep and focused consideration of life and decisions. And where do we get this? God’s Holy Word.
Deliver us from evil, oh Lord!