That you may observe discretion and your lips may reserve knowledge
observe: This is the Hebrew word samar which means to keep guard, observe, give heed to. This is a fascinating insight that Solomon shares in this verse. He is saying that young people can flush their ability to make their own choices and plans through sin. How many times have I watched as men and women have made idiotic decisions that don’t make any sense until you factor in some relationship, some sin, some addiction, some illicit activity. They were protecting or guarding the foolish thing, the sinful thing, and flushing their own life.
Solomon is screaming at us: DON’T BE SUCKED INTO FOOLISHNESS (especially sexual foolishness)! YOU WILL FLUSH YOUR ABILITY TO CHOOSE WISELY.
discretion: This is the Hebrew word mezimma which means purpose or plot. This is the ability to make plans, to set goals, to make decisions both in the short term and long range. Solomon is saying that if you do not embrace wisdom, you will lose your ability to plan and make decisions. You will be robbed of your ability to make a wise decision by other factors.
The translators have chosen the word discretion because the English word means the ability to make responsible decisions and the power to make free decisions within an acceptable range. The idea here is that when one gives up their discretion, they no longer have the ability to make a free choice. There is someone or something that is influencing their choice so that it is no longer really free and uncoerced. In this case it means that getting involved in adultery robs one of this crucial ability.
You are no longer free because you have been hooked. You are asked to make decisions that you shouldn’t even face. You feel pulls in directions that you shouldn’t even be considering. You are conflicted and stretched in ways that will clearly distort your ability to make a wise decision.
Watch what you allow into your life; it may rob you of the ability to have a life – your ability to choose. Most people think they are still the captain of their ship, the king of their life; but many give away the ability to make wise choices to the vices they invite to live with them. They are held by the cords of their own sin as Solomon says at another point.
and your lips reserve knowledge
reserve: This is the Hebrew word nasar which means to watch, guard, keep. Solomon is saying that you will not be able to retain the knowledge you have gained or need if you continue to give in to sin. You will begin to shape the truth to fit the world you are living in – the world of self-indulgence.
knowledge: This is the Hebrew word daat which means information and skills. Solomon is saying that it is possible to let information and skills slip through your fingers if you get involved in adultery and other forms of foolishness.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.