“As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion” (Proverbs 11:22).
Though pigs are considered unclean, they do have rather cute faces. Yet it would be foolish to fix a ring of fine gold into a pig’s snout, only to see it trashed in the mud a few minutes later. Similarly, no matter how attractive an indiscreet woman may be, her lack of discretion dirties her.
As begotten daughters of God, we as women must be sure to learn and apply the biblical quality of discretion.
God’s word is always our foundation and guide, and gives the excellent example of a woman who epitomized discretion. Her name was Abigail.
Abigail had a husband called Nabal, whose name means ‘Fool’ (1 Samuel 25:25). He certainly did not deserve such a good wife as Abigail, but she always tried to act in his best interests. She was aid to be “a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance,” (v. 3) but her husband was surly and harsh in his dealings with people.
David (the future King of Israel) and his men had been kind to Nabal’s men at sheep-shearing time and they had not ill-treated them nor stolen anything from them. Indeed they had acted “like a wall” (v. 16) around them, protecting them from marauders.
Therefore at a festive time David sent some of his men to ask for food from Nabal—who was a wealthy man—but Nabal refused and answered them rudely (vv. 10-11). David and his men would really only have been receiving payment for the service they had afforded Nabal’s men.
As soon as Abigail heard about her husband’s imprudent response she immediately discerned the danger of the situation, and being a sagacious woman she acted quickly with practical good sense. She ordered donkeys to be loaded with all kinds of food items. She then rode with them to meet David, who was already advancing to take vengeance on Nabal and his household (v. 20).
When Abigail met up with David she acted humbly and “fell on her face before David.” Unlike her husband (v. 10), Abigail knew and believed in the Lord’s destiny for David and that he would one day be ruler of Israel (v. 30).
Abigail then showed herself to be a very persuasive speaker and wisely counseled David (vv. 23-35). David, recognizing the wisdom of her words, replied: “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! And blessed is your advice and blessed are you, because you have kept me this day from coming to bloodshed and from avenging myself with my own hand.”
With her intelligence, discretion and decisiveness of action Abigail was able to maintain peace and prevent the slaughter of her husband and his household. She also kept David and his men from the anger of God.
There are many areas in our own lives where we need to exercise discretion, but perhaps the two most obvious areas would be in right use of the tongue and in manner of dress.
Sometimes it is tempting to listen to gossip or to pass on negative tidbits of information that we know about someone else, but wisdom calls for restraint (Proverbs 17:9). Rather, it is better to use the tongue to uplift and encourage others, promoting unity, not division.
Appropriate clothing is again where we have to use discretion. We live in Satan’s world, and the fashions marketed to women—especially younger women—today are often extremely immodest and not suitable or godly. We do have to “come out of this world” but that does not mean that we have to dress in a dowdy, “fuddy-duddy” manner. The main consideration is to make sure that our clothing is appropriate to maintain discretion. A woman of discretion would not want her skirt to “ride up” her thighs when she is seated, and she would want to be sure that the necklines of her dresses and tops are high enough that they remain modest even when bending forward. Attractive, modest clothing is the key.
These are just two suggested areas where good judgment is required, but we can all follow Abigail’s excellent example in our own ways and become “Women of Discretion.”