21 My son, let them not depart from your eyes— Keep sound wisdom and discretion; 22 So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck. 23 Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble. (Proverbs 3:21–23, NKJV)
A vital component of wisdom is forethought, the ability to look ahead and to arrange one’s actions and reactions accordingly. “Look before you leap” is an everyday way of expressing this basic trait of wisdom. It is not enough to know right and wrong (truth), it is essential that a knowledge of the truth is coupled with prudent discretion. Note the proverb praises “sound wisdom,” because not all wisdom is sound. There is a wisdom that is “earthly, sensual, demonic” (James 3:15). Such wisdom is like a “bull a china cabinet,” wreaking havoc as it thrashes about, destroying in the name of truth. On the other hand, when wisdom is trained using God’s truth, it will use forethought to evaluate the best way to achieve a righteous outcome (James 3:13, 17-18). Properly applied wisdom will “be life to your soul and grace to your neck,” enabling you to live safely. Wisdom anticipates what is likely to happen, and uses discretion to prepare for and to avoid danger while advancing righteousness. It seems that is what Jesus had in mind when He told the twelve, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).