What is it that can give us the ability to be patient with others? What would we need to develop in our lives and our thinking that would make us someone who is quick to forgive and gracious to those who provoke us? That is actually what Solomon, through the Holy Spirit, is about to tell us. I don't know about you - but when I read this particular proverb, I get excited. Unbeknownst to everyone except all those who are around me - I can become impatient. When I get impatient, unfortunately other sins are soon to follow, like anger, resentment, and unforgiveness. Therefore knowing the thing that will allow me to be slow to anger and forgiving is vital to me. Let's take a look and see that that thing is.
Discretion is what the Bible says will make us slow to anger. And of course our very next question is, "What is discretion - and how does someone have it in their lives. Discretion is the Hebrew word, "sekel" and it means discretion received due to intelligence and good sense. But Zhodiates goes further in his definition describing just what this is. He says, "This intellegence is more than just mere book knowledge or learning about a particular subject. It has a greater significance and means insight or understanding. It is having this intelligence and insight that gives a person that ability to have patience." (Complete Word Study Dictionary, Zhodiates)
This intelligence and insight is ascribed to Abigail in the Word of God in 1 Samuel 25:3. She was said to be a beautiful women who had intelligence. That intelligence kept her entire family from being destroyed when her husband treated David with contempt. She found out about her husband's sin and lack of graciousness and quickly rode to meet David with a generous gift (which should have been given in the first place). David, for his part, was riding with a large group of valient men to avenge himself because of the anger that rose up within him when he was spited by Abigail's husband. It was Abigail's ability to discern what was about to happen to her family - that moved her to calm David's anger with a proper apology and gracious gift.
Anger tends to make us not think about what we are doing. It is usually a reaction to the fact that we cannot control our own situation and the people around us - or - it is a reaction to how we view the way we have been treated by others. Discretion makes us slow to anger. There are still times when we should be angry about how we've been treated - or - how others have acted. But it is better when we are slow to anger. That way our anger is not a reaction (esepecially the ones where we blow up at someone) - but a clear decision that is guided by reason and understanding - not just passion and perceived slight. We take a moment or how many moments are necessary to step back and think through what we are about to say or do. We take time to consider the other person - and to consider their situation. The old addage of walking a mile in their shoes is appropriate here.
The other thing that this understanding and knowledge will help us to consider is that it is a glory to overlook a transgression. Think for a moment what life would be like if everyone demanded instant justice on all matters where they think something wrong has been done to them. The world would be filled with vigilante justice everywhere. Life would consist of moving from one slight to another - demanding that there be payment for how we've been wronged. There would be no peace - and very few relationships would go well. Thus it is better for us to simply overlook a transgression (real or imagined). It is far better for most relationships to have a measure of grace and forgiveness (often the more the better!) than for them to demand instant justice at all times.
Taking these two things - discretion when faced with a wrong done - and forgiveness and grace when we experience another's transgression - are key to productive, happy relationships. It is so helpful to remember the grace given to us when these things happen. God did not demand instant justice with reference to our transgressions. He chose to show mercy - and later to forgive when the payment had been made by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This has been to His everlasting glory for ages. How we need to see this - and seek to emulate it in all our relationships in life. That, dear saints, is wisdom - and it is to the glory of God.