As a business and Information Management consultant I spent a considerable amount of time in meetings over my lengthy career providing advice and counsel to co-workers and clients. Often the advice was based primarily on my grey-haired experience … you know, sharing “wisdom” that supposedly has been gained primarily through the aging process. There is a great deal of knowledge that can be gained from first-hand experience. For example, as a child the temptation is always there to do what your parents tell you not to do. In their experience, parents know that touching a hot stove will burn your hand. No matter how many times you are told not to do something, it seems that you just have to try it and find out for yourself.
Other knowledge comes to us by the means of education. But this kind of knowledge does not always rise to the mature level we call wisdom. Consider this example. You are planning to build a new home and are interviewing potential builders. You interview several candidates. One young and energetic candidate is straight out of a respected engineering school with a high grade-point average. He knows about the latest techniques, materials and methods of construction but has yet to build his first house. Another candidate is a much older person who only finished high school, but has built well in excess of a thousand homes over his career and has a remarkable reputation. Which builder would you choose? I thought so! Experience and wisdom wins this contest, hands down, every time.
When making important decisions, the individual advice from someone of great wisdom is golden. The collective advice from a group of wise counselors can be priceless.
My friend Dr. Don Dowless, President of Shorter University, has reminded the Shorter Trustees (of which I am one of thirty) several times recently about what the Bible has to say regarding the advice of Godly and wise counselors. Dr. Dowless is indeed a man of the highest integrity who loves students and has a passion for doing what is right in the sight of God. He is God’s perfect choice at a perfect time, chosen to lead such a fine institution of higher learning. I consider Dr. Dowless to be a wise counsellor himself. In planning the re-shaping and re-focusing of Shorter’s future direction, Dr. Dowless has immersed himself in the Word of God, prayed diligently for God’s leadership and listened to the wise counsel of other Godly men and women. There is a lesson in this for all of us.
Scripture: (from five of my favorite versions of The Bible)
- King James Version – Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
- New International Version– Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
- English Standard Version – Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
- New American Standard Bible – Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.
- American Standard Version – Where there is no counsel, purposes are disappointed; But in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
To better understand this scripture let’s do a short word study on the word counsellors and what it means within the context of the scripture.
Counsellors (counselor, advisers, counsel, consultation)
- Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says that the Hebrew word for counselors (רב יועצים) is “used almost as an official title” in Proverbs 15:22 (see also 1 Chronicles 27:32, Isaiah 1:26, Isaiah 19:11). It “brings before us the picture of the council-chamber of Eastern countries, arranged for a solemn conference of the wise.”
- Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible says that counselors “might be translated, chief or master of the council, the prime minister.”
- Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible relates “Without counsel purposes are disappointed, …. If a man determines and resolves upon a matter, and at once hastily and precipitately goes about it, without mature deliberation, without consulting with himself, and taking the advice of others in forming a scheme to bring about his designs, it generally comes to nothing … see Luke 14:28; … but in the multitude of counselors they are established; his purposes are, as in Proverbs 20:18; having the advice of others, and these many, he is confirmed that he is right in what he has thought of and purposed to do; and therefore goes about it with the greater spirit and cheerfulness, and is most likely to succeed, and generally does; see Proverbs 11:14.”
- Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary – “If men will not take time and pains to deliberate, they are not likely to bring any thing to pass.”
When Solomon penned these words he was likely offering this superb advice to one of his sons, Rehoboam. Solomon didn’t always follow his own advice, nor the Word of God. Viewed as one of the richest men in the world at the time, Solomon heavily taxed his followers in the United Kingdom of Israel causing significant dissension among his subjects. Rehoboam succeeded Solomon to the throne of Israel at the age of forty-one in the tenth century BC. Rehoboam continued his father’s practice of heavy taxation, even increasing the burden as advised by the men his own age and rejecting the advice of the older and wise counselors as described in I Kings 12. This ultimately led to a rebellion of the people led by Jeroboam (son of Nebat, see 1 Kings 11:26 and following) and the division of the United Kingdom (931-930 BC) into the ten northern tribes known collectively as Israel, and the two southern tribes known as Judah. Jeroboam ruled over Israel and Rehoboam ruled over Judah. Neither leader was a faithful follower of God. Jeroboam even led his people to fashion and worship idols in an attempt to hold on to the people of the northern tribes.
Rehoboam’s poor decision in not following the advice of his older and wise counselors led to four hundred years of turmoil for both Judah and Israel. Under Rehoboam’s leadership Judah became a vassal state of Egypt for a time and gave up countless state treasures. The selfish acts and bad advice given to one man caused the downfall of a great nation.
There is a strong message that can be derived from the study of the historical event described above … not following God’s Word, disunity among any group of God’s people and advice from unwise counselors will certainly lead to complete failure. Whereas, following God’s Word, unity among the group and advice from wise counselors will most certainly lead to complete success. I have personally observed both scenarios and the guaranteed results. What about you?
This principle can be applied to the lives of individual Christians as well when making key life decisions. First and foremost, seek counsel from God through prayer and reading/studying His Word, The Bible. Next, seek advice from wise and Godly counselors. Do not depend upon your own wisdom, no matter how wise and/or successful you think yourself to be. Finally, follow and implement the advice you have received and watch God go to work on your behalf!!
Books by Jim Davenport: Please purchase Jim’s books to help support his writing ministry.
- Christian Devotions & Quick Studies – Hardback, Paperback, eBook
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Related Links of Interest:
- Shorter University – Transforming Lives Through Christ
Other Articles by Jim Davenport:
- All of Jim’s Articles
- A Servant’s Attitude
- The Servant Who Suffered for Us
- Our Comforter
- God Will Provide
- In His Time
- God’s Solution for Anxiety
- Facing Tough Times
- Is Anything too Hard for God?
- Do Not Fear
- An Anchor in the Time of the Storm
- His Grace is Sufficient for Me
- Become A Christian
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