The Well Advised

None of us is so smart or seasoned that we do not need to heed wise Biblical counsel: “Every purpose shall be established by counsel; and with good advice make war.” (Provs. 20:18)

On a humorous note, I once read “Reason #4 Why Guys Do Not Write Advice Columns: ‘Dear Abe, the other day I set off for work, leaving my husband in the house watching TV. I hadn’t gone more than a mile when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked home, only to find my husband making love to our neighbor. He was let go from his job six months ago, and says he has been feeling worthless. I love him very much, but I don’t know if I can trust him anymore.  What shall l do? Sincerely, Frustrated.’ ‘Dear Frustrated: A car stalling can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Check that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it’s clear, check the jubilee clips holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. Or, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber. I hope this helps.’”

But, humor aside, there are times when we do need good counsel, because of the complexities of life and the constitution of our frail humanity: “Verily man at his best state is altogether vanity,” as the Psalmist says. (Ps. 39:5) And, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors, there is safety.” (Provs. 11:14) And, “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.” (Provs. 8:14)

Then, too, counsel is advised because of the confusion of sin. So many voices—often contradictory and often claiming authority—can and will at times leave one confused. “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” (Provs. 19:20) Educators, philosophers, scientists and politicians will attempt to convince others of their viewpoints—but seeking Biblical counsel enables one to avoid the pitfalls of reason, pop psychology, and other “isms” of our day.

Counsel will guide one, too, away from fatal mistakes due to flawed judgment. Remember how Israel was fooled by the Gibeonites, when the Gibeonites lied to Israel’s leaders about who they were and where they were from? (Josh. 9:24) The deception was costly to Israel for years to come, and it could well have been avoided. But the men of Israel “asked not counsel of the Lord.” It was neither the first time nor the last that Israel suffered catastrophe because the people did not seek advice from God: “For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there understanding in them.” That indictment by God is devastating—to a nation or an individual. (Deut. 32:28) Solomon instructs that “without counsel purposes are disappointed, but in the multitude of counsel they are established.” (Provs. 15:22)

So, yes, at times every person needs and ought to seek and heed good, Biblical counsel. Take heart, because such help is readily available. “I will bless the Lord who hath given me counsel,” the Psalmist declared. (Ps. 16:7) And, “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever….” (Ps. 33:11) Solomon again noted that “there are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” (Provs. 19:21) Wise believers are often a good source of guidance: “We took sweet counsel together and walked unto the house of God in company.” (Ps. 55:14) And, “Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers unto the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is His name. Great in counsel, and mighty in work.” (Jer. 32:18, 19)

God uses friends, teachers, pastors, parents, and mentors to give advice, which like “ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.” (Provs. 27:9) “Counsel in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” (Provs. 2:5).

So, the worth of good guidance from a loving friend, family member, or fellow faith pilgrim cannot be overestimated.  Every word of God is pure (Prov. 30:5) and “The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting soul.” (Ps. 19:7). Seek God’s wisdom through His Word, and walk always in His way. “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever; the thoughts of His heart to all generations.” (Ps. 33:11)

Pray over His wise counsel. Receive it with gladness and with a commitment to follow it. “Because they rebelled against the Words of God and contemned the counsel of the most High God; therefore He brought down their heart with labor; they fell down.” (Ps. 107:11) “Hearken now unto my voice,” Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, exhorted Moses, “I will give thee counsel and God shall be with thee.” (Ex. 18:19).

But, in a fallen world, we always need to weigh all “counsel” in the light of God’s Word. The first verse of David’s voluminous Book of Psalms starts with: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.” (Ps. 1:1) King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and successor to his father’s throne, made a critical error when he “forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him, and spake to them after the counsel of the young men.” (I Kings 12:13,14)

Counsel that cannot be acted upon in good faith; counsel contrary to God’s Word; counsel from any stranger to truth—all of these must by all means be avoided.  Learn from King Saul, who “died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the Word of God, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit to enquire of it.” (I Chr.10:13)

May our testimony now and ever be what David’s was: “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory.” (Ps.73:24)

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