Proverbs 20:18

Established by Counsel

Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.



1. In this proverb, Solomon speaks about the importance of getting good counsel and advice.

2. He speaks of both the value and need of good advice.

Every purpose is established by counsel.

1. Purpose: Thought; idea; plan; intentions; purpose—implying a desire to carry it out.

a. We all have ideas and plans.

b. Some are good; some not so good.

c. Ideas pop into our heads all the time…

d. Sometimes those ideas seem to stick. We think about it… we dream a bit…

e. Then that idea becomes a purpose. It becomes our intention to carry it out.

f. Maybe it’s a plan to build an addition on the house.

g. Maybe the idea is to go back to school.

h. Maybe the idea is to change careers.

i. Maybe the idea is to move to Florida or British Columbia.

j. The term “purpose” here speaks of an idea that is beginning to gel.

k. It is an idea that has become an intention… a goal… it is your purpose to carry it out and make it a reality.

2. Solomon’s advice: Get some good counsel and advice before you do anything!

a. This proverb says nothing about whether you should or shouldn’t do it.

b. It simply states that before you do ANYTHING… get counsel!

c. And that is always good advice.

d. Counsel:
• Advice; consultation; discussion.
• Telling someone what they should do based on a plan or scheme.

e. Of course when you get counsel from another human being, remember that their counsel is NOT inspired Scripture.
• Be aware that sometimes friends with the best of intentions give BAD advice… and terrible counsel.
• Therefore, compare every word of advice you receive from men with the Word of God.
• Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good and abstain from every appearance of evil.

3. Purposes ESTABLISHED.

a. Established: To be firm; stable; established; secure; fixed; prepared; made ready; formed; made to stand.

b. If you want your purpose to stand and be successful, then get good advice before you begin.

c. Wise counsel from people who have expertise in that area might mean the difference between success or failure. (established)

d. It may be a good idea that you have:
• But you may be using a wrong method to accomplish it.
• It may be a good idea, but the wrong time… wrong place…
• It may be a good idea, but needs a few minor adjustments.
• It may be a good idea but you’re not the person to do it.
• A counselor may have a much easier, more efficient, more cost effective way of accomplishing your goal.
• A counselor may have some other idea to enhance your good idea and make it even better.
• It may be a good idea, but you need to be warned about some potential pitfalls.

e. It may be a terrible idea.
• It may be obvious to others that it won’t work.
• Sometimes people get crazy ideas in their heads… and they just have to be told!
• Perhaps others have tried it before you and consistently failed miserably.
• A good, honest counselor who is out for your best interest will tell you so—and in doing so, save you a lot of time, grief, and money!

4. Prov. 15:22 – WITHOUT counsel, purposes are disappointed.

a. Disappointed: broken, thwarted; nullified.

b. Many men have had ideas and have brazenly and sometimes at great cost, have given their all to bring those ideas to pass… only to discover that their plans were broken… their hopes dashed… their purpose thwarted.

c. WHY? Solomon says that often the reason is because no counsel was sought.

d. Perhaps it was a good idea, and with only a little tweaking here or there it WOULD have worked. But this man did not get the advice he should have gotten… and his plan failed.

e. Maybe it was a ridiculous idea in the first place… and it was obvious that it was a stupid idea… but he didn’t ask for counsel, and thus never received any.

f. Prov. 11:14 – The people fall because of a lack of counsel.
• People fall… marriages are ruined… businesses fail… Christians fall away… churches split…
• Falls and failures are often the result of NOT getting the counsel that COULD have enabled them to stand instead of fall… to be established instead of disintegrating.

5. When good counsel is received, FOLLOW it!

a. Prov. 19:20 – “Hear counsel.” This implies more than just listening. It means to listen and to obey… to respond to it… to act upon it.

b. That’s the only way the purpose is established.

c. I Kings 12:8-16 – Solomon's own son, Rehoboam sought counsel from the older, wiser men but evidently didn't like what he heard.

d. He continued to seek counsel from others (younger, less experienced men) who told him what he wanted to hear.

e. We will ALWAYS be able to find a counselor who will tell us what we want to hear… especially marriage counselors.

f. But we are warned against that here. Hear good counsel, and then FOLLOW it!

g. What good is counsel if we listen to and then discard it?

h. Ex. 18:19 – Jethro offered counsel to Moses. He gave him advice concerning a better way to conduct the business of judging the people.
• Moses had a purpose to judge the people.
• Jethro gave him counsel, and Moses followed it!
• His purpose was established: made firm; strengthened; made to stand; fixed in place.

6. Jesus Christ is the “Wonderful Counselor.” (Isa. 9:6)

a. Solomon seemed to be speaking on a human level, as he so often does in the book of Proverbs.

b. But there is obviously good spiritual application here…

c. If it is a good idea to seek counsel from men with our plans, how much better to seek the will and mind of GOD on the matter?

d. Whatever ideas or plans may pop up in our minds, the very FIRST thing we should do is to “take it to the Lord in prayer.”

e. We do not take our plans to God to ask Him to put His stamp of approval on what we have already decided to do.

f. We come to Him for guidance… direction… to seek His will and His mind on the matter.

g. Prov. 19:21 – Men have lots of plans and devices in their hearts. But the counsel of the Lord shall STAND. It is a good idea to make sure that OUR ideas are submitted to His will and His Word.

h. So we bring our plans to the Lord to first seek from Him IF we should proceed with those plans.

i. And if the Lord DOES lead us to continue down that path, we seek counsel from Him on HOW to proceed… WHEN to proceed… with WHOM to proceed… WHERE to proceed…

j. ONE of the means that God uses is the counsel and advice of godly, Spirit filled believers!

k. God’s Word TELLS us to seek such counsel.

And with good advice make war…

1. Solomon is not promoting war here. He is promoting advice!

a. He is not writing them commanding his sons to make war.

b. But he does say that IF you decide to go to war, be sure to get the best advice you can get… the best intelligence you can get.

c. When advice and intelligence comes from human beings, even the best intelligence can be flawed—as we have seen in our country.

d. But even though advice from human beings is imperfect, Solomon encourages us to SEEK it before going to war.

2. WAR: He uses this as one example of a BIG decision.

a. The average person reading the book of Proverbs probably isn’t going to be involved in any plans to make war.

b. The average Joe (like you and me) doesn’t live on that plane.

c. But the application is that when it comes to BIG decisions in our lives, be sure to get counsel!

d. If you are seeking a career; marriage; a move; buying a home or a car; insurance; thinking about surgery—get good advice—seek a second opinion.

3. Note that he says to get “good advice.”

a. Prov. 24:6 – There is safety in a multitude of counselors.
• If you are considering war, safety ought to be paramount in your thinking.
• Getting a multitude of counselors is what we would call getting a second opinion… and a third!
• You are unlikely to be called upon to make plans for a war, but we may have to make war plans in dealing with our health.
• If one doctor gives you a diagnosis and suggests a serious operation, get another doctor’s advice before you subject yourself to the knife!
• What you want is not just advice, but GOOD advice.
• Luke 14:31 – This king needs to sit down and CONSULT with wise men… with his army leaders… to see if it is advisable to go to war…
» Do I have enough troops to win?
» Do we have enough weapons?
» Do we have a winning strategy?
» Will the people be behind us?
» Is this the right time?
» There are lots of things to consider before going to war.
» And you NEED to consult with experts before engaging in such a BIG decision.
» When it comes to making big decisions, don’t act rashly!
• Don’t operate merely by impulse… or go by gut feelings.
• When making big decisions, it’s much wiser to use your ears and your head rather than relying on your gut.
• Don’t make ignorant assumptions. Get good advice.
• Look before you leap… get good advice before you leap.
• Count the cost.

4. You want to be sure that every decision you make is a wise one.

a. But there are some BIG issues that are more important than others!

b. In these issues you REALLY need good advice.