The Need for Wise Counsel
For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war:
1. The proverb encourages that its readers get wise COUNSEL.
a. Counsel defined: Advice; guidance.
2. The proverb encourages wise counsel before declaring WAR.
a. War is something you don’t want to jump into quickly without thinking it through.
b. War involves the lives of many people.
c. War has exceedingly serious consequences.
d. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered BEFORE you decide to go to war.
• What exactly is our reason for going to war?
• Is it the right thing to do? Is the cause just?
• Do we have enough troops? Equipment? Finances? Other resources?
• Can this war be won?
• How will the enemy strike back?
• What tactics will they use? Are we prepared to meet them?
• What is the battle plan? Will our strategy be successful?
• Is this the right time?
• How will this affect our relationship to the surrounding nations?
• What kind of an outcome do we expect?
• What will be the long term consequences?
• Is what we gain in victory worth the effort… the loss of life… the cost?
• Are the people behind us in the effort?
• Do they know the cost and are they willing to pay the price?
• Do they have the stomach for a protracted war?
3. No one man has all the answers to all the questions.
a. That’s why counsel is so important and necessary.
b. Wisdom demands that counsel be sought from experts in various fields before engaging in such an endeavor.
c. Keep in mind that Solomon just equated wisdom and knowledge with STRENGTH. (vs. 5)
• If there is one thing you need in wartime, it is strength.
• And the more you know, the stronger position you are in.
• Ignorance is weakness; knowledge is strength.
• Hence, a wise general will seek out all the pertinent information he can get.
• He needs to have his questions answered and answered correctly.
• Thus, he is not simply to seek for counsel. He is to seek for WISE counsel.
• Not all counsel is wise.
• A foolish general might seek counsel from men who will tell him what he wants to hear. That is foolish counsel—and dangerous.
d. Realizing all this, a general is to seek counsel from WISE men who are knowledgeable, and may give him information that he doesn’t want to hear—but NEEDS to hear.
e. Getting good, wise counsel could mean the difference between victory and defeat—and could prevent a heavy loss of life and treasure.
f. Prov. 20:18 – “Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.”
4. Of course, getting wise counsel involves HUMILITY.
a. It requires the general to admit that he doesn’t have all the answers.
b. It means that the Commander in Chief needs to seek advice from those under him.
c. PRIDE would say, “I’m in charge. What I say goes. I make all the decisions around here. I don’t need the advice of those in much lower positions.”
• Prov. 12:15 – “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”
• Fools don’t want advice. They don’t want to listen. They think they know it all already.
d. HUMILITY says, “I don’t know everything. I don’t have all the answers. I need help. I need advice… and I’m willing to go looking for it… to those who are better informed and more experienced in these areas than I am.”
• Prov.1:5 – “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.”
• Prov. 11:2 – “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”
5. What Solomon says about making war should be applied to making any BIG decision in life that has serious and long lasting consequences.
a. It could be applied to seeking to get married, seeking a school, changing a career, going into the ministry, moving to Wyoming, or any big decision. They all require wisdom… and wise counsel.
b. Just as a general who is considering going to war asks a long series of questions, so should WE when we contemplate a big decision.
• Why do I want to do this? What is my real motivation?
• Do I have what it takes to finish?
• Have I counted the cost? Is it worth the cost?
• What will be the long term consequences?
• What if I change my mind?
• Will this be good for my spiritual life? Is this good for my family’s spiritual well being?
• What about the testimony of the Lord?
• Is this the right time?
• Is this really the will of the God for my life?
• Can I do this in good conscience?
• How will this affect others?
• Are the immediate benefits worth the long term cost?
c. Proud folly says: I can answer all those questions myself. Why should I ask for counsel? They will just tell me all the things I don’t want to hear!
d. Humble wisdom says: I don’t have all the answers. I need some wise counsel from older, more experienced believers who have been down this pathway before. I don’t want to be sorry later.
e. Remember: Prov. 11:2 – “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”
And in multitude of counsellors there is safety.
1. Solomon takes this a step further – building on his previous point.
a. In making a big decision (like war) you need wise counsel.
b. Now he adds, in a MULTITUDE of counselors there is safety.
c. Don’t just get counsel, get a LOT of it!
d. One expert (through experience) might be aware of dangers or pitfalls that others are unaware of.
e. Another expert might see a benefit which others may not see.
f. Ask a variety of experts.
g. Not every godly counselor is going to give the same answer. Remember, counsel is ADVICE from men.
h. Advice from men is not a “Thus saith the Lord.”
i. Sometimes men with the best of intentions, give poor advice.
j. It needs to be weighed and examined in light of God’s Word… and the circumstances on the ground.
k. It is helpful to get different perspectives… looking at the same situation from different angles.
l. Hence, in a multitude of counselors is safety. And pray for wisdom from above to sort it all out.
2. Prov. 11:14 – Solomon said the same thing in this chapter—but adds one other detail: Without that counsel, the people FALL.
a. Thus, he puts forth two possible approaches and two consequences.
• A multitude of counselors leads to safety.
• A lack of counsel leads to a fall.
• Interestingly, pride leads to a fall too.
• Prov. 16:18 – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
3. Prov. 15:22 – Note the same pattern here—with an added detail.
a. “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.”
b. Again, a lack of counselors leads to a fall, called a DISAPPOINTMENT = broken; thwarted; nullified.
c. But with a multitude of counselors, your plans are ESTABLISHED. (will stand; be firm; endure; fulfilled)
d. In other words, safety and success are the result of many counselors.
e. A fall, disappointment, and defeat are the result of a lack of godly counsel.
f. Choose your pathway wisely.
• One path is the way of wise humility which leads to safety and success.
• The other path is the way of foolish pride which leads to a fall… failure… disappointment.
• Which course will you pick?
g. It should be again pointed out that these are proverbs – little nuggets of truth. However, they are not promises in each and every case. They do not cover all the possible situations, but are generalities. Sometimes foolish generals win the war. Sometimes the best advice does not prove successful.
h. Ecc. 9:11 – “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
i. But in the vast majority of cases, a multitude of counselors leads to safety.
4. In summary, the warning/exhortation here is to get counsel before you make a big decision or choose a course of action.
a. Get the facts FIRST.
b. We have some similar proverbs in our culture too:
• Look before you leap!
• Don’t bite off more than you can chew!
• Don’t start something you can’t finish!
c. Knowledge is strength. Get all the knowledge you can through wise, godly counsel.