Tag Archives: Good counsel

Counselors

Proverbs 11:14

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

Poor Counsel

This is a bit of a strange one. The first part is easy to understand: Without good advice there are going to be problems. This applies on an individual level, but also to churches, companies, local and national government. Newspaper and television reporters from around the world have no shortage of subject matter when it comes to the failure of businesses and governments where there is no counsel or poor counsel.

One or Many?

The second part of the Proverb suggests that having many counselors is good. That doesn’t fit with a more modern proverb: ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’ I can relate to that. As a young second officer in the Merchant Navy my experience was gained mostly on cargo ships. Then in 1978 I joined a tanker. The only cargo equipment on this vessel was a couple of derricks for handling hoses and the gangway. Our Hong Kong deck crew had gained most of their experience on tankers, as had the other deck officers. Nobody had a clue how to use the cargo gear.

The first time I watched the crew trying to position the gangway between the ship and the jetty they came close to demolishing a shore installation. I did not need to speak Cantonese to ascertain the problem. One man, the bosun, should have been giving instructions. The problem was that every man in the deck crew thought he was the bosun, meaning that opinions and advice were flowing from all quarters. At the next port I took charge, issuing one set of instructions and positioning men and ropes where they needed to be. The crew were stunned at the ease with which we positioned the gangway. In this case only one counselor was needed to ensure safety.

One Counselor

I’m sure you can see where this is going. Sometimes we get swamped with opinions and instructions and supposedly good advice. It also comes from all quarters, especially in church. Every person is a bosun. Or so they think. Jesus knew what would happen when He left Earth to sit at the right hand of the Father. He knew that every person would have an opinion and want to give counsel. He knew that everyone would want to be the bosun. So He took action.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 (NIV)

There may be times when it is right to take earthly counsel, but too often we forget that there is another Counselor. Who are you listening to?

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Counselors

Proverbs 11:14

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

Poor Counsel

This is a bit of a strange one. The first part is easy to understand: Without good advice there are going to be problems. This applies on an individual level, but also to churches, companies, local and national government. Newspaper and television reporters from around the world have no shortage of subject matter when it comes to the failure of businesses and governments where there is no counsel or poor counsel.

One or Many?

The second part of the Proverb suggests that having many counselors is good. That doesn’t fit with a more modern proverb: ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’ I can relate to that. As a young second officer in the Merchant Navy my experience was gained mostly on cargo ships. Then in 1978 I joined a tanker. The only cargo equipment on this vessel was a couple of derricks for handling hoses and the gangway. Our Hong Kong deck crew had gained most of their experience on tankers, as had the other deck officers. Nobody had a clue how to use the cargo gear.

The first time I watched the crew trying to position the gangway between the ship and the jetty they came close to demolishing a shore installation. I did not need to speak Cantonese to ascertain the problem. One man, the bosun, should have been giving instructions. The problem was that every man in the deck crew thought he was the bosun, meaning that opinions and advice were flowing from all quarters. At the next port I took charge, issuing one set of instructions and positioning men and ropes where they needed to be. The crew were stunned at the ease with which we positioned the gangway. In this case only one counselor was needed to ensure safety.

One Counselor

I’m sure you can see where this is going. Sometimes we get swamped with opinions and instructions and supposedly good advice. It also comes from all quarters, especially in church. Every person is a bosun. Or so they think. Jesus knew what would happen when He left Earth to sit at the right hand of the Father. He knew that every person would have an opinion and want to give counsel. He knew that everyone would want to be the bosun. So He took action.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 (NIV)

There may be times when it is right to take earthly counsel, but too often we forget that there is another Counselor. Who are you listening to?


Proverbs 12:20

“Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counselors of peace is joy.”

The Evil Psychiatrist

Try to imaging an evil psychiatrist. Can you? Picture in your mind a tall, slick-haired, skinny man in a long, white lab coat. In one eye is a spectacle, the other a creepy glare.

Now, just imagine this guy asking you to come into his office. He offers you a quasi-comfortable couch on which to recline, then pulls out a yellow pad and pencil to take notes – notes of your deepest, darkest secrets.

When your hour is up, you have talked about your parents, your dead dog, a lost love interest, and your lack of self worth. What do you get in return? The Doctor says,

“I zink vee hav made much progress, but vee hav much fartha to go, yes? You take dis book I vrote, ‘It’s Not My Fault,’ and pay de receptionist on the vay out, yes? Today vill be $120 – the book vill be $30.”

The Caring Counselor

Now, think of someone who wants nothing in return for simple, good advice. This person is caring, can see the end of the road you’re traveling, and wants what is best for you.

You go to this person, pour out your soul, problems and all, and in return you get both sympathy and solid guidance. You are not made to feel like an idiot, but your own words are used to point towards better choices to be made.

Hopefully, you can see the difference between the two, no?

“Imagine Evil” vs “Joy”

One point of today’s proverb is that there are some who would offer counsel for their own selfish desires, while there are others who do it for the joy of bringing about peace. The operative word in the verse is “counselors.”

As a pastor, I have to counsel people all the time. Unlike a psychiatrist, however, I don’t get paid lots of money for my advice.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a place for the advice of both, but if the intent of either is selfish, then the advice is evil – free or not.

What Goes Around…

But there is even more to this verse. The idea is that the reason for the advice one gives will ultimately come back upon him. The great Matthew Henry wrote:

Those that devise mischief contrive, for the accomplishing of it, how to impose upon others; but it will prove, in the end, that they deceive themselves.*

If you want to experience joy, then give “peaceful” counsel. If you want to be fooled, then seek to fool others.

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), Pr 12:20.