Day 35: If you don’t ask for advice, your plans will fail. With many advisors, they will succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)
Those who don’t ask for help will have plans go wrong yet with many advisers and trust plans formed right will successfully be done
Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
Here is great advice. From a king! Do not make decisions in a vacuum. Do not trust your research, analysis, forecast, or strategy. Other perspectives and experiences can save you trouble and refine your plan. Do you have wisdom and humility to appreciate this advice? Fools rush ahead. Wise men are prudent. Here is a way to avoid danger (Pr 22:3; 27:12).
A sure rule for success in life is to submit decisions to the review of wise counselors. King Solomon, seeking to prepare his son to govern Israel, repeated this axiom several times in his manual of wisdom (Pr 11:14; 20:18; 24:6). He knew that many factors could distort a man’s decision making, especially when he is personally involved in a matter.
People make plans – to get married, change jobs, respond to an enemy, go back to school, buy a house, find a new church, teach children at home, invest in a business, borrow money, etc. If you push ahead without using wise and emotionally-neutral friends to criticize your ideas, you will likely be disappointed. But if you humbly allow prudent acquaintances to review your plans, you can settle on a surer course for your life.
This rule for success is basic and simple. Why do most ignore it? They presume they are right (Pr 14:12; 16:25). They are too proud to ask anyone else (Pr 26:12,16). They do not want to hear any negative criticism (Pr 18:2,17). They are too impatient to take the time (Pr 14:29; 19:2; 21:5; 25:8; 28:22). They are already committed, and it is too humbling to turn back (Pr 6:1-5). They have no wise counselors. They know their reasons are weak.
When you plan for yourself or family, you are already biased toward your conclusion. You are emotionally involved, and you cannot see as clearly as others. Your desires, experiences, knowledge, circumstances, and other factors distort your perception of reality. You do not see the danger or weaknesses as easily as a disinterested third party.
To apply this rule, you need wise counselors. Most men cannot be counselors. You need knowledgeable, insightful, sober, and critical persons. Why settle for less? Because you can easily persuade them? You want pessimistic persons, who see dangers in everything, because you are already positive enough, or you would not be considering the matter.
You need more than one counselor. Safety and success depend on the multiplied wisdom of many counselors. It takes more humility and time to consult several counselors, but the benefits gained cannot be appreciated until you have been burned a few times by your own decisions. King Ahasuerus of Persia wisely trusted seven men to guide him in a matter of passion (Esther 1:10-22). God gave you royal advice by inspiring Solomon.
You must then put everything on the table with your counselors. You must be transparent about your goal and strategy and any threats to them. You cannot hold back aspects of your proposal you know are weak or wrong. You must come totally clean with them, so they can rightly and quickly analyze the major factors and final objective of your plan.
Then you must listen and incorporate their advice. Consulting advisors is not an empty exercise to merely discuss ideas to flatter them or honor yourself. The purpose is to get an answer to save you and help you. You must accept their judgment as far as it goes. You must consider their counsel. To hear criticism of a bad plan and do it anyway is two sins.
What men are useful for counsel? Men that fear God and know His word can help, for unbelievers have no real wisdom (Is 8:20). The children of this world are wise in earthly matters only, like picking a heat pump manufacturer (Luke 16:8). Any decision affecting your heart, your walk with God, morality, or a Bible subject, even if loosely connected, requires faithful and sober Christians, for they only have true wisdom (Pr 1:7; 9:10).
You can become such a counselor by learning the Bible. Just the book of Proverbs has a large amount of practical wisdom to save men from foolish decisions involving business ethics, child training, communication, friends, investment scams, marriage, money, speech, whores, wine, work ethics, and many other subjects. Scripture can make simple men wise, and it is your duty and privilege to learn it (Pr 22:17-21; Ps 19:7; 119:130).
What about truth itself from scripture – correct doctrine about God and the most important matters of life and eternity? There is no verse in the Bible you should interpret by itself, for you must let the rest of scripture guide and limit your interpretation, for it was all written by the Holy Ghost (II Pet 1:20-21; I Cor 2:13). This is the first and most important rule of Bible study – you must not take a position that contradicts other verses.
What about truth from preachers – the correct doctrine and practice of true religion? There are few men today that exalt truth over popularity, numbers, revenue, or approval. If you find such a man, he is one among a thousand (Job 33:23; Jer 23:28). But even then, you must prove him by the many counselors of scripture (I Thess 5:21; Acts 17:11). And in this age of Internet access, you can further check him by faithful preachers of the past.
Plans . . . Fractured or Fantastic? Proverbs 15:22
Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.
What needs to be done to make sure our plans succeed? Today’s proverb gives us that information. We find that the counsel God gives us on this helps us to grasp that to be a good leader who is able to make and succeed in plans, we do not need to be someone who can do it all themselves. Contrary to that thought – a good leader is one who when making plans is willing to consult with others. A great leader is one who also regularly consults with God.
Counsel is absolutely necessary when making good plans. Our passage today reminds us that plans are broken and frustrated when we do not do this. The word for frustration here is “parar” which means to break, divide, or frustrate. What is interesting is that the Bible speaks several times to the effect that God is the One Who will frustrate our plans if we do not seek Him in the midst of making them. What is even more fascinating is that we read in Isaiah 14:27, that the Lord’s purposes cannot be frustrated. This leads us to the conclusion that the best plans are those made in concert with the will of God. Those are the plans that will stand – and will be established.
The second word that is interesting, especially in light of our plans and purposes needing to be those of God, is the word “consultation.” This word is the Hebrew word, “sod” which means counsel or advice. The word has with it the concept of confidentiality and intimacy. Thus this refers to what some would call, “intimate counsel.” The idea is that of great intimacy with the one from whom you are receiving counsel. Thus we come to the conclusion that in order to make solid, successful plans we need to have an intimacy with God. This takes planning out of a boring, man-centered process – and puts it into the category of fellowship and intimacy with God. If we lack this intimacy with God in planning – seeking His heart and His purposes to be fullfilled – we can expect some level of frustration and a fracturing of our plans.
When we have many counselors our plans succeed. The reason for this is because many counselors will help us to see our thinking and our personal planning from multiple perspectives. This will help us not fall into the trap of our own personal agenda taking over our plans. Another way of saying this is it keeps us from planning in the flesh. There will be enough feedback and counsel to rescue us from just doing what we want.
Planning is a good thing, but it breaks down when we make it too “me-centric.” We are not farsighted enough to see everything that needs to be seen. We are too selfish not to see that we need multimple perspectives on a planned undertaking. The wise man therefore surrounds himself with a group of people who will help him see through another perspective than his own. The wiser man also spends much time in the presence of the Lord as he seeks to know what is the best course of action – and the best way to make his plans. This man will succeed.
Why is a multitude of counselors valuable (Proverbs 15:22)?
Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (KJV). Proverbs 11:14 and 24:6 also mention the value of a “multitude of counselors” or having “many advisers.” The general principle is that there is wisdom in seeking a wide range of advice from others instead of relying solely on one’s own knowledge or intuition. Considering other points of view and drawing on the experience of others is good.
Of course, twenty foolish advisers are no better than one, so the kind of counselors one seeks makes all the difference in the outcome. The Bible gives examples of people who listened to the wrong type of counsel and reaped disastrous results (Genesis 3:17; 16:2; Joshua 9:14; 1 Chronicles 10: 13–14; 2 Chronicles 22:4). A multitude of counselors won’t help if those counselors are fools.
Human beings are fallible. No one gets it right 100 percent of the time. The wisest and most godly among us are still subject to human error. We set ourselves up for disappointment and often disaster when we build our lives or ministries based upon the counsel of just one person. It is good to surround ourselves with trusted advisers—a multitude of counselors—realizing that even wise people can see many things differently.
Having a multitude of counselors is valuable because hearing varied viewpoints gives us a healthier foundation upon which to form opinions. We make the soundest decisions when we have fully investigated the issue from many angles, sought the Lord’s wisdom (James 1:5), and moved forward in faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Proverbs NIV Application Commentary by Paul Koptak
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What is wisdom? What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?