The way of fools seems right to them,
but the wise listen to advice.
- Proverbs 12:15
He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?”
“I am,” he answered.
She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.”
“I’m listening,” he said.
She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”
“Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.”
The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.”
Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.
- 2 Samuel 20:17-22
“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”
- C. S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays
I could have given a lot of Scripture examples of wise counsel, but the woman in 2 Samuel 20 was wise indeed. A little bloody, but wise. Of course, I could have given a few instances of poor counsel. The downfall of Rehoboam comes to mind as well as in Jeremiah when the false prophets fed the king lies while suggesting that Jeremiah must never be listened to.
C. S. Lewis made this comment being part of a group called The Inklings. Most people know of members C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, but the group had about fifteen regular members and a few occasional guests, all had some connection to literary works – scholars of the topic, authors, poets, playwrights, etc. Hugo Dyson, along with Tolkien, became influential in leading C. S. Lewis to Christianity. A couple of notables, other than Dyson and Tolkien, were Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. All the members would listen to the latest writings from each member and give their honest counsel. In some cases, it was said that Lewis would put things on the shelf after a stiff opposition and then, once his head was clear, return to the rewriting based on the critique months later.
We all need someone with whom we can bounce ideas. We absolutely need to go to God with an open mind about decisions that we wish to make. When we go to God, having already made our decision, it defeats the purpose.
The point is that we are not alone. A church of one is a lonely place. Not even God is there. A church with hundreds or thousands could be equally lonely when you cannot confide in the “one” that might give wise counsel.
Of course, to understand if the counsel is wise, we must study God’s Word. And maybe in a group Bible study, you may find that wise counsel in other members of the group. I have found several in such settings over the years and some long lasting friendships.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.