I’ve always found it fascinating that Solomon, the wisest king to ever rule Israel, understood the value of getting advice from other people. If God had already gifted him with wisdom, why did he pursue advice from others? It seems like it would have been appropriate for Solomon to say, “My wisdom and understanding comes directly from God. I will make decisions about my next steps based on that wisdom alone.”
Yet, in the wisdom that God granted, Solomon understood the value of advice from others. For example, Solomon offered:
- “Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more” (Proverbs 9:9).
- “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers” (Proverbs 11:14).
- “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others” (Proverbs 12:15).
- “Plans go wrong for the lack of advice; many advisers bring success” (Proverbs 15:22).
- “Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life” (Proverbs 19:20).
- “Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice” (Proverbs 20:18).
God granted Solomon wisdom, and part of that wisdom from God was that we need to seek wise advice from others. That’s not how I would have handled that if I was God. If I was God, I would say, “Wisdom comes from me alone. Don’t listen to the advice of others.”
Recently, I was reading the account of King Rehoboam in I Kings 12 and II Chronicles 10. The irony of Rehoboam’s story is that he was the son of Solomon. As he transitioned into power, he needed to determine how he was going to rule his people. Initially, Rehoboam sought the advice of his elders. The older, more-experienced advisers told the king to be kind to the people. If so, the people would remain faithful and would always be the king’s servants.
Then Rehoboam sought the counsel of a different group of advisers. They were younger men. They had grown up with the king. One could argue that since they were so close to Rehoboam, they told the king what he wanted to hear. Their advice was different. They encouraged the king to treat the people harsher. They encouraged the king to make the burden even heavier.
Rehoboam made a poor decision. He followed the direction of the younger, less-experienced advisers. As a result of that decision, the people of Israel rebelled against his leadership. What’s fascinating is it says in this passage that this poor choice was “from God.” Isn’t it interesting? Since Rehoboam distanced himself from the heart of God, God allowed Rehoboam to make a poor decision and face the consequences.
As Christ-followers we have the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in us. John 14:26 says the Holy Spirit “will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” It’s as if we’re receiving wisdom directly from God. Again, if I was God, I’d say, “The Holy Spirit is sufficient. There’s no need for seeking the advice of others.”
Yet that’s not God’s design. He designed us to teach others. He designed us to be in relationship with others. He designed us to mentor others. He designed us to learn from others. We see examples of this throughout Scripture. Wisdom comes from God, but it oftentimes comes through the counsel of other people.
If I was God, I’d just tell people what to do and expect them to do it. In my world, it would be very easy to determine right from wrong, but we’d miss out on the joy of learning from the experience and wisdom of those around us. We’d miss out on the reward and the sense of accomplishment of the learning process. We wouldn’t experience the relational benefits from leaning on others. We wouldn’t reflect the nature of God, because we wouldn’t be creative. We’d be rule-followers. Following rules is easy, but that’s not the way God designed us.
Does wisdom come from God? Yes, but God uses other people to impart his wisdom. And, for reasons we may never understand, he gives us the choice of deciding who we will listen to and who we will ignore.
Because of that, it elevates the importance of discerning who is in our circle of influence. It forces me to ask these questions…
- What does the Bible say?
- What does my wife say?
- What does my team say?
- What do the experienced experts say?
If Solomon was so wise, maybe we ought to learn from him. Rather than determining, “What should I do?” Maybe we should focusing on, “Who should I ask?” In other words, we need to look around us and determine…
Who’s the wise guy?