How to Fall Less Often

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 19 & 20

* Poetry: Proverbs 11

New Testament: Acts 5

From the assortment of proverbs that we find in chapter 11, I want to select one proverb for us to deliberate on in more detail. Let’s consider Proverbs 11:14, “Without wise guidance, people will fall, but with a multitude of advisors, there is deliverance.” Part of the context that must be inferred is who is the one needing “wise guidance” or else they will fall? Presumably this would be a king or governmental official of a city or nation who is in need of counsel in order to make good choices.

The metaphor “fall” can refer to any number of detrimental circumstances such as the decline in the local economy, the failure to enforcement of civil policies, or worse, being conquered and destroyed by an invading enemy army. Most likely the last circumstance probably forms the best background with which to interpret the proverb since the terminology of “deliverance” often refers to being saved from the threat of defeat in battle.

The parallelism structure of the proverb is antithetic where the two lines express opposing ideas. The first line says that if you don’t listen to “wise guidance” then you will experience a “fall,” but if you listen to a “multitude of advisors,” then you will have “deliverance.” The first line offers a negative outcome, while the second a positive one. These outcomes are intended to motivate the reader to understand that in order to not “fall” and in order to
have “deliverance” one must listen to counsel and instruction from trusted individuals. To ignore “wise guidance” will result in failure (i.e., defeat), but with the wisdom that comes from many advisors, there will be victory/safety. Thus, the proverb is exhorting the reader to listen to and learn to follow sound advice in order to make better decisions.

We may not be fighting battles where the quality of our military strategies can result in either being conquered or successfully defending a territory, but we are faced with difficult decisions every day about situations that can result in potentially negative outcomes. Think about a time when you made a decision, only to find out later that it wasn’t a very good decision because you realized something that you didn’t know beforehand, and then you thought to yourself, “If I only knew this at that time, I would have decided to….”

We probably have all had that thought—and perhaps some of us (like myself) have it quite often. If we ask for advice from others, oftentimes they can see things in a situation that we are blind to, or their experience from a similar situation can help steer you away from making a foolish decision. Whatever the case may be, we are better suited to make a smart choice if we gather “wise guidance” from others. Remember, “None of us is as smart as all of us!” So, don’t resist listening to the counsel of others, because to think that we know better is to prepare ourselves for a “fall.” And believe me, falling hurts!

-Jerry Wierwille

Reflection Questions

  1. When was a time that you “fell” because you tried to figure it out without hearing the wisdom of others?
  2. Who is currently in your list of people you turn to when you need advice? Do they provide wisdom and guidance?

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