Every person reading this chapter has been the recipient of bad advice. You listened as someone gave it to you. You followed the counsel you received and then suffered the consequences. We have all benefited from someone’s good advice too. We were unsure and confused, so we reached out to somebody we trusted. We received good counsel, followed the advice, and enjoyed the benefits.
Take for example Proverbs 12:15: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” You and I have experienced those very words. We have been foolish, thinking we were right, and along came a parent or teacher, perhaps a friend who talked some sense into our heads, thankfully. As a result we benefited from wise counsel.
“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man” (Proverbs 27:19). I’m sure you have known such occasions. You’ve had something deep in the well of your heart you’ve not been able to pull up. Along comes someone who loves you and has the ability to drop a bucket in that deep well of yours, pull it out, then splash the contents around for both of you to see it clearly.
I need to add that wise counsel is not always easy to hear. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). The Hebrew uses an interesting verb stem here. It’s known as the “causative stem,” which allows us to render the statement: “Trustworthy are the bruises caused by the wounding of one who loves you.” The bruise that comes after the verbal blow of one who loves you is a trustworthy bruise. In genuine love, your friend confronts you with the truth—you’re alone, in private, and you hear the hard thing that needs to be confronted. That bruise stays with you, and you’re a better person for it. Such bruising is much more helpful and reliable than a phony embrace, the “kiss” of a flatterer whom Solomon calls our “enemy.” Good counsel is a good thing, even if it hurts to hear it, whether you are the receiver or the giver of that counsel.