I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. Psalm 16:7 (NIV)
As I entered the therapist’s office, I was immediately made aware of their qualifications as evidenced by the numerous degrees, certifications, and achievements displayed on the wall. This is very typical of professionals as they attempt to elicit our confidence in their abilities. I see the same thing when I walk into the offices of clergy and church laity.
The belief that the “buyer should beware” extends not only to products and services, but unfortunately to matters of faith. Can God be trusted? Does God really mean what He says in His Word? Therefore it may be helpful at this point in the series to explore the reliability of God’s counsel, especially for those who might question its dependability.
Last week we defined the whole counsel of God as God’s truth revealed in His purpose and His will. God communicates His whole counsel in two key ways—the Bible and through His Holy Spirit. To understand the counsel of God, it is important to first understand who God is?
Who is God?
This is the bedrock on which our spiritual confidence is built. Who is God? God is the “source” of all knowledge and the “power” behind the eternal plan for all Creation. The veracity of God’s counsel is based on its source and that source is God Himself. We will spend more time discussing this in, “The Reliability of God’s Counsel”, Part 2.
The biblical phrase, “before the foundation of the world” was chosen through inspiration of the Holy Spirit to highlight the eternal wisdom and knowledge of God as He created His plan of salvation, healing, deliverance, and redemption for mankind. God ordained His purpose according to His good pleasure” (Eph. 1:5).
Who is God to Me?
The reliability of the counsel of God is built, not only on who God is, but more importantly on who God is to me personally. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to receive advice and instruction from someone who is neither trustworthy nor “safe.” Trust and reliability are often built through relationship.
In our text today, David’s personal fellowship with the Lord was his greatest reason to trust God’s counsel. David had experienced God’s instruction and advice throughout his life beginning as a shepherd boy in the fields of Bethlehem, through his strained relationship with Saul (1 Sam. 18:9) to his ultimate kingship over nation of Israel (2 Sam. 5:4). God was always there to advise David on what to do and how to do it. Because of that David praised or “blessed” the Lord.
David’s “reins” (heart, NIV)—the seat of his emotion and affection—were further instructed by God in the night seasons. “Instruct” carries with it the idea of discipline and chastening (Heb. 12:1-12). “Night” is plural and suggests “dark nights” or “night after night” learning from God. God’s counsel, day or night, in the good or bad times, had always proven a trustworthy guide for David, one deserving all his confident.
Is God’s Counsel Reliable?
Paul warned Timothy, his young minister-in-training, of the coming apostasy—the abandonment of religious belief. He advised Timothy to teach the whole counsel of God, in this case, the scriptures, that are “profitable” (useful, NRS) for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Paul closed his teaching with the foretelling of a time when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having “itching ears”. They will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Does that sound like the world we are living in today?
We, as believer in Christ, can trust in the reliability of God’s counsel because of who God is and because of our relationship with Him. The whole counsel of God is the only dependable counsel for 21st century living.