At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
Without counsel purposes are disappointed: But in the multitude of counsellors they are established.Proverbs 15:22
The first thing to do with this proverb is to gather the wisdom that lies on the surface of it. We may then go on to discuss how the principle involved might be misapplied.
If a man has a head full of plans, and he doesn’t check with anybody about anything, he is probably going to encounter a number of rude surprises. “Without counsel purposes are disappointed.” In other words, if he had only checked with someone who had done this before, he might have found out about this important task, or that important prerequisite. The proverb is aimed at the industrious fellow who doesn’t believe that he needs to budget for the possibility that he might be wrong about something.
Over against this, we learn that a “multitude of counselors” is a good thing. The man with plans in this scenario sees that his plans are “established.” Two heads are better than one, and ten heads are better than two.
How might this principle be misapplied? A man with a watch knows what time it is, while a man with three watches is never sure. In other words, in order for the words of this multitude of counselors to do any good, it is necessary for their words to be weighed, or sifted, or evaluated, or compared. When you seek counsel from ten different men, it is highly unlikely that they will all say exactly the same thing. And that means, for example, that if you seek counsel from ten men, you will probably not do what eight of them suggest.
That does not make the seeking out of counselors an exercise in vanity. It is worthwhile to weigh what everyone says, and to consider their objections and concerns. There is wisdom to be found in all ten, and not just in the counsel of the two you heeded.
And in any case, it is far better to be talking with others about where you might be mistaken than to be trapped inside your own head, that place of continuous applause.