Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
What makes nations great? Since all men came from Adam and Noah and are of the same blood, why are national differences so obvious and so great (Gen 3:20; 9:19; Ac 17:26)?
How are some nations known for counsel, sound wisdom, understanding, and strength? Why do they have a reputation among other nations as being superior by these measures?
The answer is very simple, and it has more impact on national power and prosperity than all the factors that men dream up combined. It is the degree of God’s wisdom in a nation. And where is that wisdom found? In the Bible, the inspired, perfect revelation from God!
Proverbs chapter eight is a long personification of wisdom as a woman. Lady Wisdom introduces herself (Pr 8:1-11), lists the blessings of wisdom (Pr 8:12-21), describes God’s use of wisdom in creating the universe (Pr 8:22-31), and concludes (Pr 8:32-36).
It is an error of interpretation to miss the context of this book and the figure of speech here and think Solomon wrote a mystical sermon about Jesus Christ. It helps to see his similar personifications of wisdom in other places (Pr 1:20-33; 3:13-20; 4:13; 9:1-12).
The context of Proverbs 8:14 is the wealth and power of nations, for Lady Wisdom continued on with clear descriptions of political prosperity and success. She described the blessing of justice for kings, princes, nobles, and judges of the earth (Pr 8:15-16).
The counsel, sound wisdom, understanding, and strength here are the discernment, knowledge, judgment, prudence, freedom, liberty, inventions, advances, enlightenment, conviction, commitment, leadership, and judicious authority that some nations have and other nations do not have. These are intellectual, moral, and spiritual virtues.
Men have wondered for centuries at the greatness of some nations and the ignorance and poverty of others. Adam Smith (1723-1790) thought he had identified some important factors, and his book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, published in the curious year of 1776, is still considered an important thesis to this day.
However, he and all other natural men lacking spiritual understanding overlook the most influential factor for the successes and destinies of nations. The decrees and providence of Almighty God are the primary reasons for the differences in all created beings, including nations (I Chron 29:10-13; Ps 33:12; 75:6-7; Isaiah 10:5-15; 45:9-10; Jer 18:1-10; Amos 3:2; Dan 2:20-22; 4:17; 5:18-21; Rom 9:21-24; I Cor 4:7; Rev 17:17).
God is the First Cause of all things, including nations. As the sovereign Creator and Ruler of the universe, His providential choices further affect them. He chose the smallest nation as His own for great blessing (Deut 7:6-10), and He denied His wisdom to all others (Ps 147:19-20). He promoted a great leader to destroy him (Ex 9:13-16). He used a nation to punish others, and then He judged it for their greed in doing His work (Isaiah 10:5-19).
There are also practical reasons. When a nation rejects God’s word, He will destroy that nation (Lev 18:24-30; 22:20-26; 26:14-39; Deut 28:15-68; Ps 9:17). When a nation fears God and the Bible, He will bless that nation (Lev 26:1-13,40-46; Deut 28:1-14; Ps 33:12-22; 89:15-18; 144:11-15). The ancient difference between Israel and Egypt is profound, as God protected and prospered His people, while helping them plunder their oppressors.
After leaving Egypt desolate and a base nation (Ex 10:7; Ezek 29:13-14), Israel took the cities, moved into the furnished houses, drank from the wells, and used the vineyards of the seven nations of Canaan (Deut 6:10-12; Josh 24:11-13). God annihilated the seven nations and blessed Israel to take their place based on obedience to His words. Yet such crucial and profound political wisdom is not taught in any university in the world.
Later, on several occasions, the last in 70 A.D., God scattered Israel, the Jews, among the nations, where the vast majority of them remain to this day. They lost their land, their favored status with God, their confidence and courage, and the advantages that made them distinctly superior to all other nations. Why? Because they rejected the fear of the Lord and obedience to His word to adopt the pagan customs of nations around them!
The United States of America developed rapidly from a few poor settlers on a wild continent inhabited by nomadic savages to be the wisest and most powerful nation on earth for one key reason – the word of God was preached and obeyed more in this nation than any other nation since Israel under Moses or godly kings like David or Hezekiah. It is folly to imagine any other reason for the American miracle than this one (Ps 33:12).
The pagan Indians, who did not read, write, calculate, build, or invent, could only watch the progress, unable to grasp the witty inventions and conventions brought by the white men. What made this difference? Why had the Indians never thought of the wheel in thousands of years of existence? They moved their belongings on travois pulled by dogs. The idea of a cart or wagon or chariot with wheels had totally escaped them.
Before America, there was England, where the Bible was also published, read, preached, and obeyed widely. These two nations were miracles after the Dark Ages that had blinded and enslaved Europe for over a thousand years. They had more counsel in their homes and public deliberations, wisdom in their courts and schools, understanding in their government and laws, and strength in their economies and militaries than any nation.
The sun never set on the worldwide British Empire, which was ruled from a small island of the sea with only a small population. America turned a wilderness into the most free, productive, prosperous, and peaceful nation on earth in a few decades, which could when called upon fight wars against multiple enemies on multiple fronts without fear of defeat. This was not coincidental, nor by human ingenuity, but rather by God’s great favor.
But now, with both nations in full-blown decline, the reason is just as obvious – they have forsaken the God of their fathers and His Bible. Both nations legislate and promote wickedness from abortion to same-sex marriages, from labor unions to bankruptcy protection, from pagan holidays to excluding prayer from schools, from cesspool entertainment to Godless education, and from neutered authority to confused civil rights.
Most churches that remain are dead with ritual, twitching with Charismatic nonsense, or compromising as fast as they can to attract the unregenerate and worldly. Both nations religiously are in the throes of the perilous times of the last days (II Tim 3:1 – 4:4). The reason the collapse has not fully occurred yet is for the righteous remnant still in them and their prayers (Gen 18:23-33; Jer 29:4-7; I Tim 2:1-2). Pray for the peace of Babylon!
Each year and each election shows further decline into the abyss of confusion, ignorance, folly, and moral depravity. Counsel, wisdom, and understanding cannot be found. Financial integrity and wealth are nearly gone. Military strength is only a fraction of what it was. Homes and institutions are jokes compared to previous generations. The proverb before you has never had a better illustration than Israel, England, and America.
For more instruction from this inspired rule of political wisdom, compare any nations in any generation. Measure their general religious practice by faithfulness to the Bible or its principles, and then quantify their overall counsel, sound wisdom, understanding, and strength as defined by God. Do not forget God’s sovereign choices among nations as well. Temporary aberrations are only exceptions, for they still confirm the general rule.
How do Catholic and Protestant nations compare? How do Muslim and Christian nations compare? What about nations practicing Buddhism, Hinduism, animism, ancestor worship, voodoo, and so forth? Remember only God’s definitions of the four traits in this proverb count. Differences in counsel, wisdom, understanding and strength are obvious.
Reader! You can personally grow in counsel, sound wisdom, understanding, and strength by taking heed to God’s word yourself (Ps 1:1-6; 19:7-11; 119:1-176). You can have the certain words of truth to give to those who ask you any question (Pr 22:17-21; I Pet 3:15). You can also build a family tree from children trained in the words of Lady Wisdom (Deut 6:4-9; Ps 34:11; Eph 6:4), which will distinguish them from others (Deut 5:5-10).
The Bible is God’s gift of wisdom to His children, and it is your gravest duty and most glorious privilege to read it, meditate upon it, memorize it, promote it, defend it, and obey it. It is the only light in a dark world (Ps 119:128; Is 8:20; I Tim 6:3-5; II Pet 1:19-21). It overwhelms any enemy, teacher, or ancient you will ever encounter (Ps 119:98-100. It can and will make you wise, if you will read it and attend to the faithful preaching of it.