The term biblical counseling never appear anywhere in the Bible, thus creating the dilemma defining the term. However, the words such as counsel, wisdom, and advice do appear. Walter A. Elwell (1988) defines counsel as “advice” especially legal matters. ” It was derived from the Latin word consilium from con-solere meaning to consult. Counseling therefore means consultation for an advice. The Eerdsman Bible Dictionary noted that counselors were commonly employed at the royal court.
The Vines expository Dictionary of the Biblical Words stated that the Greek word sumboulion for ‘counsel’ denotes a task “given, taken, and acted upon” such as in Matthew 12: 14 where the Pharisees devised a plan after conferring with one another against Jesus Christ, and finally executed that plan. Vines Completely Expository Dictionary stated that the word counsel was used throughout the history of the Hebrew language. The Hebrew word yaas, to counsel was first used in Exodus 18:19 where Jethro says: “Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.
You must be the people’s representative before God and bring your dispute to Him. ” In the passage, the word advice was used synonymously with the word counsel. Thus, Jethro counseled Moses. Citing the works of Jay Adams, Dr. Larry Crabb and Lawrence Crabb (1997) stated that the Greek word noutheteo includes the idea of verbal, directive, instructive confrontation (p. 147). One particular case attesting to this was in 2nd Samuel chapter 12:1-13, in whom King David was confronted by Prophet Nathan over his crime of adultery and murder.
Crabb noted that in Colossians 1:28 Paul mention that he nouthetically “confronts people in an effort to promote their maturity” (p. 148). However, it appears that in the Old Testament, the use of the word counsel does not primarily denote divine purpose. Indeed, most of its uses in the Old Testament were either political or military advices to kings which were meant for the destruction of their enemies. The particular case where in counseling was used for divine purpose was in exodus 18:19 when Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law advised him on how he could effectively serve the people with justice.
The word ‘wisdom on the other hand, was derived from Hebrew Hokma and Greek Sophia which according to J. D. Douglas and Mirrel C. Tenney only comes from God. Douglas and Tenney stated that “God is the source of wisdom and wisdom is the infinitely comprehension of all that is or might be” as mentioned by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:33-36, (p. 1066). Job 28:28 and Proverbs 1: 7 both teach that wisdom is given by God to people through the “fear of the Lord. Exodus 28:3 states that the wisdom given by God to man is manifested by their skills.
This was clearly confirmed by God in Exodus 31: 1-3 wherein God said “…and I have filled with him the Spirit of God with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of craft…. ” The main word hokma for wisdom (used 146 times in the Bible) means understanding. The other Greek word, Tushiyya – used only a few times meaning “sound wisdom” while the adjective hakam “wise” is used 102 times, as wise men 15 times. In the book of Ecclesiastes, wisdom is considered “in contrast to other as a possible highest goal of life but is not desirable rather it is rejected.
This is clearly reflected by in the following verses in the book of Ecclesiastes. Chapter 2:16 states: “For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool the wise man too must die. ” Another verse that particularly talks about the similarity of the culmination of one’s life both the wise and fool is depicted in Ecclesiastes 9:17-18; as stated: “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than a shout of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war but one sinner destroys much good. ”
The Greek Sophia for wisdom is used with reference to: (a) God – Romans 3:33 and I Corinthians 1:21 (b) Christ – Matthew 13:54 and Mark 6:2; (c) Human wisdom Another Greek word for wisdom is Phronesis, meaning understanding, that is, prudence. Vines Dictionary stated that “while Sophia is the insight into the true nature of things, Phronesis is the ability to discern modes of actions with the view to their results. Sophia is theoretical and Phronesis is practical. In Exodus 28: 3, God directed Moses to make sacred garment for Aaron through the men whom God had given wisdom.
This was also the case in chapter 31 of the same book wherein God instructed Moses to summon Bezalel son of Ur and Oholiab, son of Ahisamach both were skilled in all crafts, to make the tent of meeting between the people and God. These passages clearly involve the concepts above. Unfortunately, the word advice and plan does not appear in any biblical reference materials so there seemed to be no way to include them in the word study. The range of situations involving these concepts Biblical counseling according to Ed Welch is “as old as the history” of mankind and will thrive through out the next generations.
Welch noted that it started with God speaking to his people (Welch, p. 2). In the Bible times, counseling was either for good or for bad purpose. Elwell noted that the task of a counselor in the royal court was “like a United States cabinet member today. ” Biblical counselors of David and Absalom such as Ahitophel and Hushai held this position and were regarded not only as very influential in the king’s decision makings, but their counsel were held as “the oracle of God by the people, as mentioned in 2nd Samuel 16:23.
However, in chapter 17 verses 1 to 14 of the same Bible book, the counsel given by both Ahitophel and Hushai was meant for the destruction of both David and Absalom. Ahitophel counseled Absalom to attack the fleeing and weary David to destroy him for Absalom to be able to consolidate all people of Israel. However this advice was frustrated by Hushai and gave his version of plot against David, which in effect was meant to bring disaster on Absalom verse 14.
In the Old Testament, counseling was employed by kings as a form of political and military scheme as can be noted in many occasions such in 1st Samuel chapter 28 where King Saul sought counsel from a witch at Endor because of the great armies he was about to face in war. This was also the occasion with Absalom concerning the consolidation of his kingdom after David fled from the palace to escape from Absalom. Earlier, in the book of Judges Chapter 4, Israel’s leader named Barak also sought counsel from a prophetess named Devorah on whether he should go up against his enemies.
Counseling occupy prominent role both in the political and military adventures of kings in the Bible times but was seldom employed for spiritual purpose. Two situations in the Bible that use the biblical data as support The New Testament may not have many situations wherein these cases had been vividly using the biblical data above as support. Nevertheless, one particular situation perhaps, is found in I Kings 3: 16-28 concerning the wise ruling of Solomon. The passage tells about two prostitutes living in the same house and who had given both birth of a son.
Unfortunately, one of the children died and each of the mothers was claiming the baby alive. The dilemma of the case was that there was no one in the house except the two of them, when the problem occurred. When the case was brought to King Solomon, he rendered a sound judgment giving the live infant to his true mother. The Wisdom of Solomon was generally held a God-given wisdom. 1st Kings Chapter 3 deals about Solomon’s wisdom which he got from the Lord. In this case, Solomon’s counseling was based on the wisdom God has given.
The second situation is found in the book of Acts 23: 12-15. In this case, Paul was a prisoner in Jerusalem on account of his preaching the gospel of Christ. Verse 12 tells us that some forty men formed a conspiracy against Paul. Their intention was to kill Paul, so they went to religious authorities to consult their plan and to finalize the details in which the religious leaders will petition the commander in charge of Paul to bring him to them “on the pretext of wanting more accurate information. ” These men will then ambush the party along the way.
Parallel to this, it could be noted that Ahitophel’s counsel to Absalom was about David’s destruction, and Hushai’s advice was a conspiracy with David to frustrate Ahitophel’s advice to bring disaster on Absalom. Either way leads to destruction of either of David or Absalom. The scenario maybe different, but the ethics of counseling involved was just the same. It had the intention to destroy just as the counsel given by Ahitophel to destroy David or the counsel given by Hushai to bring disaster on Absalom.
The ethics involved is therefore bad ethics. According to Matthew Heney’s Commentary, Ahitophel gave Absalom a wicked counsel. The commentary goes: “Ahitophel counseled him to do wickedly, and so did as effectually betrayed him as he did who was designedly false, to him for those that advice men to sin certainly advise them to their hurt and that government which is founded in sin is founded in the sand” (commentary on II Samuel chapter 18)
The advice given by those fanatical men designed to kill Paul was acted upon by the religious leaders corresponding to the Greek sumbulion which implies action. Although the advises given were not meant to solve one’s problem, but given the concept of counseling above, it was quite clear that biblical counseling, or the counseling done by the biblical people were usually political and had destructive intent against the person or the people the counseling was directed.
This was also true with the advice given by Balaam to King Balak in Numbers chapter 22, when he was summoned to curse Israel so he could defeat them in battle. The Bible tells us that an angel of God appeared to him and warned him not to curse Israel instead, he should pronounced blessings, or he be killed by the angel. According to commentaries, although he pronounced blessings for Israel, he also counseled Balak to entice Israel to commit sin (Numbers 31:15-16).