Ignore This Proverb at Your Own Risk

A Brief Reflection on Proverbs 11:14

Brian Tubbs
One Minute Proverb

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Cartoon image of Napoleon generated via MidJourney

On June 24, 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte led his Grande Armée of over 600,000 soldiers across the Neman (Неман) River into Russian territory. This fateful decision triggered Napoleon’s downfall. It resulted in one of the most disastrous military expeditions in history.

It could have all been avoided had Napoleon listened to the wise counsel of those who warned him against overextending his empire, the logistical nightmares of such an invasion, and the severe Russian winter.

Napoleon wasn’t the first, and hasn’t been the last, leader to make a terrible decision against the wise counsel of those who knew better. And that’s what makes this 3,000-year-old proverb so timeless.

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14, KJV)

The Hebrew word for “counsellors” in this verse is יועצים (yo’atzim), which comes from the root word יעץ (ya’atz), meaning “to advise, consult, or guide.” It’s not talking about listening to opinions (of which there are many), but rather wise, thoughtful, and experienced guidance (which is not nearly as common but is always valuable).

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