This is one of those interesting verses that can be looked at in several different ways....ready to dig in?
My title is alluding to a popular hobby for some people: rock climbing, or rock-wall climbing. There are some important safety measures that should be followed in that sport, to ensure the climber doesn't fall (far) and is able to come back to play another day. There's a harness with lots of buckles; there's someone keeping an eye on you; sometimes that person is holding your rope; sometimes there is even a safety net.
With that picture in your imagination, let's look at the layers of meaning in this proverb. The first layer is talking about the possible ruin of a kingdom . . . when things are done rashly, impulsively, without consultation among a group of advisors. For a tribe or a nation (possibly Solomon was looking across the borders at another kingdom) to make decisions without prudent consideration, or without a thought of the common good, is dangerous. Then it is that the people can fall --- they can crumble into factions and quarrel amongst themselves, or they can fall prey to an outside influence, like another nation that is intent on conquering them.
The other side of Solomon's coin is that when a tribe or nation has "a multitude of counselors" they may be more able to discern the correct path for their country and follow it closely. If the advisors see the need for one another, and are concerned about the common good, then that nation is far less likely to fall.
Now, let's go peel back another layer on this proverb (don't worry --- this won't make you cry, the way an onion will!) and look at another meaning. In our private affairs (which seem to us just as weighty as a kingdom's problems) we often find it advantageous to consult with others. Here's our multitude of counselors again! But we need to tread carefully here: while it is good to compare advice from several people (if they all agree, you may have a compass sighting you can use!) we need to be certain that our advisors are Christians, and that they are steering us in a godly direction. If they agree in their advice, our way will be more clear; if they differ, we can hear what is to be said on all sides, and be better able to determine. So, that can be a safety net, too.
Here's the last layer (and I have this feeling that it's the most important one!): if there are a "multitude" of verses that seem to be saying the same thing to us, I think we can say that is guidance we would do well to listen to! Ya think? (Next week, Tonya will be working through more of chapter 11, and I peeked at some of the verses . . . many of them have to do with our lips, our speech, etc. I have a feeling MY toes will be purple after some of those proverbs are explored!)
I've heard it said, that if it is in the Scripture once, it is important. If it is in the Scripture multiple times, God didn't want us to miss it! Quite frankly, if it is in there only once, it's just as important, but I get the speaker's drift, don't you? If we have several verses that back up our decision, our attitude, or our behavior, then we can be much more likely to be climbing correctly, and we can look and check our safety net, and be confident!!
Is your harness buckled? Have you got your safety net in place?