Listen to Wise Advice

By Rev. Kevin Freeman

In late June of 1950, the Korean War began when the North Korean army invaded South Korea, quickly taking its capital, Seoul. United States troops and a small number of other United Nations forces landed to assist the South Koreans, but they suffered a series of defeats and were progressively pushed back toward Pusan, on the southeastern tip of the peninsula. By August, these forces were in danger of being driven into the sea by the seemingly inexhaustible tide of enemy combatants. Commander Douglas MacArthur planned a gutsy counter-strike to land troops by sea at Inchon, halfway up the peninsula on the western side.

Amphibious landings are among the most difficult military assaults to achieve. The forces are in a vulnerable position with no established land and must go up against a typically well-entrenched army. Inchon itself was not terribly friendly for this sort of maneuver. Naval Lieutenant Eugene Clark was tasked with gathering intelligence – quickly – for the Inchon landing. His work involved recruiting local help, entering enemy territory, neutralizing enemy forces on several small islands, and, most importantly, measuring Inchon’s complicated tides. He discovered that the planned landing approach was on mudflats that could not bear the weight of the U.N. forces. A landing in that location would have led to disaster. Instead, Clark found a landing approach that was feasible and on the day of the attack lit beacons that would guide the incoming assault force. Through the intelligence Clark gathered, the Inchon landings are known as a great victory for U.N. forces rather than an embarrassing defeat, which would have likely led to losing the war and allowing communism to envelop the peninsula. U.N. forces easily cut the enemy supply and communication lines, and within a few days the entire tide of the war was reversed.[i]

Intelligence matters. People act on the intelligence they receive and what they perceive to be reality. Good intelligence can lead to fantastic success, bad intelligence to utter disaster. The trick is knowing which intelligence to follow. David initially relied on the same kind of intelligence you and I often do: our own. His response was more of a knee-jerk reaction, like the angry punch on the playground from the kid who was just shoved. In the initial moments of a crisis, real or perceived, people often display a flight, fight, or fright response. David’s was clearly to fight.

A bit of backstory is warranted. After David successfully began leading Saul’s armies, Saul became so jealous that David had to flee this demented monarch or be killed. God led several other dispossessed warriors to David, and they had to travel around the region, often low on supplies. This kind of experience could easily fray a man emotionally. It also led to several excellent Psalms.

So David knew exactly what it was like to serve under someone who was unstable and often made offensively foolish decisions, yet he was unwilling to overlook Nabal’s insulting behavior toward him. In a fit of rage himself, David was ready to kill his own countrymen because their master was mean to him. It is amazing what we can justify in the moment, affirming whatever we feel as we act on those feelings.

The danger in David’s case was not that his land assault would be a tactical failure; it was that David would surely accomplish his strategic objective: the death of every male in Nabal’s household. David was lost in the sea of his own emotional rage, and he couldn’t make the amphibious landing back to reality and reason. He didn’t want to.

Enter Abigail. Her quick thinking and humble response were exactly what David needed. The guy ready for a fight had no defense against humility. Thank God. That was David’s response. Abigail had saved David from making a terrible mistake. He would have ceded the moral high ground of his position. He also would have been guilty of attempting salvation by his own hand. Abigail reversed the situation by providing timely advice and brought David back under control.

What are your intelligence sources? Do you rely more on your wit and emotions or on the wise counsel from the Bible and godly people? It is often the quiet, thoughtful people who have the best advice. Those are the same people who often get overlooked because a louder fool – sometimes the self – gathers more attention. Consider who you allow to speak wisdom to you. In the crisis, it requires a trained person to assess a situation accurately and make the right decision. Acting on good intelligence is crucial in a crisis, but that habit is formed long before, during every daily decision. So, with humility, depend on God’s Word, the prompting of his Spirit, and the wisdom from others He brings your way.

Personal Reflection

1. What are the top three “intelligence sources” you utilize before making a decision?

2. Are you more likely to make important decisions quickly or slowly? Explain.

3. What recent decisions have you made quickly without consulting God’s will?

4. What do you notice about Abigail’s quick actions that were decisive?

5. What barrier prevents you from hearing the counsel from God and others? What actions will you take to remove that barrier?


Putting it into practice

1. Thank someone whose good advice has helped you in the past.  Explain how that advice has served you well.

2. Consider a person you can give wise counsel.  Perhaps God is calling you to be like Abigail for this person.

3. Share this story with someone who does not normally attend church, and tell that person how you are trying to put it into practice.

4. Memorize Proverbs 12:15

Final Takeaway: A good “intelligence network” around you will include the Bible and godly people in each area of your life.

Group discussion

1. Share about someone who has given you good advice in the past.  How did this person help you?

2. Abigail’s humble response stopped a small army.  Why does humility tend to catch people off guard?

3. How does pride blind people from accepting wise counsel?

4. Do you most need to be like David – accepting wise counsel – or like Abigail – willingly offering good advice?  What life situation led to your answer?

Day Three

Elder, G. (2008, June 26). Intelligence in War: It Can Be Decisive. Retrieved March 22, 2020, from