Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
1. Disappointments are the common lot of man. Prince and peasant, prophet and people, wise and unwise, rich and poor, young and old — all have suffered disappointment. Eve was disappointed in the good promised her if she ate of the tree of knowledge. The builders of Babel were disappointed. Solomon sought to find happiness in all human inventions, but had to write on them all, "Vanity!" So we might pass through the whole range of human history, from Alexander to Napoleon, and find disappointment the common lot of all.
2. The number of disappointments are incalculable.
3. The variety of disappointments which men suffer is very great. Men are disappointed in carrying out schemes of ambition, in securing preferment, in amassing and holding wealth; yes, even in carrying out plans of good, benevolence and charity.
4. The bitterness and melancholy results of these disappointments are worthy of note. Many a bright and happy life has been for ever clouded and depressed by early disappointment. Many a life has been shortened, and many another tragically ended, because of some overpowering disappointment.
5. The sources of disappointments are many. In general terms we may say they belong to a sinful world, where all is confusion, uncertain, and deranged. Disappointments arise from man's shortsightedness, mistakes, failures, and weakness. The connection of our text reads: "Without counsel purposes are disappointed." We cannot control events, or foresee contingencies that may intervene or insure the capacity, integrity, and fidelity of others. We are constantly taken by surprise at things springing up that we never dreamed of, and made no provision for.
6. The use to be made of disappointments.
(1) They teach us the uncertainty of all human expectations and our absolute dependence upon God (James 4:13-15).
(2) Our own impotence.
(3) We are to expect disappointments.
(4) When they come accept them resignedly, not stoically but look at them rationally.
(5) Disappointment may sometimes be better than success.
(6) There is one thing that can make all disappointments blessings. It is said that Croesus had some magic power about him by which he turned everything he touched to gold. There is more than a magic power which the believer wields over the trying dispensations of life; there is a Divine power. "All things" — disappointments included — "work together for good to them that love God."
(G. Hutchinson Smyth.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellers they are established.