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Wonderful Counselor

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV, emphasis mine)

As Isaiah continues with his prophecy from the Lord, we now see four great attributes or characteristics of Messiah.

We also see the progression of Messiah, from helpless baby, to promised king, to exalted Savior.

Some scholars see the first two words (“Wonderful Counselor”) as one phrase, while others see them as two separate Divine attributes.

We will look at each word separately, then allow you, the reader, to decide if these are two thoughts or one.

The word “Wonderful” (Hebrew “pele’ “) is a noun that indicates something miraculous, something so hard to understand that only God could perform, with no other plausible explanation.  The first usage of this word is immedidately after God had parted the Red Sea, brought the Israelites through on dry ground, then wiped out the entire Egyptian army that had pursued them.  Listen to part of Moses’ worship song:

11 Who among the gods
    is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
    majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
    working wonders?
(Exodus 15:11 NIV, emphasis mine)

We do well to remember, as the palmist did, God’s providential and miraculous hand in history, as a promise of what He will do now and in the future:

11 I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

You are the God who works wonders;
You have made known Your strength among the peoples.
(Psalm 77:11,14 NASB)

The word “Counselor” (Hebrew “ya`ats“) is a verb that means to advise, guide, or consult with, in order to care for or protect another.  Most often this word is used in the sense of giving good advice, but it is also sometimes used to give selfish or evil advice.

The psalmists capture the heart of God’s good advice to us, His counsel:

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
(Psalm 16:7 NIV)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
(Psalm 32:8 NIV)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great British preacher from the 1800’s, captured our need for a wise and wonderful Counselor in Messiah:

“It was by a Counsellor that this world was ruined. Did not Satan mask himself in the serpent, and counsel the woman with exceeding craftiness, that she should take unto herself of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in the hope that thereby she should be as God? Was it not that evil counsel which provoked our mother to rebel against her Maker, and did it not as the effect of sin, bring death into this world with all its train of woe? Ah! beloved, it was meet that the world should have a Counsellor to restore it, if it had a Counsellor to destroy it.”
(C.H. Spurgeon, sermon number 215, Sept. 26, 1858)

As you worship today, thank the Father for the Wonderful Counselor he sent us in Jesus the Messiah, and how we as followers of Christ have His Counselor living in us (John 14:26) to guide us and protect us and lead us.


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