Counseling Principles from the Book of Proverbs:

Heart Dynamics and Principles

Dr. Brian Allison

I. The Nature of Counseling

  1. All true and effective counseling begins with the spiritual disposition or attitude of fearing God (1:7; 8:13; 9:10; 15:33), for the fear of God guarantees the needed wisdom to address and deal with life's issues and problems. The fear of God not only ensures and reveals a right relationship with God (which necessarily results in spiritual prosperity), but also qualifies and prepares one to receive wisdom and instruction (i.e., good counsel) from God for one's own benefit and for the benefit of others (cf. 2:4-6; 9:10f.; see also 10:27; 15:33; 19:23). Thus, effective counseling demands that both the counselor and the counselee evidence the virtue of the fear of God – the counselor needs wisdom in order to help the counselee; and the counselee needs wisdom in order to actually overcome his or her problem.

  2. Counseling is essentially communicating and experiencing God's wisdom (2:6; 8:14,34f.).

  3. Good counseling is essentially a spiritual matter (1:23). The Spirit Himself must give insight, understanding, and direction.

  4. Effective counseling necessitates gathering and understanding all the pertinent data (15:28a; 18:13). Wisdom requires knowledge and understanding.

  1. The Counselor

    1. The moral (i.e., righteous) character of the counselor directly affects the effectiveness of his or her counseling (10:11,32). Wise counsel accompanies moral character (10:20a,31a,32).

    2. The wise counselor disseminates and inculcates knowledge (15:7). The wise counselor is insightful (16:21). The presence of wise people produces wise people (13:20a).

    3. A gifted (even trained) counselor can draw out the issues of another's heart (20:5).

    4. The effective counselor experiences joy and personal fulfilment from providing counsel and sharing helpful words (12:20b; 15:23; 24:26).

III. Counseling Methodology

  1. Wisdom is a primary means by which someone is healed – emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually (24:13f.).

  2. The right and relevant use of the words of wisdom can effect spiritual, emotional, and psychological health and prosperity (1:33; 4:20-22; 12:18,25b; 20:15; 25:11; 13:14a; 27:9).

  3. Kind, encouraging, and pleasant words are spiritually and emotionally empowering, but hurtful, spiteful words are spiritually and emotionally damaging and defeating (15:4; 18:21).

  4. Kind, encouraging, and pleasant words (or news) effect physical well-being (15:30; 25:25).

  5. A pleasant, kind word quells a person's anger, but a biting, critical word provokes anger (15:1).

  6. Meditation on God's Word (in which is wisdom), and obedience to the same, results in spiritual, emotional, and psychological prosperity and health (3:1f.,7f.; 13:13; 16:20a).

  7. Obedience to the words of counsel effects positive change and personal well-being (10:17).

  8. Understanding and feeling God's truth and wisdom allows one to sleep peacefully (3:12,24).

  9. Counseling a disobedient, rebellious person is generally fruitless; the person will tend to resent you and reject your words (23:9).

  10. Endeavouring to superficially or insensitively cheer up a troubled, distressed, or emotionally distraught person produces vexation in the sufferer (25:20).

  11. Address and confront a person's sin, rather than trying to avoid such because of the desire not to offend or cause hurt (27:5,6). Received rebuke produces emotional and spiritual healing (15:31).

  12. Righteous and integral behaviour and conduct effect personal, emotional, and spiritual well-being, as well as inner strength; evil, perverse behaviour and conduct effect the opposite (10:2b,9; 11:18,19, 28b,30; 12:3,7,28; 13:21b; 14:11b).

  13. Godly fear promotes and effects personal, emotional, spiritual, and even physical, well-being (10:27; 14:26f.).

  14. Gaining various perspectives and receiving different input on counseling issues ensure greater counseling effectiveness and success (11:14; 15:22).

IV. Counseling Psychology: Understanding the Heart

  1. The heart is the source and root of all of life's transactions and issues, and thus is the source and root of many of life's personal (and relational) problems (4:23). A person is defined and understood in terms of what is in his or her heart (23:7a).

  2. It is possible to understand the human heart, both one's own and another's, for the same dynamics govern them all (27:19).

  3. No one can ever fully understand his or her heart's motives (20:24).

  4. A person is often aware of the nature and reason for his or her own heart's discontentment or dissatisfaction (14:10a).

  5. We can control and direct our hearts to some degree (23:12,19,26).

  6. The heart's desire can be controlled and managed by the exercise of the will (6:25).

  7. The heart is characterized by deceit, evil, and sin (20:9; 22:15; 23:7b; 26:25).

  8. The deceitful heart tends toward evil schemes (12:20).

  9. The heart's need for acceptance and approval produces deceptive, and even manipulative behaviour (17:9a).

  10. The heart is naturally self-justifying and self-excusing (21:2).

  11. When a person's heart's desire is satisfied, he or she has a sense of personal well-being (13:19a).

  12. Pride in the heart is the undoing, and even destruction, of a person; whereas humility brings growth, prosperity, and success (11:2; 16:18; 18:12; 29:23).

  13. Suffering purges the heart from moral and personal evil (20:30; 22:15).

  14. Alcohol distorts and skews the heart's perception and understanding (23:29-35).

  15. Idolatry in the heart, and misplaced trust, as well as associating with the wrong company, effects personal ruin (11:28a; 29:3).

V. Counsel concerning Emotions

  1. A selfish heart harbours resentment, anger, and hatred (23:6-8).

  2. Hatred creates relational dissension and strife, but a loving attitude results in forgiveness and kindness (10:12).

  3. Hatred is often masked or concealed by lying, falsehood, flattery, and deceit (10:18; 26:24f.).

  4. A person who is easily angered acts recklessly and immorally (14:17,29).

  5. Deep anger in the heart precipitates and perpetuates problems (14:17a; 19:19).

  6. Self-centred anger in the heart produces the behavioural fruit of immorality and indecency (14:29).

  7. Jealousy causes one to lose self-control and become dangerous (6:34f.). One may become hurtful and vindictive (cf. 27:4).

  8. Deep envy has a detrimental effect on physical health (14:30b).

  9. Envy produces violent scheming and inappropriate behaviour and actions (24:1f.).

  10. External appearances may contradict and belie the true feelings of the heart (14:3). One can, and may, cover up his or her emotional pain, deceiving the onlooker.

  11. Self-centred fear in the heart tends to emotional, psychological, and spiritual bondage; whereas trust in God brings liberty, strength and peace (16:20; 29:25). Trust in the Lord is the fruit of receiving instruction in the words of wisdom (22:19).

  12. Feelings of calm, peace, and tranquillity have a medicinal effect on physical health (14:30a).

  13. Stress or anxiety in the heart produces depression (12:25a).

  14. Sadness in the heart produces weakness of will and mind, a sense of lack of resolve or of defeat (15:13b). One may lose a sense of hope.

  15. The heart's loss of hope, resolve, or purpose has detrimental effects on one's physical health (17:22b; 18:14).

  16. The heart is disquieted and upset by a frustrated expectation (or desire) or an unexpected disappointment (13:12).

  17. Joy in the heart reveals itself by a cheerful, smiling face (15:13a).

  18. Joy in the heart has medicinal effects on one's physical health (17:22).

  19. A happy heart continually finds some enjoyment in life (15:15).

VI. Counsel concerning Relationships

  1. Fornication with an adulteress (or adulterer) brings moral and personal ruin (5:7-14; 6:24-33; 7:6-27; 9:13-18).

  2. The conduct and behaviour of children directly affects the emotional state of parents (10:1). A disobedient child evokes grief; an obedient child evokes gladness (15:20; 17:21,25).

  3. Disobedient, rebellious children despise and disrespect their parents (15:20).

  4. Proud, presumptuous, and arrogant behaviour creates social or relational disharmony (13:10; 28:25).

  5. An angry person creates disharmony and dissension (15:18a; cf. 26:21; 29:22).

  6. A person who disrupts his home does not prosper (11:29).

  7. A husband despises or resents a wife who embarrasses him (12:4).

  8. A dishonest or criminal person creates familial disturbance and upheaval (15:27).

  9. The betrayal of confidence dissolves (close) relationships (17:9b).

  10. Love creates an atmosphere of peace and acceptance (10:12b).

  11. Minor disagreements may develop into serious altercations (17:14).

VII. Counsel concerning Lifestyle

  1. Laziness and lack of discipline bring personal ruin (6:6-11; 18:9; 19:15).