Lots of examples exist in scripture of individuals who followed bad advice. It begins with Adam taking Eve’s advice to eat the piece of fruit (Genesis 3). It goes at least through Peter’s decision to follow the crowd (John 18).
Probably the most concentrated source of examples are found in 1 and 2 Kings as well as 1 and 2 Chronicles. Most of the kings chronicled were not good kings, and a good deal of their errant ways can be traced to their decision to follow bad advice.
Advice has a way of sending a person in either a good or bad direction. In other words, the advice we receive from others often impacts the decisions we make. Sure, following any advice, good or bad, is a choice. However, we cannot diminish the impact of the company we choose to keep either.
“Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” (Psalm 1:4-5)
How can we protect ourselves from bad advice? Psalm 1 gives the answer.
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night.” (v. 1-2)
Following bad advice is easy when a person spends too much time around the wrong people. Notice the words used in verse 1.
Walk. Stand. Sit.
They indicate more than just a passing state. They show dwelling and spending time. Apply this idea to the examples discussed above of those who followed bad advice, and it is easy to spot the walking, standing, and sitting that led to following bad advice.
Protecting ourselves from bad advice involves turning our focus to what God says. Look at verse 2.
Delights. Meditates. Planted.
If you study examples of those who followed good advice — Esther and King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35) for starters — you’ll these words in action. Their lives show the impact of choosing to focus on God’s words and desires and how that results in following good advice and avoiding bad.
Knowing what God wants by spending regular time in prayer and studying Scripture results in receiving wisdom, which allows us to know bad and good advice when they come at us. What’s more, knowing God’s heart helps us to better choose the company we keep in the first place.
Psalm 1 also tells of the benefits of delighting, meditating and being planted in God’s wisdom.
“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not wither; and it whatever he does, he prospers.” (v. 3)
The examples of those in Scripture who followed good advice based on their dwelling in God’s wisdom bear the truth of this verse. I encourage you to read through their stories and study their lives. Not perfect people, but people who continually sought God and the wisdom he freely gives.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)