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.
This also comes from the Lord of hosts;
he is wonderful in counsel
and excellent in wisdom. [ESV]
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Whenever I read Isaiah 9:6 I hear the chorus from Handel’s Messiah in my head. It’s one of the highlights of that magnificent oratorio. In that chorus, Handel separates the name of Jesus into two names, “wonderful” and “counselor”, as did most of the early English Bible translations. Although there are good reasons why “wonderful counselor” is the better translation, the emphasis on the first word should not be lost.
First, in the Old Testament, that Hebrew word is only used to describe God’s actions, never man’s actions. For example, when the angel of God tells Manoah and his wife his name is “wonderful” and ascends to heaven in a flame, they realize that they have seen God (Judges 13:17-22). Second, the form of the word in Isaiah 9:6 is actually “wonder”, indicating that not only is this counselor wonderful but he is himself a wonder. Clearly, this child to be born, this son to be given, is no ordinary human; he is God. Notice how God is described in the later verse in Isaiah that we read today.
This blessed child is also a counselor endowed with great wisdom. Wisdom is a trait all rulers need, and when we think of kings with wisdom we think of Solomon. His wise ruling early in his reign caused all Israel to hold him in awe because he had wisdom from God to administer justice (I Kings 3:28). Later we are told that the whole world sought an audience with Solomon because of his great wisdom (1 Kings 4:34). Yet, as we have seen before with other Old Testament figures who pointed forward to Christ, Solomon was a sinner, and Solomon died.
Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor. As Isaiah predicted, the spirit of wisdom, counsel, and knowledge would rest upon him (Isaiah 11:2). The crowds were amazed at him because he taught with authority (Matthew 7:28-29). When the temple guards sent to arrest Jesus came back empty-handed, their explanation was “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46). And when Jesus asked his disciples if they wanted to leave him, Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
So, if all the world sought after Solomon because of his great wisdom, how much more should all the world seek him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Jesus Christ, the Wonderful Counselor? Have you placed your faith in him? If not, do that today. Wise men still seek him.
Thou art my Counselor,
My pattern, and my Guide,
And Thou my Shepherd art;
Oh, keep me near Thy side;
Nor let my feet e’er turn astray
To wander in the crooked way.