"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).
This is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible related to gaining wisdom and direction from God. Yet, I have never heard one teaching on this passage that teaches what I believe the Psalmist is really saying. The first part is pretty easy; we are to trust with all our heart. But the next part is not so clear. We are not to lean on our own understanding. If we are not to lean on our own understanding, who's understanding are we to lean? God's!
Throughout the Old Testament we find that God set up structures in which those in authority made decisions. God has always set a principle whereby we are to seek Him in all our decisions that He might truly make our decisions. In the Old Testament, the priest made decisions based on which way the Urim and Thummin fell inside his breastplate. The casting of lots was another means of allowing a decision to be left with God. Proverbs says that "the lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." Still another means of making a decision was through the agreement of two or three. No one could be guilty of any crime without the witness of two or three. This was a Biblical way of confirming a matter. Still another means of making a decision is through a multitude of counselors.
Given all of these scenarios, what are we to gain from these examples? We are told in Jeremiah 17:9 that "the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure." So what really protects each of us from the deceit of our own heart? I believe it is the combination of all of the above. When we get to a place with God that our decisions are accountable to others, whether that be a wife, a board, or a few close friends who are committed to the same Godly ideals, this is when we are protected from the deceit of our own heart. This is one of the hardest things to yield to God -- the right to make our own decisions. Yet, it is the most elementary principle. God requires of us to receive His blessing in our lives.
This principle took a long time for me to appropriate. However, today I can tell you I would never make a major decision without the counsel of others who are close to me. Relational accountability has become lost in our culture due to our hunger for independence. I have experienced too often the hardship that results from making decisions that God isn't behind. Walking in obedience is the only real freedom in Christ.