Ecclesiastes: Godly Wisdom – Self Counsel

Have you ever counseled yourself? How did it work out for you? Let’s focus today on the danger of self-counsel. 

Ecclesiastes 1:16

I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”

The first phrase of this verse— “I said in my heart”—is textbook self-counsel. Solomon is not speaking to God; he is bragging to himself about himself. Notice his emphasis. “I have acquired great wisdom.” Solomon forgot that all his wisdom came as a gift from God (1 Kings 3:11-12). Solomon said that he was wiser than kings before him. Remember, he followed King David—the standard-bearer for all Israel’s kings. Next time we’ll see the results of Solomon’s thinking, but today let’s focus on the dangers of self-counsel. 

In my book Worn Out by Obedience: Recovering from Spiritual Fatigue, I have an entire chapter about self-counsel. Here are a few takeaways from that chapter.¹

  • “Self-counsel is a solo exercise in which I rationalize my actions and always get my way. In the process I set aside God’s promises and insert my plans based on how I feel at the moment. Self-counsel ultimately leads to self-deception.”
  • “Self-counsel will eventually lead to sin’s mastery over our thoughts and actions. God’s instruction is pushed aside; his truth is discounted. We give in to our sinful thinking, are absorbed by our sinful desires, and move to sinful action. Self-counsel sidelines God.”
  • “Self-counsel can make disobedience soothing to the soul . . .. With God out of the picture and obedience off the table, our hearts and minds move to the dark side.” 
  • “Self-counsel leads to self-directed actions and leaves God out of the picture.”
  • “Self-counsel concludes that God is not enough.”
  • “Self-counsel leads us to confirm our actions by the results.”
  • “Long trials, hope deferred, death of dreams, and the exhausting exercise of waiting can bring each one of us to the point of self-counsel. We are all at risk.”

There is more about self-counsel in that chapter of the book, but I’ll stop there and emphasize, “we are all at risk.” Be careful what you say to yourself. Spend your time talking to God. 

Father, please check my self-counsel. Help me talk less to myself and more to you. Help me focus on truth, not on the way I feel at the moment, or even on my past experiences. I desire to hear directly from you. Speak clearly to my heart I pray, O God. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 


¹ Ron Moore, Worn Out by Obedience: Recovering from Spiritual Fatigue (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2017), 89-108.


Today on The Journey:


Engaging in the Battle – Preparing for Battle: Weapons – Part 2


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