Self-Indulgent Thinking

Beatrice Schoenrock | June 11, 2019

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1 Samuel 13:11-14

“What have you done?” asked Samuel. 


Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” 


“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” 

1 Samuel 13:11-14 


Self-indulgent thinking is a subtle sin with big consequences. We see this in the life of King Saul.  


Saul was in a difficult situation. The Philistine army was gathered, ready to attackthe Israelites were outnumbered and lacking the weapons and technology of their enemy. The prophet Samuel told Saul to wait for him as Samuel would offer sacrifices and find out from the Lord what Saul was to do. The king and the troops were “quaking with fear” and the men began to scatter.  


Saul did not wait for the prophet. He offered sacrifices on his ownbreaking the command of the Lord. 


Saul let himself be driven by fear. Rather than waiting for the Lord as instructed, Saul indulged his own pride and insecurity by acting ahead of God. He allowed himself to do what he wanted because he trusted his fear more than the Lord’s command. His inability to exercise self-control over his thinking led him to sin. When Samuel asked him what he has done, Saul blames Samuel, his men, and his enemies.  


In The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, Larry Richards and Lawrence O. Richards provide this insight:  

Samuel told Saul at one point that a decision he made to offer sacrifice to the Lord 

was “foolish.” The word does not indicate a lack of intelligence, but a lack of moral and 

spiritual insight. The fool is impetuous, tends to rebellion, and insists on his or her own way. Only a growing relationship with the Lord and submission to Him can free us from the foolishness that is bound up in the heart of everyone. 


When circumstances were difficult, Saul self-indulgently gave in to fear, impatience, and unbelief. This led to foolish action, which cost him the kingdom. Because Saul did not obey God in this matter, God took the kingdom away and gave it to another.  


King Saul’s example teaches us that our thinking influences our hearts and our actions. Indulging in worry and fear leads us away from trusting the Lord. Indulging in self-pity moves us to act in ways that please ourselves and not God.  


Questions for reflection and discussion: Do you indulge in thoughts of self-pity? Fear? Doubt? Ask someone who knows you well. If the answer is “yes” or “sometimes,” what are some practical steps you can take to turn your focus to God in these times? 

This week's devotions were written by Beatrice SchoenrockBeatrice attends Wheaton Bible Church with her husband, Luke. She has worked at Christianity Today and the Wade Center at Wheaton College, but these days she spends most of her time wrangling their two energetic toddlers. 

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