“The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.” – Ecclesiastes 12:11
“Goads“, sometimes called “pricks“, are pointy nail-like spikes strategically placed near the hind legs of plow animals. You see, when working a field to bring it to harvest it is very important that the oxen obey the will of their master or else they will tear the field up rather then work it. This can destroy the harvest which is bad for both the master and the oxen since both await the rewards of the harvest. Yet it’s hard for the oxen to see and understand that far in advance of his current situation, but the master does and he knows how to get from plow to harvest. However, it requires that the ox walk a very straight and narrow path to plow, seed, and sweep the rows.
As you can imagine, it’s very easy for the oxen to get distracted, tempted by what seems like greener pastures, lazy, or straight up stiff-necked and rebellious and start moving off course from the path the master wishes him to walk. Knowing how destructive this is to the field and future harvest, the master fashions “goads” to help prevent this. The goads are placed in a manner that if the animal begins to turn or veer of course, he will get pricked in the hind legs. If he straightens out and gets back on course, there is no farther contact with the goad (or prick). However, if they fight harder to go their own way, the prick will dig deeper into their flesh and become quite unpleasant and even painful. Furthermore, some particularly stubborn animals might let their pride, or even emotions like fear, cause them to try to fight back by kicking against the pricks causing themselves great needless pain and scarring themselves up in the process.
Now that we understand what goads and pricks are, we can see why Ecclesiastes says that the words of the wise are like goads. They might go against and prick our flesh (pride, emotions, desires, self will, and so on) but they are meant to keep us on track that we might reap a great harvest and reward, and to keep us from tearing up God’s harvest fields by trusting in our own limited vision, understanding, or emotions.
Jesus tells us in John 16 that all truth comes from the Spirit of truth, which is the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, likewise all true wisdom. This is why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, because when you begin to realize the pricks are there to goad you in the right direction you begin to walk in the straight and narrow of the wisdom of God’s plan and stop tearing things up trying to fight against it to walk in the lack of wisdom of your own.
Trust in the wisdom given you by the Holy Spirit of God. Trust it enough to seek it, to appreciated, and obey it. And when you find yourself receiving a prick to your flesh by the Holy Spirit because you have begun to bear off course, don’t get emotional, prideful, or fearful and fight against it! Be thankful and quickly correct your course and the pricking will cease!
Just like the master does not want his oxen to get pricked by the goads, nether does God want you to have to endure the spiritual equivalent of it. However, both the master of the oxen and God, having a plan for the provision of all, knows what has to be done to protect the field, the harvest, and the ox that is fed and rewarded by it. So trust His wisdom, He has an expected end for you and the harvest. Don’t fight His wisdom on how to get you there, and when your own thoughts begin to take over and you start to lead, rather then being driven and He pricks that flesh, take the warning with thankfulness and get back on course. Do not fight against the pricks! It’ll only make things worse.
“And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” – Acts 26:14
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