Against The Goads
And when we all had fallen
to the ground,
I heard a voice speaking to me
and saying in the Hebrew language,
'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?
It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' (Acts 26:14)
So, what does it mean "to kick
against the goads"? This phrase is a proverb, and is used as a
metaphor to compare and show how two things that are not alike in
most ways are similar in one important way. God used this analogy in
describing the waywardness and stubbornness of Saul the Pharisee
before his conversion to become Paul the Apostle.
Many people in Bible times were
tillers of the soil. Oxen were used to work and plow the soil. The
goads were necessary tools used by farmers to prod animals to keep
them moving. A goad was usually a wooden shaft with a pointed prick
at one end. The farmer working the oxen would position the goads in
such a way as to exert influence and control over the oxen. If the
oxen were stubborn and refused the commands directed by the farmer,
the goads would be used to jab or prick the oxen. Sometimes the oxen
would further resist their masters by kicking at the pricks. As
result, the pricks would be driven deeper into the flesh of the
rebellious animals. The more the animals rebelled, the more the
The Bible teaches that the wise
instructions of a good teacher act like goads.
The words of the wise are
and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails,
given by one Shepherd. (Eccl 12:11)
Goads could also be used as
dangerous weapons to kill people.
After him was Shamgar the
son of Anath,
who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad;
and he also delivered Israel. (Judges 3:31)
These goads or pointed pricks
were not used on young oxen which had not being properly trained
yet. As the young animals were more likely to resist the prodding,
they would often get hurt seriously by the goads in the process.
Therefore, goads were used on more mature oxen which were
conditioned and were more easily guided by the farmers.
This example of kicking against
the goads was used to teach the lesson that it was foolish to rebel
against God-given authority, and any attempt to do so would simply
result in much greater distress and discomfort.
Saul was rebelling against God.
God had been trying to urge him to go in a certain direction, but
Saul was resisting against God and against His ways. And in doing
so, he was not just hurting others, he was also hurting himself. He
was not just persecuting the Christians, he was actually persecuting
Christ! His self-righteousness and zeal became uncontrolled as he
captured the followers of Jesus, chaining them and bringing them
back to Jerusalem for punishment. Many died as a result.
As he was nearing Damascus on
his mission, the Lord met him and blinded him with a bright shining
light from heaven. Saul fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying
to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who
are You, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus, Whom you are
persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."
It was interesting to note that
Saul was mature enough to respond correctly almost immediately. Our
Lord Jesus was a wise Master, and He knew how to guide this very
special vessel back to the work He had chosen for him.
As spiritual leaders and
teachers, we should always remember that there is a risk in using
sharp pricks to teach a young believer or a novice about the Way and
the Truth. Paul exhorted us in Ephesians 6:4:
And you, fathers, do not
provoke your children to wrath,
but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
As young ministers developing to
be the servants of God, we are encouraged to reach out for spiritual
maturity that will make us to be willing to be guided by the
directions of our Lord and the spiritual leaderships of our pastors
and elders He has placed over us, and also through the trials and
tribulations of life. We should seek to respond like Saul did, when
we are presented with challenges and opportunities for the service
of the Lord.
Pertaining to submission to
authority, the Apostle Paul exhorted us in Romans 13:1-3:
"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there
is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are
appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists
the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on
themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.
Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and
you will have praise from the same."
Peter also taught the same in
1 Peter 2:13-17: "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance
of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to
governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of
evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the
will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance
of foolish men-- as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice,
but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood.
Fear God. Honor the king."
Therefore, we should not kick
against the goads. We should learn to have respect for all that are
in authority over us. Early in our lives, we should learn the
importance of submission and obedience to our parents. Later, we
should learn to cultivate respect for our teachers in school, our
supervisors in the workplace and the authorities in the community
and the state. If we resist and rebel against these authority
figures in our life, we will have difficulty in learning to be
humble and submissive to the Lordship of Christ and our Father in
In Psalm 32:8-9, the
I will instruct you and
in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.
Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you.
We need to wise up when the Lord
chastens us because we are His children as He leads and guides us
through the journeys of life. We must follow Him, and not Him
following us! When we seek to go our own ways and disobey God, we
would only hurt ourselves. When we continue to rebel against God, we
are driving the pricks deeper, inflicting more pains and hurts to
ourselves. And that's the result that we would not desire to have.
And herein is an encouragement.
We have a great example, and He is our Lord Jesus Christ:
During the days of Jesus'
life on earth,
He offered up prayers and petitions
with loud cries and tears to the One
Who could save Him from death,
and He was heard because of His reverent submission.
Although He was a son,
He learned obedience from what He suffered and,
once made perfect,
He became the source of eternal salvation
for all who obey Him
and was designated by God
to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews
Jesus learned obedience from
what He suffered, and so must we. Only then can we walk and talk
with God, following Him and working with Him, co-laboring in His
kingdom and harvest fields, for His glory!
14 January 2010