Recently, the title of my devotional was about ‘goads’. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no reference to them at all. None! Can you believe it? I can! Actually, I have a good excuse. My laptop computer experienced three ‘freeze outs’, which goads me! There’s that word again! Can be found in Ecclesiastes 12: 11. Solomon says(not ‘Simon Says’!) that ‘the words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails–given by One Shepherd’. Like a goad. What in the world is that?
It’s a sharp metal point attached to the end of a long stick, keeping the sheep moving in the right direction. A shepherd uses a goad to keep the flock together, not wandering off into dangerous places. We, as Christians, know that the Bible contains God’s love letters. But some portions seem more like ‘tough love’. As a goad that pokes us, keeping us moving in His direction. Out of trouble. Out of ditches we stumble into with the greatest of ease.
I marvel at my natural ability to fall into some hole of my own making. Not proud of this. Not for one moment. Bet I’m not the only one so ‘gifted’, and I’m no betting man! The Bible is like a goad, Solomon says. It tells us to watch out. Be careful. There’s more here than good old ‘pats-on-the-back’, ‘all about me’, ‘I’m Okay… You’re Not So Hot!’ stuff. There are hard words to hear in our Bibles, as well. Some knuckle-rapping discipline that’s well-deserved. For ‘…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God'(Romans 3:23). ‘All’ still means ‘all’ in my book. No exceptions except for the Lord Jesus. He’s God in the flesh. We’re not. Yes, we’re made in God’s image, but flesh nevertheless. This is why we need His help, gentle or otherwise. Often I need a proverbial swift ‘kick-in-the-pants’ from the Lord. And I find that in the Bible. Not everywhere.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16: ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…’ The Bible comes from God Himself. Through varied personalities of its human authors. Containing not only good news but correction. And rebuking, as well. Along with training and teaching. Balanced words. From His hand to ours. Not the back of His hand. No, but the hand that helps us up off the ground of our own foolish making. Goads may sting a bit here or there. But they are meant to help us in our journey of life, led by the Good Shepherd of the flock. Take ALL His words into your heart. Are you ready? I think I am. Still don’t like the pain of that sharp, pointy goad! It’s okay. I know whose hand holds it. Does that not make all the difference?
Prayer: Help us, Lord. We need your steady hand. In Jesus’ name. Amen.