God’s Goads

Saul the scholarly member of the Sanhedrin, (the Supreme Court of the day) was a prime persecutor of the followers of Jesus. So zealous was he the court appointed him the chief investigator of the resurrection, giving him the credentials to ferret out, persecute, imprison, and even kill believers. He was anti-Jesus.

On his way to Damascus to persecute believers there he encountered Jesus and Saul the persecutor became Paul the Apostle. This transformed follower of Jesus was divinely appointed as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Facing the possibility of the death penalty, Paul stood before King Agrippa, Queen Bernice, Governor Festus, and other dignitaries in chains a defender of the gospel giving this testimony, “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)

As an aside Jesus asked why are you persecuting “me?” It was the church Saul was persecuting, but the church was so precious Jesus referred to it as Himself. This speaks of the vitality of the church.

Then the statement, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” The word translated goads is better understood today as “pricks.” When oxen were being used for plowing they needed guidance and often discipline. A long sharp pole was used to prick the animal on the flank, that is, poke it. At times a rebellious ox would resistantly kick against the pricks. 

Jesus had brought influence to bear on Saul, to guide and discipline him. Paul had kicked against them, that is, rebelled against them. On occasion Saul had resisted God’s chastisement intended to direct and discipline him.

When an ox kicked against the prick, it hurt the ox more than the initial prick. His kick was met with a kickback. 

King David had used the ox analogy regarding his experience, “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you.” (Psalm 73:21-22) May that caution enlighten us so that we avoid such an experience when disciplined by the Lord. 

Some contemporary goads are: friends, deaths, sermons, suffering, doctrine, difficulty, adversity, affliction, godly counsel, holy confrontation, conviction of the Holy Spirit, financial reversal, natural disasters, business failure and academic probation. Add your own list as you consider your own experiences.

Consider times that in retrospect you kicked against God’s goads.

In our hours of disobedience Jesus goads us in order to direct or discipline us.

May our responses be positive and affirming, not a kickback to them.