Kicking Hard Against God’s Will
And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ (Acts 26:14 ESV)
According to Wiktionary, a goad is a long, pointed stick used to prod an animal forward. You can see the goad being used by the second man in the illustration above. Apparently, the goad was used to keep the animal moving in the direction of the master. The animal would kick, because the goad would hurt. Kicking back against the goad could cause the animal to be wounded. But the animal kept moving in the direction of the master.
Apparently, Jesus is telling Saul that you can’t kick against God’s will. By persecuting Christians, Saul was kicking against God’s will. So God uses a blinding light as His goad. It is quite possible that during Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, that he saw oxen being goaded along the road. In this case, the statement would have made sense.
So why does Paul mention this statement in this verse and not in Acts 9 or 22? First of all, it is a Greek and Latin proverb. Considering Paul’s audience, this phrase would have been relevant. Is it a problem that this phrase is mentioned here and not in Acts 9 or 22? No. Just as someone might reveal more of an account depending upon the audience, the same would be true with Paul in this case. He had no reason to mention more in his previous examples. Yet, on trial in a Roman court, with an audiance who spoke Latin and Greek, this statement would make sense.
But what does this statement mean to me? It means that sometimes I can’t fight God’s will in my life. God will keep shaping me and moulding me. This is the picture God uses in the Old Testament – moulding and shaping.
But sometimes God keeps me straight in His direction, even though I may try to kick against His will. God will use a goad, and it will hurt as I keep kicking. When I learn to be obedient to God’s direction, the goad won’t need to be used in my life. When I decide that I can go my own direction, because I think I know what direction is best for me, then God has the right to use His goad on me.