Daily Devotional

April 28

The Shepherd’s Goad

by Peter G. Feenstra


The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. Ecclesiastes 12:11

Bible Reading

Ecclesiastes 12:9–14


The Preacher repeatedly reminds us that life will be meaningless and full of dead-end streets if we don’t break away from an under-the-sun perspective. We need to think outside the box of what is secular (belonging to this life) and seek the things that are above. This is why the Preacher encourages covenant youth, “Remember your Creator! Don’t forget the One who made you and established a relationship of love with you.” In this final chapter the Preacher says, “Remember your Creator and don’t forget your Shepherd. For the wisdom I have passed on to you in these twelve chapters comes from one Shepherd. His rod and staff comfort you and at times they prod and goad you.” The Preacher writes, “The words of the wise are like goads... given by one Shepherd.” A goad is a long stick, sharpened to a point and used to prod animals to keep them moving in the right direction.

What is written in the book of Ecclesiastes prods us to move in the right direction. These words are far from being irrelevant to our present situation. We are to listen to the wisdom given by the one Shepherd as He warns us not to go down the dead-end streets of what is futile and meaningless. We are setting ourselves up for major disappointments and hurt if we do not look at life with an above-the-sun perspective. Human philosophy and religion based on human precepts and opinions will get us nowhere. That is why the Preacher says in verse 12, “Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” (NIV) The Preacher cautions us to watch what we do with the material that has been passed on to us. Don’t add to what you have learned with your own human wisdom, observations and conclusions. You and I may come across as sounding sophisticated and well-educated, but everything must pass through the sieve of Scripture. The world has millions of books, blogs, and magazine articles that people read. Yet every human insight, including that of Christian authors, must bow before the truth of Scripture. The words of the wise are like the electric prods farmers use to keep cattle going where they need to go. Those words can jolt and hurt us, but they are necessary as they keep us moving along on the path of life. Thank God for giving us the wisdom of the one Shepherd who shows us where we have come from and where we are going; He shows us there is nothing meaningless about life when we follow His direction.

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