The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails — given by one Shepherd.Ecclesiastes 12:11
Solomon describes the value of Scripture: it is like a
goad. It makes you go where you would not ordinarily go; it delivers you by prodding you along.
I remember a man who was in the grip of a terrible depression for more than a year. But he was delivered by daily meditating on a simple statement he found in Scripture, the words of Jesus,
Not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42). Meditating on that day after day goaded him and urged him to think about his life in those terms. He was brought out of his depression within a relatively short time and never returned to it again.
Scripture is also a
firmly embedded nail. You can hang onto it in times of danger and temptation. Once in my own life when I was severely troubled of heart, one phrase from Jesus came into my mind again and again. It was where Jesus said to His disciples,
Let not your hearts be troubled (John 14:1a RSV). I was especially gripped by those two words,
Let not. They said to me that a troubled heart in the believer is subject to the will of that believer. He can let his heart be troubled, or he can let it not be troubled. The ground for letting it not be troubled is in the words that immediately follow: Jesus said,
Believe in God, believe also in me (John 14:lb RSV). When the realization struck me that my living Lord was there, with wisdom and power to handle the situation, I felt the lifting of my heart's load. That is the power of Scripture.
Why does it have this unique power? The reason, according to verse 11, is because
their collected sayings... [are] given by one Shepherd. These are inspired, God-breathed words. The heart of God is the heart of a shepherd; He sees us as wandering sheep in need of a shepherd's care. The fact that the Lord is our shepherd is probably the reason the shepherds of Bethlehem were chosen to be the first men to hear the wonderful words of the angels:
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). But in the hope that was awakened on that Christmas morning, there was the realization that the One who was born in the manger was the One of whom it was said,
the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6b).
Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to [the words of the wise], the Searcher says (Ecclesiastes 12:11). This is the word of wisdom to searchers for knowledge:
Of making many books there is no end (Ecclesiastes 12:12). It is right to read and search and know and learn. But beware of letting this take you beyond the simple fact that this book so clearly declares, that God is the answer to the reason for existence. Until we discover Him, study and books will never be of any continuing value to us.
Thank You for Your Word, dear Lord. May I allow it to function in my life as a goad that prods me towards You, as a firmly fixed nail I can hang onto, given by You, the Great Shepherd.
The truth is always attacked by a multiplicity of lies. Have we been guided by the Word of God? Have we discovered the simple, powerful, and restful truth in Christ?