“And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” –Acts 26:14
When I was studying to be a cabinet maker at a trade school connected with my local high school, we learned a lot about wood and how to cut it, shape it, and finish it into cabinets. One of the most important safety lessons that we learned is that “kickback” is the number one cause of injury in a wood shop.
Kickback is a strong violent reaction that a saw has when wood binds the blade of the saw that is being used. This can occur due to operator error or through natural phenomena. When kickback happens, the saw can throw wood across a shop or into the operator, or into another person, and can severely injure or even kill them. A person can also be cut as a result of kickback if a saw gets out of their control.
In our relationship with God, kickback is also hazardous and is a momentous danger for the believer. The difference is that this type of “kickback” is not an “accident,” or a natural phenomenon, as much as it is operator error, or disobedience to the will of God. When we kickback against the will of God there is great consequence and risk to our lives, to the lives of others, and to our faith.
Saul experienced reprimand from Jesus for kicking back against His will on the road to Damascus. Saul was persecuting Christians and going against the will of God and going against His people. When Jesus met up with Saul on the road to Damascus, He said: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”
In the Greek culture there was a proverb that spoke of “kicking against the prick,” or “kicking against the goad.” This meant going against what was required or against what was right or expected. We have a modern saying in our culture that is synonymous: “Going against the grain.”
A prick or goad was a long stick with a piece of sharpened iron fastened to the end of it. It was used to prod, goad, or spur mature oxen to do their work. If the oxen got off course or went or did something that they were not supposed to do, the plowman or worker would goad the oxen and it would be unpleasant. The oxen would then get back on track. If the oxen were stubborn, did not take the redirection, and kicked back against the prick, the result would be injury and would be even more unpleasant.
Often times in our lives, in our faith, and in our ministries, we “go against the grain.” We kick against the prick. We go against the will of our God. The result is not good. Going against God’s will can be devastating to our lives, to the lives around us, and to our faith. God has a direction and a way that He is trying to lead us that is best for us. God is leading. If we, like Paul and those with him, were to fall to the ground in humility and hear Him, then we would be far better off.
May we follow God’s will for our lives and not kickback at God. Would we be obedient to the will of God and not kick against the prick, the provoking of our Lord.