Psalm 119 is about loving God’s Torah, His statutes, commands and precepts. It is broken up into sections with strange looking words or letters which are the Hebrew alphabet. In the Hebrew Scriptures, each line of each section starts with a word beginning with this letter. This is called an acrostic poem. Each Hebrew letter also has a word picture associated with it giving greater meaning and symbolism to each line of the specific letter-ed section.
ל Lamed – A Cattle Goad, Staff
Prod or Urge Forward
“Your word continues forever, Adonai, firmly fixed in heaven; your faithfulness through all generations; you established the earth, and it stands. Yes, it stands today, in keeping with your rulings; for all things are your servants. If your Torah had not been my delight, I would have perished in my distress. I will never forget your precepts, for with them you have made me alive. I am yours; save me because I seek your precepts. The wicked hope to destroy me, but I focus on your instruction. I see the limits of all perfection, but your mitzvah has no bounds.”
A cattle goad is a long stick with a pointed end used for urging animals to move forward. It is used to guide livestock that are pulling a plow or cart or to round-up cattle. The expression ‘kicking against the goads’ was used by Yeshua when He confronted Paul on the Road to Damascus. Yeshua asked him, “Sha’ul! Sha’ul! Why do you keep persecuting me? It’s hard on you to be kicking against the ox-goads!’” (Acts 26:14).
God’s Word needs to be our delight so that in times of distress, we do not perish by ‘kicking against the goad.’ God established the earth and it stands or falls according to His rule. He is the Sovereign and in control over the direction of our personal lives. It is through obeying His precepts that born-again Kingdom dwellers are given abundant life (Romans 7:14).
When Pharaoh refused to free the Hebrew slaves, it was the staff of Moshe that God used to show His sovereign power over the gods of Egypt. Every time Pharaoh ‘kicked against the goad,’ his nation suffered. When wicked people hope to destroy us, we need hold onto God’s mitzvot because the His ways are wise and sharp as a cattle goad. There are limits to creating a perfect earth, but the commandments of the Sovereign God are eternal and fixed in heaven, and His faithfulness remains through every generation.
“Even if I pass through death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me; your rod and staff reassure me” (Psalm 23:4).
“The sayings of the wise are as sharp as goads, and those given by leaders of assemblies are like well-fixed nails; [in this case,] they are presented by a single shepherd” (Ecclesiastes 12:11).
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