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The Purpose of Truth

Ecclesiastes 12:11 (ESV) … “The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.”

The words ‘goads’ and ‘well-driven nails’ serve a two-fold purpose in describing the intent of the Preacher. The goads were sharp pointed sticks used to drive an animal in the direction required by its keeper. The purpose of the Book of Ecclesiastes is not to drive us to despair, but to shepherd us into the presence of God. The Preacher’s conclusion opens our eyes to the barrenness of our landscape and directs us to the lush pastures of God’s Kingdom. Like Saul of Tarsus we may ‘kick against the goads’ but are grateful for the temporal pain when we find ourselves securely in the fold of God (Acts 9:5).

The aim of the Preacher is to nail or screw the truth into our minds—to secure it firmly in our memory and understanding. The Psalmist says, ‘Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you’ (Ps. 119:11). We can also picture the shepherd driving in his tent pegs, making his sheepfold secure.

The truth is not simply the conclusions of a wise man—for it is ‘given by one Shepherd’. Every thought, action or event recorded in the Bible is there by the express purpose of God. The Preacher’s dissertation is no exception. ‘Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:21).[1]

[1] Winter, J. (2005). Opening up Ecclesiastes (pp. 153–154). Day One Publications.


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