I recently pulled a muscle in my neck. Doesn’t sound too bad, although with a stiff neck you soon realize your neck is responsible for you being able to see properly, move properly, and interact with people and the tasks of life. An immovable neck makes for a challenging day.
The Bible actually talks about having a stiff neck! It is used figuratively in both the Old and New Testament, the word, ‘stiff-necked’ means ‘stubborn’, ‘not to be led’. This would have been a family idea to the Jews. You see, ox was the most useful and common animal. It was used for agricultural purposes (Judges 14:18, 1 Corinthians 9:9).
A ploughman would guide his ox with a pole upon the neck. He would use the pole to keep the ox straight, preventing it from deviating. If an ox was hard to control or stubborn it was ‘hard of neck’. Hence, the figure of speech is used in scripture to describe the stubborn heart of people toward the guidance of God (Exodus 32:9, 33:3, Deuteronomy 9:6, 2 Chronicles 36:13, Jeremiah 17:23).
In the Old Testament, Pharaoh was famously stubborn (Exodus 7:13-14), but his stiffened-neck did him and his nation no good. Stubbornness was also displayed by the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, who rebelled against God over and over, turning away from his love and protection.
The enemy will use a ‘stiff-neck’ or pride to hold you back. It is simply the decision to go your own way. Humility is what will keep you fruitful in life. Pride is saying ‘my way is better than God’s way’ – what a scary position to be in.
Just as I experienced a lack of full function and perspective in my physically stiffened neck, so also in the spiritual, pride and stubbornness will limit your perspective and mobility.
What keeps you agile, growing, healthy and free, is a soft and tender heart. A soft heart is sensitive to the voice and ‘guiding pole’ of the Lord.
Be aware of areas where you may have ‘stiffened’ your approach to God. Humble yourself toward his voice and ways for your life. Be easily led by His voice.
A daily devotion for a better way of living.