Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 58/260: Shamgar

Read Judges 3:31; 5:6

A Simple, Yet Effective Tool

We know less about Shamgar than any of the other judges who delivered Israel from oppressors. There are many theories about this man, his background, and his role in the book of Judges. Was he even an Israelite? Was he an ally or did he start out as an enemy? Why is there so little recorded?

Inspiration tells us that he was “the son of Anath,” he “killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad,” and “he also delivered Israel” (Judges 3:31). Later, in the song of Deborah, it is revealed that during his rule, “The highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways” (Judges 5:6). That’s it. The name Shamgar appears nowhere else in the Biblical record.

What can we learn from Shamgar and this brief account of his life? First, God used him, and God can use us. No matter who we are or where we came from, God can use us. Search the Scriptures, learn His will, and look for opportunities to please the Father.

Second, Shamgar used what he had: an ox goad. This tool was a long pole, sometimes up to ten feet long, used to prod the livestock along, with a spike on one end and a knife on the other. Coffman writes, “The knife was used to clean the plowshares, and the spike was for the purpose of urging the oxen to greater efforts or for controlling their movements.” With this simple tool, Shamgar slaughtered six hundred Philistines.

We still have a simple tool to defeat the foes of God: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). We need to be trained to use it properly, and we need to practice wielding it often, but it is a simple yet effective tool to eradicate sin and error.

With the ox goad, Shamgar “delivered Israel.” With the Word of God, we can deliver those who are closest to us from the bondage of sin. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:21-22). May we ever use the Spirit’s sword in our battles against Satan and his allies.

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