Shamgar

But for Deborah, Shamgar would have literally been a one-verse-wonder. And a mighty wonder he is. In his first appearance in the Book of Judges he is squeezed in between Ehud and Deborah herself. Judges 3:31 tells us: “After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel.” Later, after Deborah, Barak and Jael had dealt to Sisera and the Canaanite army, Deborah dedicated a line of her victory song to Shamgar: Judges 5:6—“In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, In the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, And travellers went by roundabout ways.” Deborah’s lyrics paints a bleak picture of Shamgar’s Israel. The Philistine highwaymen were killing the country—they had to be extricated. Shamgar rose to the challenge. Just as Samson slew a thousand Philistines with a jawbone of an ass (Judges 15:15), Shamgar slew his six hundred with an oxgoad. Foreign raiding parties often made farming a waste of time in Israel. Also, the Philistines didn’t always allow Israel to have weapons. If it was while ploughing that he met 600 Philistine marauders, all is explained. Shamgar could only use what he had at hand: Distain for Israel’s foreign invaders, anger over certain poverty through the thievery of these bandits, and an oxgoad to mete out his fury on God’s enemies. Thus, Shamgar took his place as one who “also saved Israel.” All that God expects of us is to use that which is at hand. Shamgar was faithful, powerful, bold and armed. We probably won’t meet a physical army, but there is an evil spiritual one constantly attacking us. Every Christian is to take up his shield of faith, empowered by God, emboldened by Christ’s will and armed with the sword of the Spirit. How else can we keep the devil and his demons from blocking the way to the Narrow Road? How else will we stop Satan from staving the world of the Bread of Life?

johnstaiger1@gmail.com

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