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  • Writer's pictureTrey Harper

Lead, Like Shamgar

“After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.” (Judges 3.31)

Shamgar is listed among the judges of Israel. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17.6, 21.25). The Judges were raised up by God to “[save] them out of the hand of those who plundered them” (Judges 2.16). So, this is what was done- Shamgar saved Israel. I’m sure his mother would be pleased with her son.

Another peculiar thing we read is that the weapon of choice was an oxgoad. In its most rudimentary form, this would be a sharpened stick. However, this could also have been an eight-foot rod that was divided at the end. Like a great big hot-dog (marshmallow) cooking device, but one that is sturdy enough to teach a bull a lesson. Ancient peoples often used implements from around the farm as weapons of war whenever swords and spears were unavailable to them (1 Samuel 13.21). So, with a big ‘ol pointy stick, Shamgar saved Israel from plunderers by killing 600 of the bad guys.

Six hundred?! Wow, this guy must have been rugged. I wouldn’t want to be a bull on his ranch! While this is only one verse, and one that reads quickly, the context of the book of Judges would indicate that Shamgar may have had help. Consider, in the next event chronicled, Deborah is the judge who is credited with saving Israel since she enlisted 10,000 men to be lead in battle by Barak. While we do not explicitly read that Shamgar lead a rebellion, there is no reason to think he killed so many men on his own. With, or without assistance, Shamgar saved Israel. Deborah mentions Shamgar in her song (Judges 5) which begins, “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the LORD!”

So, be a Shamgar. There is plenty of righteousness that needs to win-out over evil in this world. Pick up the weapon provided, the Word of God, and deliver people from the adversary. Lead people to victory! Later in the song, it is sung, “My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the LORD.”


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