This Bible study will examine the Judge Shamgar. Little is known about him but powerful lessons can be learned when we realize that even as ordinary people, through God we can do extraordinary things.
[Steve Myers] Okay. Well, good evening, everyone. Welcome to our bi-weekly Bible Study. We’re glad you’re here. We’re continuing tonight our series in “The Judges.” So we’re glad you’re with us here in the room, and those of you who are with us on the web as well. Before we get started, let’s ask God’s blessing on our study, and we certainly want His presence and blessings. So let’s all bow our heads.
Loving heavenly Father, God Almighty, we thank You so much, Father, for Your love and Your mercy and Your truth. We thank You, God, that You’ve given us Your Word that we can open Your Word and discover Your mind and the things that You have in store for us, and we are so thankful for that, Father. We pray for your presence here at the Bible study tonight, that as we look into Your Word You would help us and guide us, that we may gain insight into our own lives, that we may grow more like You and like Jesus Christ, and we are so thankful for that. And Father, we certainly pray for those who are unable to be here tonight, those who are sick and those who are hurting. We especially remember Chloe Aschenbrenner tonight and the difficulties that she’s going through, and we just pray for that little girl that You would bless her and intervene and certainly bless the family as well as they are going through this difficult trial. So, Father, we remember not only her, but others who are suffering as well. And so, Father, comfort them and encourage them and may Your healing power be upon them as well. So, Father, we thank You for this study, we put it into Your hands and ask Your presence and blessing and pray it all by the authority of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Well, tonight as I said, we’re continuing our series in the Judges. And when you think of important, great Judges of Israel, what names come to mind? Maybe Gideon, Deborah, there we go. They’re calling out names here in the room. Deborah, maybe Samson, or maybe even Samuel. Some of the other we might say big names. Perhaps a name that didn’t come to mind is a name that, well, might be a little bit more obscure, maybe one that doesn’t come to mind, because, you know, the Bible is actually filled with so many stories about… Well, what would you call them? The little guys? The obscure people? The ones that aren’t so recognizable? Those are the ones that maybe show up in the Bible for a couple of passages, come out of nowhere it seems, and then they do their thing and disappear into the shadows once again.
And yet, coming out of the shadows, they’re there for however long it might be, and then they do tremendous things, amazing things. And that’s kind of the story of the Judge we’re going to discuss tonight. Yes, he’s not a Deborah or a Gideon or a Samson, his name is Shamgar. Shamgar, probably not the name that came to mind when you think of a judge of Israel. Shamgar, sounds like maybe a Viking or something like that, doesn’t it? But no, he is one who is mentioned, who delivered Israel. And if we put ourselves back in that time period, we have to remember what was happening during the time of the Judges. Israel had left Egypt, they had gone through the Red Sea, they had wandered through the wilderness for 40 years, came into the Promised Land, Joshua led them, and then there was a time period between Joshua all the way up to King Saul that Israel was ruled, I guess you could say, by Judges. There’s about 400 plus years or so during this time period from Joshua all the way to King Saul that the judges were, I guess you could say, the name of the game of the time.
And the judges were an interesting lot because Israel had problems obeying God. And like most of the history of Israel, when there was a strong leader, they followed and they obeyed. But after that, they seemed to get back into trouble all over again. In fact, if you follow the story of the judges, they’d even given it a name for this pattern that Israel went through during this time. They call it “The Judges Cycle.” The Judges Cycle, because there would be a time of peace, and everything would be fine. But then what would happen during a time of peace? Well, people began to take things for granted. They began to ignore God, and they would fall into idolatry. Their behavior would go downhill and the whole country was covered with evil. And that’s what the next step in that cycle would be.
So they move from peace to idolatry and evil behavior. Of course, what’s the result and consequence from evil? Well, there are consequences. That kind of behavior has consequences. And so, there would be consequences to that. So when you read through the whole book of the Judges, you’ll find this pattern comes. There are consequences for evil behavior, and there would be punishment because of that. And so, because of their behavior, it led to punishment. God would allow punishment or bring punishment upon His people hoping that they would change. And then, of course, the next step in the cycle then, when the people were being oppressed by others, when there were difficulties in the land, what do you think the people did?
Yeah, that would be the time they would cry out to God. Things are so terrible now, we recognize we’re in trouble and we need help. So they would cry out to God. They would want deliverance, almost, maybe you could kind of think of it as a kind of repentance, not a spiritual repentance necessarily, but they would turn to God. They would recognize they’re in trouble. What do you think God did? God heard them. God heard them and He would send a solution. He’d send a deliverer. And so, that would be one of the judges that God would send. And what would that judge do? That takes us to, kind of, the next step in that Judges Cycle. Well, once God hears their plea, He sends that deliverer and there would be relief. The judge, the deliverer would come oftentimes battle, they would defeat the oppressors, and they would deliver Israel from the trial and the difficulties.
And then, of course, that brings us full circle all around. Once the deliverer came, they delivered them from the enemy, now peace. Now we had peace once again. And after a while, sometimes the peace would last up to 40 years or so. But then Israel would also then become lackadaisical, fall back into that pattern, they begin to ignore God, and then the whole cycle would repeat again. And so, those seven steps are often known as the Judges Cycle. Sometimes they shorten it up a little bit, and they use all S-words. If you say it a little differently, you have to begin with, all right, they fall into problems, and those problems are sin. And sin then led to their slavery or their servitude. That would be the second step in the s-cycle, I guess you could say.
Then what would they do? They would cry out to God. There would be supplication. And God would then hear them, send them the answer and bring salvation. So sometimes they say that cycle in that pattern, instead of being seven steps, they narrow it down to four with sin, servitude, supplication, and ultimately salvation. And if you were to read through the entire book of the Judges, there is a constant theme that rings through, that when you follow God, and you obey, there are blessings. When you ignore God and you disobey, it brings curses.
And so, one of the key phrases throughout the book of the Judges is this idea where people have turned away from God. And so oftentimes we’ll talk about that in many different passages, that the people did what they wanted to. Like to use as the phrase, they did what was right in their own eyes. They did what was right in their own eyes, and, boy, that’s the story here. We know what the result of doing things that you think are right while you ignore God and His direction and His guidance.
And so, that’s the story of the Judges. You know, when you think of the big picture of what’s happening. Because during this time, this was supposed to be a wonderful time in Israel. They were free from Pharaoh, they had come into the Promised Land. It was supposed to be this land flowing with milk and honey. It was supposed to be a time of advancement. And yet, what happened time, after time, after time, after time, they began to ignore God, they were oppressed, and then fell into that same pattern over, and over, and over again. In fact, we see an example of this, if you’ll turn with me over to Judges 5:6 Judges 5:6In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways.
American King James Version×. We’ll pick up the story of, I guess you could say, minor judge or a minor character tonight one that often doesn’t come to mind when you think of the judges, but Judges 5:6 Judges 5:6In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways.
American King James Version×.
Here’s one of the passages that mention the judge Shamgar. And here’s what it says, “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways.” And so in this one little sentence, we have a little bit of information about this judge Shamgar. Now it’s interesting, here this is in Judges 5. Judges 5 is the song of Deborah, and they’re singing about the great victory that Deborah and Barak brought to Israel, and yet, they look back to a time when Shamgar was the judge that was called by God to deliver Israel.
And we get a little bit of information about what it was like during this time of Shamgar. It says, all right. What’s going on? They were oppressed. So they had fallen that far into that step of the cycle that the peace was long gone, now, they deserted God and were being oppressed. In this case during the times of Shamgar, being oppressed by the Philistines. And the Philistines had oppressed them into a state of depression, intimidation, they were fearful, they were weak.
And as a result, it says the highways were deserted. Now, why would the highways be deserted? Aren’t you supposed to travel along the highways? That’s where you get where you want to go. But instead, they’re taking the long way. It says going the byways. They’re not on the main road, they’re taking the path instead. So why would they be doing that? Why would it give us that little bit of information about the days of Shamgar traveling along the byways? Avoiding the highways, the main road. It was because of the Philistines. It wasn’t safe to go on the road. You go on the road, they’re going to kill you, they’re going to rob you. The oppression was everywhere, and those main roads had to be avoided, had to be avoided.
And so, they went on the byways. And during this time, it, kind of, gives us just a little bit of a glimpse how desperate these times really were that you can’t even go on the street. If you go on the street you’re going to be in trouble. So you’re going to have to hide and go on the byways in the woods, and go the long way around in order to be safe. And so, when we begin to see the story of that time, pretty desperate circumstances. And during those desperate circumstances, God calls one man, this Shamgar to make the difference. Just one man. And, in fact, it’s interesting. This one man… Well, you know how many times he’s mentioned in Scripture? One man, his name is mentioned two times, only in two passages. It’s only in two passages in the whole Bible.
So tonight we’re taking the challenge in seeing what we can find out about Shamgar and his experience and what God did through him. And so being only mentioned in two verses, it really gives us more information than you might think about the times, about what God is doing and how He works through people. How He works through us as well. So if you’re in Judges 5, turn back a page or so, to Judges 3. Judges 3:31 Judges 3:31And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
American King James Version×is the other passage. It’s the other passage where we can find out a little more information about this judge Shamgar. Judges 3:31 Judges 3:31And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
American King James Version×, Judges 3:31 Judges 3:31And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
American King James Version×. We know times were tough, they’re oppressed by the Philistines, you can’t even go on the highways, they’re deserted. Also, we find Judges 3:31 Judges 3:31And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
American King James Version×, “Shamgar the son of Anath, killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel.”
Okay. That’s it. We’ve read everything there is to know about Shamgar. But think about that for a minute. Shamgar, if you were to look that word up in the Hebrew, it means sword. It means sword. Shamgar became a sword in the hand of God. So I think his name definitely has a connection there. Some of the scholars think it might even have a connection to being a cupbearer, to being a cupbearer, and, of course, in this case, this cupbearer was one that brought God’s wrath, poured out God’s wrath on those who oppose Him. And so, whichever way you look at it, Shamgar certainly fulfilled God’s calling as the sword or the cupbearer of God. It’s also interesting to think about it. Who is this guy anyway? Is he somebody we’d say is a mighty man of God? Well, definitely not initially. Who is he? He’s just an ordinary guy. He’s a farmer. He’s a farmer. We can glean that little bit of information recognizing how he’s equipped.
You know, what was his weapon of warfare? And it wasn’t a sword. Even though he’s a sword in the hand of God, his weapon wasn’t a sword. It wasn’t a spear. It was an ox goad. So here God calls an ordinary man to do extraordinary things with something that’s not even a weapon. That’s not even a weapon. Are you kidding me? He’s got a piece of farm implement, we could say, right? That’s what he’s got. He’s got an agricultural tool and that’s all we’re told about it.
So what in the world is an ox goad anyway? Well, it’s something you’re supposed to prod cattle with. It’s this stick that’s probably longer than my arm span here, probably about eight foot long. If you’ve ever painted a room with, you know, a paint stick, yeah, something more like that. It’s not some gigantic weapon or anything like that, it’s just a big, long, stick. And on one end, there was an iron poker, I guess you could say. Just a spike. And on the other end, there was like a spade, just like a little piece of metal.
And on the one end, you could use it, and, well, sometimes the cattle didn’t respond to pulling on the reins or calling out commands to them. But, you know, you take that little spike and you poke them, it gets through that thick hide of the cattle and they’ll move where you want them to move. So that’s what this thing is. You’ve got to move those cattle, and they’d use this poker, this ox goad to goad the cattle, to push the cattle where they need it to be because they’re definitely going to move to that sharp point on that ox goad.
And then, of course, the other end, what are they doing with the cattle? Of course, at the time, they’d be plowing with these cattle. And they could poke them and get them going where they needed to go. Then on the other side of that stick, you know, when the plow would get bogged down, or the clay would get stuck on the plow itself, they could use the other end to clean it off, to get the junk off of the plow so that they could keep going. And so, that spade side, that other side could help clean up the plow.
You think about the time of Shamgar, it was a time that evidently there wasn’t a lot of military weapons in ancient Israel at the time. Back in Judges 5, if we read a little bit further, it even said that something like even in 40,000 men there were no weapons. There were none. There were none. And so this was a desperate time that took desperate measures. So as you think about Shamgar and God using him as a tool, what does that tell us? Is there anything that we can glean from this story that can help us to learn lessons today, you know, that would help guide us in what God’s called us to do? Because God certainly called Shamgar to do something amazing.
And I think, to begin with, what we find is Shamgar was just one guy. We don’t hear anything else about other people jumping in the fray, taking on the Philistines, or doing anything. We don’t know. But from what we’re told, he’s one, one guy. So the question for us is, can we be the one? Can we be one person, one individual that stands up for God’s way? Because he was not an important man. Today we’d say, “He’s a peasant. He’s a poor farmer. And yet this poor farmer, ordinary guy, really no-name individual, no rank, no position, nothing like that, he took on the Philistines with an ox goad, with a farming tool.
And so, he took them on because God called him, first of all, but his life was at risk. He couldn’t go on the roads. His property was at risk. The lives and the property of his family, his clan, all of that was on the edge of all being lost. His countrymen as well, they were all at the mercy of the Philistines, and that was unacceptable to God. And by God’s calling, he was going to do something about it. Just one guy. He was going to do something… and you think he could have had an excuse? He could have. He could have said, “God, I’m busy plowing. Got my goad, I’m poking cattle here, you know. I got too much to do. I’m worried about myself here. I can’t worry about Philistines. I can’t worry about the country. I can’t worry about others. I got my own problems.”
So he certainly could have used excuses, but I think if we’re going to be the one if God’s called us to serve it doesn’t matter where we are, who we are, where we think our status might be. You know, I think for like Shamgar God called him and wanted to use him, and he could have used an excuse. Even some of the greats of the Bible had excuses, didn’t they? Remember Moses? What did Moses say when God said, “Hey, I need you to go to Egypt.” He didn’t just jump right in there. According to the Bible he says, “Well, who am I that I should go?” Well, maybe if we take a little license is like, “God, are you sure you know what you’re doing?” “Who am I?” Moses says. And he wasn’t the only one.
How about Isaiah? You know, God said, “Isaiah, I’d like to use you.” And Isaiah said, “God, I don’t know if I can.” You know, I’m a man of unclean lips. Not sure you want to do that.” But you look at the story of Shamgar, he wasn’t like Abraham or Sarah. Yeah, those are big names in the Bible. What did they do when God said, “I’m going to produce an heir for you.” They both laughed, they laughed. But we look at the story of Shamgar with just a little bit of information. We don’t find excuses. God didn’t accept excuses then, whether it was from Abraham or Sarah, or Moses, or Isaiah. He doesn’t accept excuses now.
You think about the part that we are called to play in the family of God, in His Church, in our calling. We need to be like a Shamgar. He could have had an excuse, “I’m farming.” But he didn’t use that excuse and he determined to serve God. And so we’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to be ready no matter what our circumstances, no matter how busy we are, no matter how distracted we are, no matter how many challenges or trials that we’re facing in our life because I’m sure he had them. But with God’s calling, he had to say, “God’s most important. What God has in mind is most important.”
And so, rather than wait for the army. “Well, the army will save us.” He didn’t do that. He didn’t wait for a group. He didn’t wait for a committee. He got out there with his ox-goad and did the work of God. Which is a great reminder for us. We need to look to God and get to work. We need to get to work as well. Yeah, we’re ordinary people. We’re a bunch of Shamgars, aren’t we? And yet, God can do great things. You know, there is… I mean, what thing is too little when we do things to serve God and to serve His people? I mean, is there anything too little? Writing a note to someone to encourage them? Tell them that you’re praying for them? Is that just too little? It doesn’t matter?
You see I think that’s where sometimes we see things a little skewed, that those are, yeah, they’re maybe ordinary service, but those are great acts that they can be criticized. And the things that we can do when we do His will without complaining, we’re following this example, that without excuse, without complaint, he moved at the will of God, and he kept the faith. And he did, I guess you could say, ultimately keep the peace. And what a powerful impact it had on everyone around him, everyone around him. He didn’t give in to fear, didn’t give in to doubts, he didn’t wait for better circumstances, just got to work. He got to work and accomplished what God wanted. He took a stand for God, he took a stand for God’s way.
I think we’re faced with a similar situation today. We’re surrounded by Philistines, aren’t we? We are. Well, are we going to stand up for God’s way or we’re going to give into it? You see, we’re in this similar situation. Every one of us can be the one. We can be one. May not be able to do everything, but we can do something. We can do something, and that something can be a tremendous spiritual act even though it may not look like much to the world. Really, that’s what it is.
And so, God’s called every one of us to serve and to give, and to do what we can do. In fact, there’s a great quote, it’s sometimes attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, after doing a little bit of research, evidently, he didn’t say it, sometimes he gets credit for it, there’s a quote from Squire Bill Widener, probably never heard of him. But you’ve heard of Teddy Roosevelt. This is what they both said, “Do what you can with what you’ve got where you are.” “Do what you can with what you’ve got where you are.” And in a way, that’s Shamgar’s goad story, isn’t it?
Yeah, “Do what you can with what you’ve got where you are,” because we move from the fact that God has called every one of us to serve Him, to be a tool in His hands to the fact that, we need to use what we’ve got. You’ve got to use what you’ve got. What do you have? Shamgar, sword, didn’t have a sword. He had a poker. That’s what he had to use. He used this humble little farming tool to battle the Philistines. He didn’t have all the accouterments of the military on his side, didn’t have any… Well, can God use unlikely instruments in His service? Absolutely. Absolutely. God can be served with unlikely instruments. That’s kind of like the credit card commercial, you know, “What’s in your wallet?” What’s in your hand? You know, what do we have? An ox goad? We have something else. I mean, think about some of the examples in the Bible of what people had. How was it that the Red Sea parted? Okay, God did it, no doubt, but what was Moses doing? He had a staff, a shepherd’s tool, a shepherd’s tool. That’s all that was. Yeah, it was by the power of God, no doubt. But you translate that then to our circumstances. Do I have to be a wiz, a genius? Do I have to be brilliant? Do I have to have the gift of speech, of great, you know, vocabulary in order to be used by God?
You know, I think what we see in Shamgar’s example, what can we do when we submit ourselves to the hand of God? I mean, he did amazing things, absolutely tremendous things. And we think about our calling. There’s that familiar passage if you like to turn with me over to 1 Corinthians 1:27 1 Corinthians 1:27But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
American King James Version×. Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 1:27 1 Corinthians 1:27But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
American King James Version×. Maybe Shamgar was in this position like we are today. 1 Corinthians 1:27 1 Corinthians 1:27But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
American King James Version×says, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise,” yeah, he used a farmer with an ox goad to confound the Philistines. Yeah, the world looks at us like we’re crazy like we’re foolish, but ultimately, as it goes on, “God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”
And that’s our calling. God’s called us to fulfill this very purpose so that even though we don’t have all the greatest talents and abilities in the world, still no excuses, still do with what you’ve got. What has God given you? Over just a couple of pages in 1 Corinthians 12:20 1 Corinthians 12:20But now are they many members, yet but one body.
American King James Version×, we’re reminded about our calling and being a part of the Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:20 1 Corinthians 12:20But now are they many members, yet but one body.
American King James Version×it says, “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.’” You see, as members of the Body of Christ, we all have a part to play. With what we’ve been given, God expects us to use what we’ve got, and what He’s been giving us. And in a sense, we could take this ox goad of Shamgar and maybe prod ourselves, push ourselves a little bit, because, okay, maybe I can just do a little. But what about those little things? You know, if we’re faithful in little, what does the Bible tell us? But we need to be faithful in little.
There is a need for the little things that we can do. We recognize that in the Church. The apostle Paul wrote emphasis about that very fact. Look at Ephesians 4:16 Ephesians 4:16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
American King James Version×. Ephesians 4:16 Ephesians 4:16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
American King James Version×. This section of Scripture is used by the United Church of God for its vision statement. Because this is where we envision the Church. This is where we need to be. We are the Body of Christ as 1 Corinthians 1 talked about. 1 Corinthians 12 the same. It reminds us of that very fact. And every single one of us can use what God’s given us no matter how little that is. So here we see in Ephesians 4:16 Ephesians 4:16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
American King James Version×, it says, “…the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies,” every one of us have a part to play. It doesn’t matter if we are a Gideon, or a Samson, or a Deborah, or a Shamgar. It doesn’t matter. Every one of us has something to supply.
It says “…according to the effective working by which every part does its share,” every part. And what happens as a result? It “causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” And so, there is no unnecessary part of the Body, no unnecessary member. We can’t use the excuse, “Well, I don’t have much to give. I don’t have…” Well, what did Shamgar have? He had a poker. What do we got? What do we have? You know, we can look, “Well, what do I need? How can I serve? How can I give? How can I help?” Those are great questions we could prod ourselves with. “What do I need to overcome?” Those kinds of questions, I think, especially when you consider Shamgar, it may not be as much as you think. I mean, he used a tool to accomplish really unbelievable things. So in order to serve, do I really need that much? In order to help? In order to give?
I’m not sure if you need as much as you might think sometimes. And so, God reminds us, every one of us, every part of the Body is absolutely vital. In fact, if we don’t do our part as small as that may be, as we might think, “Well, this is inconsequential.” No, it’s not. It’s not at all, because he’s telling us here if we don’t do our part, the Body’s not going to be joined. The Body is not going to be knit together. The Body is not going to accomplish what needs to be accomplished for God. The Body is not going to be edified, even if one individual neglects their part. That’s how important even the smallest, little things are.
And so, we can effectively do even the little things. And those little things have tremendous spiritual consequences. And so, he’s telling us here, “Use what you’ve got.” And God tells us every one of us have got something, some gift, some abilities, some talent, that we can do something. We can do something. So he says, “Use what you’ve got.” And, of course, in the story of Shamgar, it doesn’t stop there, because he had this ox goad, but he had to do what he could do. And so, like that quote that Teddy Roosevelt used, “Do what you can do.” That’s such an important lesson because when you read through the story of Shamgar, some of the scholars will argue back and forth, he killed 600 Philistines. Well, what was that? Was that like one battle he did this?
Well, it seems that way. Others are, “No, that couldn’t possibly be the case. It must have been a series of battles and skirmishes along the way.” I mean, we’re not told exactly, and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether you did it a one time or not. All that matters is that he did what he could. He did what he could, and so, he could do something. He could do something and that’s a great lesson for us. I can’t do everything, but I definitely can do something.
I’m sure as a farmer he was probably in pretty good condition. Right? He was probably a pretty good physical specimen as most farmers usually are. But it wasn’t the physical that saw him through, right? It was the spiritual. You can’t go around killing 600 Philistines without some spiritual power, right? He had God on his side. God empowered him for the task at hand. And so, no doubt God’s Spirit enabled him to stand and to fight to deliver the people. And so, he stood his ground, and he absolutely challenged the Philistines while others, I mean, we’re not told, but I wouldn’t doubt that others ran away. Others ran away and neglected the fight. And so when you consider this, are there things that are worth fighting for?
I mean, for us we’re not talking about a physical fight, but you think about it as it relates to us. He’s fighting for his home. He’s fighting for his family. He’s fighting for his freedom. He’s fighting for his land. He’s fighting for God’s deliverance. And this fighter, who was really a farmer, really a peasant, was used by God in a mighty way. Now, you put a spiritual spin on that for us, it’s really not any different, because haven’t we been called to a spiritual battle? I mean, we’ve been called to fight. We’ve been called to fight. We are engaged in spiritual warfare. And while it might not be the Philistines, we’re in a battle against spiritual wickedness in high places. That’s what Ephesians tells us. You read through Ephesians 6, we’re battling Satan and his demons, and demonic influences in this world.
We have that battle. And they want to, like the Philistines, they want to oppress us. And so, we are at war. We’re at war with the ways of this world and high powers that would love to trip us up, would love to do us in, would love to invade our thinking and throw us off track and keep us on the byways rather than the straight path toward the Kingdom of God. And so, as you consider that, they want to take everything that’s important away from us. And so, we can’t allow that. And so, we’ve got to guard our thinking and take on the fight.
And the apostle Paul told Timothy that very same thing. If you turn over the 2 Timothy 2. Notice verse 4. 2 Timothy 2:4 2 Timothy 2:4No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
American King James Version×. Here it describes this spiritual struggle that we’re in. And so, we are like a Shamgar in that sense. Paul told Timothy we’ve got to look at the focus that we have and do what we can. And, of course, with God’s help, what can we do? How much can we do? Paul told Timothy, 2 Timothy 2:4 2 Timothy 2:4No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
American King James Version×, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”
And so, you think about that in comparison to this Shamgar. No matter how weak you may think you are, no matter how useless you think your weapons may be, put them in the hand of God. What do you got? You have powerful weapons as we can watch God accomplish great things, and whether it’s an ox goad, or whether it’s Moses’ staff or whether it’s David’s sling, whether it’s about Dorcas, what about Gazelle, her needle, and thread? Or how about the widow’s mite? How about a couple of loaves and fishes? You know, you begin to think about it in those terms, God can certainly use us in a powerful way to win this spiritual battle that we’ve been called to.
We can stand, we may not think we’re brave. We may not think we’re courageous. I’m sure Shamgar probably didn’t think he was. He thought, “I’m a former. I’m plowing, doing my job.” But he could stand against the Philistines and we too can stand against ungodliness. We won’t allow that way of thinking in our life. We will stand, we’ll be constant, we’ll be true to God’s principles, to His calling. We’ll refuse to waiver in our convictions because we are going to stand strong. We’re not going to be timid, we’re not going to avoid the call. We’re not going to be hesitant, because with God on our side, we can be courageous. We can stand against Satan and the powers of evil, and we can thwart his plans, and accomplish great things. And those great things that we can do, bring God honor, because He, I mean, ultimately Shamgar gets two verses in the Bible? But who ultimately gets the credit? And then God gets the glory. It’s God who did everything. He did the doing, but He did it through this instrument of Shamgar.
He can do the same for us. We can accomplish great things spiritually speaking and God gets the glory. And so, God tells us, “Hey, you guys are like Shamgar. Do what you can. Do what you can. And of course, I think, when you consider his story, what can a farmer do all by himself? Well, by himself? Not much, not much. May be a reminiscent of Luke 14 a little bit, where Luke 14 talks about, you know, building a high tower. You know, if you’re going to build a high tower, you better consider the cost. Do you have enough to finish? You’re going to go to war, get someone with 20,000 men and you’ve got 10,000? You better count the cost.
And so, we’ve got to count the cost. We’ve got to be ready to take it on. But think about that for a minute. Can you build a spiritual tower by yourself? No. Can you take on a spiritual army of 20,000 demonic forces by yourself? No way. You better count the cost and recognize I can do something, but God’s got to do the rest. God’s got to do the rest. And that’s what Shamgar had to have done. Yes, he could do something, but he had to depend on God to do the rest. And that’s really no different than us because his story teaches us about the power of God, doesn’t it? It tells us about God’s power and His authority because Shamgar put it in God’s hands. Yeah, he put his life on the line. Yeah, it was a challenge, no doubt, but he didn’t waiver, and he had faith in God. He trusted God with his life.
And if you had a gigantic horde of Philistines after you, it probably wouldn’t look too promising. You know what’s one guy in the scheme of 600 coming against you? Well, it’s pretty bad odds. It’s like the 20,000 in Luke 14 coming against your 10,000. Even if we go one on one, I’m lost. There’s no way I’m going to win. There’s no way I’m going to win. But, you know, live or die, he was going to stand for God. He was going to answer that call, and he was going to do what was right. Because, if you look all the way back to Judges 3, again… Let’s flip back to Judges 3 one more time. Judges 3:31 Judges 3:31And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
American King James Version×reminds us of something critical here. Judges 3 and if you look at this, this is the first mention. The other one is in chapter five. But Judges 3:31 Judges 3:31And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
American King James Version×talking about Shamgar, of course it says “Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; he also delivered Israel.” He delivered Israel.
And so, in that Judges Cycle of disobedience toward God, they cry out to God. God sends someone to deliver… he delivered them. He was the deliverer, and in a sense, representative of Jesus Christ being our deliverer. Shamgar didn’t do this on his own. Yes, it says he delivered Israel, but it wasn’t him. He couldn’t have taken on 600 Philistines by himself without the power of God. So God delivered Israel through Shamgar, through Shamgar. The Father delivers us by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And so, when we look at what he did, he accomplished great things, because he submitted himself to God and looked to God for the ultimate victory. That’s what he saw. That’s what he did. And so, when you consider this, he recognized… it wasn’t the ox goad that delivered Israel, was it? Not at all. Not at all. Okay, God used them, but ultimately, whose victory was it?
Samuel reminds us of that. Look at 1 Samuel 17:47 1 Samuel 17:47And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands.
American King James Version×. 1 Samuel 17:47 1 Samuel 17:47And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands.
American King James Version×is a great reminder, you know, where does our victory come from? Who really is the one who’s fighting? Here in 1 Samuel 17, he reminds Israel, he reminds us as well what the real circumstances are. Notice 1 Samuel 17:47 1 Samuel 17:47And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands.
American King James Version×. Kind of jumping in the middle of a thought, but it makes the point here. It says, “Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear;” Maybe for tonight purposes, we could say with ox goad either. Right? God doesn’t say with sword spear, ox goad, fill in the blank, He doesn’t do it. How does he do it? It says, “the battle is the Lord’s… the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
And so, as we recognize what’s going on here, yeah, whose battle is it? Yeah, it’s recorded for us, it’s God’s battle. Is He going to give us the victory? Yeah, He says, absolutely, absolutely, undoubtedly He will. And so, we’ve got to do what we can do with what we have and be that one that stands up, but recognize God has to do the rest. God has to do the rest. The real battle is His. And through Him, what can I do through Christ? Philippians reminds us I can do all things. But I recognize this fact with God all things are possible. It is, Matthew 19:26 Matthew 19:26But Jesus beheld them, and said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
American King James Version×reminds us of that, doesn’t it? Yes, absolutely, no doubt. In fact, there’s an interesting, kind of, summary of that same way of thinking at the beginning of the book of Luke.
You want to turn to Luke 1, it’s a pretty long chapter. It’s dealing with the birth of John the Baptist. Part of the story in Luke 1, if you just go all the way down to verse 70. Luke 1:70 Luke 1:70As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
American King James Version×is such a great reminder. Luke 1:70 Luke 1:70As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
American King James Version×, we’re jumping into the middle of a thought from Zacharias. Zacharias, of course, being John the Baptist’s father, and here he is speaking through the power of God. It says, “By the Holy Spirit” in verse 67. And he begins to rehearse the story, that ultimately the story of God and how He works with people. And as you get down to verse 70, notice what he says. It says, “As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham: to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.”
And so, like Shamgar, we have a calling. We have a calling to face the enemy, to overcome. And ultimately, we have to count on God to do what we can’t do. He’s got to do the rest. Yes, we may have an ox goad in our hand and we better use it, do what we can do with what we have, and then rely on God and trust Him because He promises us He’s going to deliver us. He’s going to deliver us just like He did throughout time, throughout history, that He will grant us like it says in verse 74, that we will be delivered from the hand of our enemies because that’s the cycle. God will do, we call out to Him, we submit our lives into His hand, and He’s going to deliver us. And then what we better be doing? What does it say? It says, “Yeah, we’ve got a job to do.” He delivers us, and then it says in verse 74, we better “serve Him without fear,” It says “in holiness and righteousness.”
And so, God has delivered us from this world. We have a Deliverer. We’ve been freed from sin, and now we better continue to overcome. We better continue to serve Him. We better not be fearful, but recognize we have to put on righteousness, put on the righteousness of the character of Jesus Christ, and we’re reminded of that same story over and over and over again throughout the New Testament as well. And whether it’s here in Luke, or whether it’s in Romans 2, where it tells us, “Don’t be just a hearer but be a doer of the word.” Yeah, we better be moved to serve Him. Or whether it’s with what James said, James 2:20 James 2:20But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
American King James Version×says, “Faith without works is dead.”
Yes, we have to be doers. We have to put that faith into action. And so, we’re reminded of that story through the judge Shamgar. A sword in the hand of God, and we can be the same. We can be the one who serves and gives and accomplishes the will of God because God has given us tools. He’s given us a spiritual gift that we can use. And we’ve got to use what we’ve got, whatever that may be. And maybe it means stepping back and praying and asking God to show us clearly “What is the gift that You’ve given me?” Because He says in 1 Corinthians 12, we’ve been given a gift. Every one of us. So what is the gift or the gifts that God’s given each of us? What is that? Do with what you’ve got. God’s given us something, so do what you can with what He’s given you, and then put it in God’s hands. Let Him do the rest. He promises to do the rest, being delivered from the hand of our enemies. He promises to do that. And so we don’t forsake the fight. We stay in the battle. We stay in the fight for the length of our life, for the length of our life, we follow that.
In fact, in 1 Timothy 6:12 1 Timothy 6:12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.
American King James Version×, I wonder if Paul had Shamgar on his mind when he wrote to Timothy. I, kind of, doubt it, but maybe he did. I don’t know. Might have. 1 Timothy 6:12 1 Timothy 6:12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.
American King James Version×is certainly a reminder to Timothy, great reminder for us, especially in the context of the lessons that we can learn from the Judges. 1 Timothy 6:12 1 Timothy 6:12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses.
American King James Version×, Paul reminds us. “Fight the good fight of faith,” And we have that trust, we have that confidence, we have that deep assurance that God is going to work with us, and through us, and for us. So, “Fight that good fight of faith,” like Shamgar took that ox goad, we “lay hold on eternal life, to which you were called” he says, “and you’ve confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
And so, it’s… yeah, it’s not the Philistines that we’re called to fight. We’ve been called to a spiritual battle. We’ve been called to overcome. We’ve been called to put on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We’ve been called to be a soldier in God’s army, and overcome the challenges that we face in this world. And so, when we consider the Judges, especially if you consider the great Judges in Israel, you don’t discount the ones that even maybe just have one verse or two verses of that. Don’t just think of a Samson, or a Deborah, or a Gideon. Think of Shamgar. Think of Shamgar and the valuable lessons that we can learn even from the life of someone that seems insignificant.
There’s no insignificant when it comes to God’s calling. And so, there are so many things we can learn. So, take a look around those verses of Shamgar, and you’ll see other names that seem pretty insignificant. But take a look at those, read through those lesser known judges, and see if there are lessons that we can learn from their example as well that apply spiritually today. Because there are certainly these valuable lessons that we can learn from the life of even the little guys, even the lesser judges.
All right. That’s the study for tonight. Hope you enjoyed thinking about the judge Shamgar tonight, and let’s be a sword in the hand of God so that we can overcome the challenges that we face. Now, we will have another Beyond Today Bible study coming up in a couple of weeks. We’ll continue our series in the Judges. And so, you have to come next time so you can wonder, in the meantime, which Judge will we talk about next and what lessons can we learn from their example? Have a great evening. Be careful driving home. Thanks for joining us on the web as well, and we’ll look forward to seeing you next time.