Shamgar: Major Lessons From A Minor Judge

Shamgar son of Anath rescued Israel. He once killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. (Judges 3:31)

1. No one is exempt from serving God:  Consider Shamgar. He battled the Philistines with an ox goad. It is very likely that he was just a poor farmer (i.e., a peasant).

2. Serve God even if you are a “nobody”:  Rather than looking to ourselves and asking to be excused we need to look to God and get to work. “But I’m just a nobody…” sounds a lot like the feeble excuse of Moses (Exodus 3:11). God didn’t accept that excuse then and He will not accept it today. This excuse “But I’m just a nobody…” could have been used by Shamgar, but he determined to serve God in his generation.

3. Serve God with what you have:  Shamgar’s war instrument was an ox goad. This was a farming tool! Generally, it was about eight feet long with a sharp metal spike at one end to prod animals to work. Shamgar used this humble agricultural implement in battle against Philistia. Let us allow the lesson of his ox-goad to “prod” us to acknowledge the fact that there is room in God’s kingdom for the “small things” that we can do. At the end of time, when every account is rendered, we may very well find that the greatest deeds were done quietly and unassumingly, far distant from the limelight. Moses’ rod (Exodus 4:1-5) was a simple shepherd’s tool, but what great things God accomplished through it!

4. Service to God must be courageous and voluntary:  Shamgar faced 600 armed pagan soldiers with a lowly farm tool. His bravery and courage are obvious. We need more people like Shamgar, who will ARISE and FIGHT…voluntarily. From Pentecost till the return of Christ, people continue to “volunteer freely” and present themselves as free-will offerings before God. Is your service forced and begrudged? Or is it what it ought to be: voluntary?

It is not always popular to stand against ungodliness. In fact, it is frequently very tempting to “go with the flow” and look for the easy way out. However, “The easy way is rarely the right way.” We must be constant and true in our service to God and refuse to waver in our convictions. Is your service timid and hesitant? Or is it what it ought to be: courageous?

If your spiritual service to God is truly voluntary and courageous, then you are imitating the examples of Shamgar!

5. Even “ordinary” men can be heroes:  A “hero” is “a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities.” How can Shamgar be considered a hero, you ask? Any time a man performs regular, routine, even ordinary service unto God–voluntarily and without complaint–such a man should be admired and praised! Shamgar kept the peace and kept the faith in his time. He exerted a positive influence on those around him. Is there nothing noble about that? Is there nothing admirable — even heroic — in stemming the tide of sin and apostasy in one’s own time?                                                                                (CRAIG MEYER)

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