After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath became judge. He delivered Israel by striking down 600 Philistines with an oxgoad.
-Judges 3:31 (HCSB)
The book of Judges tells of the repetitive cycle the Israelites found themselves in during a course of their history. Essentially, the people would get involved with sinful activity and turn their back toward God, which in turn brought suffering upon the people. God would respond by sending a deliverer, or judge, to rescue them.
One such judge is Shamgar. We are introduced to him in Chapter 3, Verse 31, and told that he is the son of Anath; that he saved Israel; and that he killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad.
And that’s it. The guy doesn’t even get a second verse. Shamgar is a one-verse wonder.
While one could argue that we aren’t told enough about Shamgar to warrant even studying him, perhaps what we do know from this single verse is more than sufficient.
For example, his name. Shamgar is not a Hebrew name. That point is further verified by the “son of Anath” addition. Anath was the name of the Canaanite goddess of war. So being referred to as “son of Anath” is more of a cultural clue rather than a genealogical one. So just from his name we can conclude that God used a non-Israelite to save his people. Interesting…
Secondly, the man used an oxgoad to slaughter hundreds of Philistines. An oxgoad was an 8-foot long stick with a pointed, iron tip used to prod and drive oxen. It wasn’t a weapon by design… It was a farming tool. Shamgar obviously wasn’t prepared. Either this fight with the Philistines caught him off guard, or he simply didn’t have traditional weapons at his disposal. So Shamgar had to be innovative and show some creativity. He used what he had — in this case, an oxgoad.
What makes Shamgar’s story so relavant and applicable today is that it hits upon so many modern-day Christian excuses… “God would never use someone like me… I am not prepared… I do not have the resources.” Shamgar is evidence to the contrary. All those excuses should be tossed out.
The person does not matter if God is guiding. The readiness does not matter if God is backing. And the weapon does not matter if God is empowering.
Shamgar was an unlikely choice with inadequate preparation and arsenal. Yet, God used him to save Israel. And he can use you too, right now, if you’re willing.
Even if you have to use your oxgoad.