The Judge Shamgar

Who is Shamgar?  Besides being the third Judge of Israel what else do we know about?

He was a labouring man, a tiller of the ground, and it is thought that on account of the exploit recorded of him in the text he was raised to dignity. According to the Song of Deborah (Judges v. 6) life was very insecure at that time : — ” In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.”
What is termed an ” ox goad ” in the text is literally ” a thing to teach oxen.” Ox goads have always been regarded as formidable instruments some eight feet long and pointed with a strong, sharp iron head. The Thracian king Lycurgus is said to have chased the Bacchanals with an ox goad.


According to Ellicott’s Bible —  “The Athenians in their painting of Marathon represent the gigantic rustic Echetlus, who was supposed to have slain so many Persians with his ploughshare.”   Very impressive indeed.  This is followed up by a  traveller who had seen Eastern ploughing and writes: “It was observable that in ploughing they used goads of an extraordinary size and upon measuring several I found them about eight feet long, and at the bigger end six inches in circumference. They were armed at the lesser end with a sharp prickle for driving the oxen, and at the other end with a small spade or paddle of iron, strong and massy, for cleansing the plough from the clay which encumbers it in working.”

Shamgar was working in the field with one of those goads when six hundred Philistines made their appearance but so vigorously did he wield it that not a man of the whole crowd escaped with his life.
Again, like Joshua who was old and stricken, one of the most obvious lessons you learn  from this incident is that we should not complain of the tools at hand or we have hard work to do. When the work turns out  badly we are apt to blame the tools and say, had I but this…or that,  but do we say the same when the work turns out well?  No.  Usually then we take lots of credit and blow our horn happy that we succeeded.  There is a disconnect there, and these Judges of the Old Testament show it to us clearly…you learn nothing by relying on the tool, but when you rely on your own initiative, hard work and faith, you learn alot.  You learn humility and a certain amount of personal pride…I did that, looking back, I am amazed how, but I did.

Shakespeare wrote all of his plays by hand but now people need a word processor.  Millions ploughed the earth with nothing but their bare backs and some crude implements.  Don’t assume that they were used to the hard work — I’m sure plenty worked slowly and in great pain before they got really did  “good at it” — it’s just that no one sang songs and wrote stories of their endless hours of rote, memorisation and practise because chances are no one was around watching.

What people did notice was their victories  and its of those we sing, but before you get there, it’s a lot of hard work, usually begin with the goal in mind and use what you have:  Shamgar used an ox goad; Samson wielded the jaw-bone of an as ; David had but a sling and stone.

Think of your excuse, mine is my “tiredness” and ill health  but for others it is lack of SEO engines on their site, their inability to type, their lack of time and so on, instead ignore it all, and like Nike says, Just do it.   Let me know how it goes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.