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The Oxgoad: The Time Before the Kings, Part 4

by | Apr 25, 2024 | God Is In Control, God Rules, Gods Ways, Power, Presence, The Time Before the Kings ...

Last week, in The Time Before the Kings, Part 3, we saw that for the battle between good and evil, we have been given a “sword”, the Word of God, containing everything that we need to fight the lies of the enemy. Our job is to use it!

Today’s lesson is recorded in God’s Word: Judges 3:31. After Ehud, someone new is mentioned, someone we know very little about. In fact, his entire story is summed up in just one verse: “After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.” (Judges 3:31 NIV).

Now I have to admit, I thought twice about dedicating an entire devotional to a man who only appears in one tiny verse in the Bible… If we dig deep, however, there are some powerful lessons we can learn from this Shamgar…

Interestingly, Shamgar is not a name of Hebrew descent; but rather, it is Hurrian, a people who settled in the land of Canaan more than 200years before the Israelite settlement.

We also know that Shamgar was the son of Anath. Anath was, interestingly, a well-known warrior goddess, one of many in the collection of Canaanite gods.

Some have speculated that Shamgar was the product of a mixed marriage between an Israelite and someone of Hurrian descent. Others speculate that he had no ties whatsoever with Israel, and given that he obviously associated himself with the warrior goddess, Anath, of the Canaanites, this could very well be the case as well!

But if this is true, how did he make it into the Hebrew scriptures?

The same way Cyrus made it into Jewish prophecy and became the liberator of the Jews after the Babylonian captivity! “…who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please…” (Isaiah 48:28 NIV)! God doesn’t only use people who believe in Him to accomplish His purposes! No, indeed! He even used a donkey once (See Numbers 22-24)! So why not a Canaanite who followed the goddess Anath?

If you jump forward two chapters in the book of Judges to the song of Deborah, we find the only other Biblical reference to Shamgar: “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths.” (Judges 5:6 NIV). This text gives us a tiny window of context. The Philistines were so oppressive that it wasn’t safe for Israelites to walk the highways. Rather, they were forced to take the side roads! Somewhere in the unrecorded history between Elhud and Shamgar, the Philistines began terrorizing Israel!

Interestingly, in most of the other references to the entrance of the various judges, we are told that Israel cried out to God and He sent them a deliverer. We aren’t told that in this particular story. If the people actually did cry out to God, it isn’t recorded; and since it usually is recorded, it is safe to suggest that perhaps the people didn’t actually call out to God in their trouble!

So here we have the possible scenario of a people terrorized by the Philistines to the point that they have taken to hiding along the side roads, a people who may not have even called out to God, yet God brings in someone who potentially may not even be an Israelite, one who likely doesn’t worship God and may even have allegiances to a pagan goddess!

Then we get to the key part of this text. He, “…struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad.” (Judges 3:31 NIV).

An ox goad? Essentially a long stick with a pointed end used to guide animals? That’s certainly not a weapon of war in my book!

Nonetheless, Shamgar used this pointed stick to strike down 600 philistines, and in so doing, he “saved” Israel!

Despite the speculation, I believe it is safe to say that this particular deliverer of Israel was quite unconventional! And this teaches us that our Almighty Father doesn’t need conventional ways to come to our rescue! He doesn’t even always wait for us to cry out to Him before preparing our deliverance! He uses whomever, whatever and whenever to accomplish His purposes!

What miracle of the Lord do you need right now? Whatever it is, take comfort in the fact that God knows your need, even before you cry out to Him! And quite possibly, long before you lift your eyes to Him, He is already preparing your way of escape.

Don’t look for the conventional methods, however. God may not use those at all! What this means is that the miracle you “expect” may look totally different from the one you get! You may think you need a job to feed your family; but God may send you money every month instead. You may think God needs to remove your pain; but maybe He wants you to take a stand in faith! To do what is required of you despite the pain, ever believing that He will make a way!

God is the God of the unconventional, and when we only look for conventional answers to our problems, we limit the Almighty God!

Whatever it is you need, cry out to God and give it to Him. Then watch and wait for how He decides to move, ever knowing that He can perform the miraculous with something as common and ordinary as a pointed stick used to guide animals!

Please join us next week to begin looking at the story of Deborah in “The Time Before the Kings, Part 5!”

In His love,

Lynona Gordon Chaffart
Author, Moderator, Acting Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries

(To access the entire “The Time Before the Kings” mini-series, please click here.)


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