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Devotional Word for Friday, July 10, 2020

Have you ever considered Shamgar the son of Anath?  Not only would that be a great name for child, Shamgar has an awesome witness in the Scriptures.  You might not be familiar with Shamgar.  In fact, if you blink you will likely miss all mention of him.  He is a judge in Israel in the book of Judges.  He is only really mentioned in one verse.  In a later chapter in Judges, Deborah refers back to him but doesn’t add anything new information about him.  So here it is; the sum total of Shamgar’s life in the Bible is as follows.  AFTER HIM (Ehud) CAME SHAMGAR THE SON OF ANATH, WHO STRUCK DOWN SIX HUNDERED PHILISTINES WITH AN OXGOAD; AND HE ALSO SAVED ISRAEL.

As I said, Shamgar was a judge.  That means he lived during a time when the Israelites had moved into the promised land.  They were stuck in this cycle of sin, enslavement, and salvation.  Basically, the people would fall into sin.  Usually they would begin to follow other gods or worship idols.  The Lord would hand them over to a foreign power.  The people would groan under the rule of the foreign power and cry out to God.  God would then raise up a deliverer called a judge to redeem them from the hand of the enemy.  Shamgar was one of these judges and he was clearly a mighty man.  He killed 600 philistines with an oxgoad.  To be clear, an oxgoad is an old timey cattle prod.  Instead of a device to give a little shock to a cow, an oxgoad was just a pointy stick.  

There are likely a few responses running through your head as you consider Shamgar.  The part of you that is closest to a video game playing nine-year-old is probably thinking, “Cool, I wish the Lord would raise me up just like Shamgar!”  Perhaps a part of you further from that nine-year-old is wondering why there has to be so much bloodshed.  Likely most of you are wondering how you should read, understand, and apply verses like Judges 3:31 to your life.  I would like to suggest that there are three truths that come from this verse that we can apply to our lives.

First, God hears His people and answers them.  Remember that Shamgar as a judge was operating in a time of distress.  God’s people were in trouble, they called to the Lord, and He responded.  Just as the Lord responded to the people of Israel, He continues to respond to us today.  When we are in distress, we need to call out to Him with confidence that He will hear us and respond.

Second, from the time of Cain and Abel, mankind has sought to rule over one another by force.  Just as it has been from the fall so it will continue until the Lord Jesus returns.  That means that we should not be surprised as we see violence around us.  Further, as Psalm 2 tells us nations and their leaders are seeking to reject the rule of the Lord.  As the Lord works in history to deliver His people, the nations violently seek to throw off the Lord.  In turn, those nations are judged often in the same manner.  Shamgar was carrying the execution of the Lord’s judgment on those who deny Him.

Third, we need to see that Shamgar in his one verse of faithful judging points us to the Lord Jesus.  Shamgar saved Israel for a time, but the Lord Jesus, by His life, death, and resurrection, saves us forever.  As a result, when we read through the book of Judges and we see broken and imperfect people delivering Israel from their enemies, we need to reflect upon the Lord Jesus who was whole and perfect and laid down His life that we might be whole and perfect with Him forever.  Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, thank you for hearing our prayers.  Thank you for being faithful to keep Your promises even when Your people have not been faithful to You.  I pray that You would send Your Spirit to us that we might earnestly seek you all the days of our lives.  Further, I pray that we would never stop marveling at the Lord Jesus, Your eternal Son, who has taken away our sin and in whose name we pray. Amen.