Judges 3:31
After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath. And he too saved Israel, striking down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad.
A Man for the TimeJames Dann.Judges 3:31
Great Results with Imperfect ToolsJudges 3:31
ShamgarT. Kelly.Judges 3:31
ShamgarA.F. Muir Judges 3:31
Shamgar: Mean InstrumentsJ. Parker, D. D.Judges 3:31
Shamgar's Ox-GoadR. A. Watson, M. A.Judges 3:31
Shamgar's Ox-GoadJohn McNeill.Judges 3:31

A long interval has elapsed. The moral effect of Ehucl's feat is beginning to lessen. Another warning is required. It is given from the opposite side of Israel in the incursion of six hundred Philistines. These are not many, but they may be spies, pickets, the vanguard of great armies. If any effect is to be produced upon those who are behind them it must be by a sudden and. decisive blow. The example of Ehud is a precedent. Another hero rises to deliver Israel at a stroke. And by a rude and apparently ill-adapted weapon. Shamgar illustrates: -

I. THE INFLUENCE OF EXAMPLE. "After him" - an Ehud inspires a Shamgar.

II. OF THE GREAT EFFECTS WHICH MAY BE PRODUCED BY IMPERFECT MEANS WHEN ZEALOUSLY AND SEASONABLY USED. The slaying of the six hundred deterred perhaps a whole series of invasions. It lent itself easily to poetic treatment, and appealed to popular imagination. The inspiration of the deed was unmistakable. A common man, a rude implement used by Jehovah at a set time for the deliverance of his people.

III. OF THE SIGNIFICANCE AND VALUE OF A SINGLE GREAT DEED, We hear nothing of Shamgar before or after.

1. Its greatness lay in the agent rather than the means. Previous preparation of character was required.

2. The moral effect was sudden, wide-spread, and decisive. God used it for a greater purpose than was immediately contemplated.

3. But it did not qualify for permanent official usefulness. It was followed up by no spiritual witness, or succession of services. It might be that Shamgar outlived his fame, or obscured it by unworthy life, etc. The constant service ought to supplement the individual exploit. - M.

Shamgar the son of Anath.
This is one of the most singular and astonishing battles in the history of the world. If Shamgar had been stationed in some Thermopylae, where the foe could only come one or two at a time it would not have been so wonderful; but he was in the open field, literally surrounded by six hundred desperadoes, bent on plunder and death. It gives us some idea of what pluck can do for a man when fired with the love of home and country. To my mind, there is something wonderful, almost miraculous, in this strange battle and unparalleled victory. I wonder, first of all, how he could muster courage to face so many, and how he escaped when surrounded by such a multitude. I wonder also, that when the Philistines saw that they were being slaughtered at every blow, and that they had no power to injure their mysterious antagonist, that they fought on and stood their ground until the last man was slain. It only shows that men may have courage in fighting on the side of evil without a particle of truth or righteousness to inspire them; that they will sacrifice their lives on the altar of a bad cause as well as a good one.

I. MEN DETERMINE THEIR FUTURE BY THE MANNER IN WHICH THEY MEET THE DUTIES AND PROVOCATIONS OF THE PRESENT. God never selects a lazy, idle man, when He is going to choose a person to do some noble work. He promotes none but busy men. Shamgar was ploughing when the Philistines came upon him. It speaks well for him that he had heart to plough at such a time, for the whole country was thrown into great fear and discouragement. Few men, I am inclined to think, had courage enough just then to plough. Such men are an inspiration and a blessing to any community. So far as we can ascertain, Shamgar was an humble labouring man. Yet his heroic conduct on this occasion brought him into notice, and raised him to be one of the judges of Israel. The world is looking for men who can bring things to pass. Noble deeds are the stairway leading to greatness and honour. If you would be trusted, first learn to be honest; if you would rule, first learn how to obey; if you would rise to a more important position, fill the place where you are to overflowing with yourself, and God will soon beckon you to a wider sphere.

II. IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCCESS, IT IS POOR LOGIC TO THROW THE BLAME ON OUR INSTRUMENTS OR SURROUNDINGS. The workman is more than his tools. The spirit and skill of the worker tower above his surroundings, and give value and significance to the instruments he wields. Shamgar fought this battle with an ox goad. However discouraging your circumstances, if you give yourself fully to God, and walk in the full honours of uprightness before Him, the great Captain of our salvation will not only give you blessed foretastes of the "rest that remaineth for the people of God," but He will also enable you to cut your way to victory through all the spiritual Philistines that may confront you, even though your instruments may be as insignificant as those of Shamgar.

III. IN OUR LIFE WORK WE SHOULD BE NATURAL, AND USE THE INSTRUMENTS WE KNOW BEST HOW TO HANDLE. Shamgar fought with the ex-goad. He knew so well how to handle it that, at close range, it was a terrible weapon to come in contact with. He could kill more men with it in a crowd than with sword or musket. He knew the spring and feel of it so perfectly that every stroke brought two or three Philistines to the ground. What we want in order to our greatest possible efficiency is, not somebody else's way of doing things, but our own, trained and sanctified by the grace of God. No two persons are exactly alike; and so there are phases of work which each individual is constitutionally fitted to do which no other person can ever do quite as well.

IV. NEW INSTRUMENTALITIES SHOULD NOT BE CONDEMNED SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE NEW AND OUT OF THE REGULAR ORDER, BUT SHOULD BE JUDGED AND VALUED ACCORDING TO THEIR RESULTS. As a weapon of destruction the ox goad was unknown up to this time; but, judged of by its results, it was worthy of high appreciation. It may be that, in the past, the Church has been a little too conservative in the matter of new agency; that she has been too much inclined to condemn any agency that was not officially sanctioned or technically approved. There is nothing that carries conviction like the logic of facts, and nothing succeeds like success. Think of one man against six hundred, with nothing in his hands but an ox goad. You may not be as well qualified for the work as some others; but still God has a work for you to do, and He will help you to do it if you do your best and trust Him. It may be that your sphere is humble and obscure, but you can live a noble life and do grand work in obscurity. Some of the greatest evangelists of our own day teach us two lessons —

1. That sanctified individuality is the condition of usefulness and the great want of the times.

2. That the vast majority of Christians have talent enough to become each a mighty power, in the hands of God, to hasten the millennial glory of the future.

(T. Kelly.)

From this let all true patriots take heart — with the hour and the peril comes the man required.

I. THE APPARENT INCOMPATIBILITY AND INSUFFICIENCY OF THE DELIVERER AND HIS WEAPON. A herdman carrying a goad, an ugly implement some eight or ten feet long, and shod with iron. Uncouth, without such military training as the science of the times could give, destitute of such arms as the Philistines would be likely to fear. He could only be looked upon as an improvised leader with an extemporised armament. Opposed to him was a host led by hereditary chieftains. Now, as ever, the Philistine opponents of Christ and the truth grin inanely at the rabble rout, as they deem the Lord's host to be. They sneer at the Word, albeit they bear many scars inflicted by that old Damascene blade. They laugh at the praying, the preaching, and the labour of the "unlearned and ignorant men" whom the Lord has called to do His work.

II. THE TRIUMPHANT EFFICACY OF BOTH. Shamgar's generalship, strong arm, awful ox-goad, proved to be no laughing matters. The soul of a patriot, the genius of a leader, the skill of a strategist, were all in him. Neither devil, lords, nor army had much time to sneer when Shamgar reached them. They had mistaken the man, the instrument, and the God behind all. History repeats and spiritualises itself. For, we ask, in what is the augury, whence is the success of our Christian warfare, waged against the enemies of God and man? In numbers, literary efficiency, dialectical skill, scientific theology? Not so; Satan can beat us out of the field in every one of these. He is constantly doing it. Not all the drum-beating, banner-waving, and shouting of our conferences and demonstrations ever frighten him. But his doom is sealed when a Christ-filled Shamgar leads. That man who on his knees pleads and waits to know, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" — such are the men we want, the men we should pray for, the men we ought to be. The fact that we are Christians should be a certificate that we are surrendered, Christ-filled men, or our profession is a lie. Would that all were so. Oh, that all may become so! Whatever the sacrifice involved, there is no more happy life, and, at its close, can be no more glorious epitaph than "he saved Israel!"

(James Dann.)

1. How absurd it is for any man to blame his tools for bad work. Shamgar used an ox-goad; Samson wielded the jawbone of an ass; David had but a sling and stone. Some times we think what wonders we could do if we had better instruments.

2. How important it is that men should use those instruments which they can handle most skilfully. Shamgar knew how to use the ox-goad, and David knew how to use the sling and stone.

3. How foolish it would be to ridicule the instruments when the results are so obviously good. Look at the six hundred dead men! Look at the slain giant! Look at the prostrate walls of Jericho! The rule applies to every department of life. It applies to preaching. It applies to foreign missions. It applies to every Christian effort.

4. How victories are sometimes won in the face of the greatest improbabilities. One man against six hundred! Some men would have succumbed under the mere pressure of numbers, but Shamgar fought the crowd. Do not let us blame men for working with instruments that have not been officially or technically approved. The one great object is to do good. What meaner instrument can there be than the Cross?

(J. Parker, D. D.)

— Shamgar considered not whether he was equipped for attacking Philistines, but turned on them from the plough, his blood leaping in him with swift indignation. The instrument of his assault was not made for the use to which it was put: the power lay in the arm that wielded the goad and the fearless will of the man who struck for his own birthright, freedom — for Israel's birth right, to be the servant of no other race. Undoubtedly it is well that in any efforts made for the Church or for society men should consider how they are to act, and should furnish themselves in the best manner for the work that is to be done. No outfit of knowledge, skill, experience, is to be despised. A man does not serve the world better in ignorance than in learning, in bluntness than in refinement. But the serious danger for such an age as our own is that strength may be frittered away and zeal expended in the mere preparation of weapons, in the mere exercise before the war begins. The important points at issue are apt to be lost sight of, and the vital distinctions on which the whole battle turns to fade away in an atmosphere of compromise.

(R. A. Watson, M. A.)

The ox-goad was not much; but Shamgar with the ox-goad, that was the sight to see. Perhaps you cannot work the ox-goad. It fitted Shamgar, and he fitted it; but, after all, it was the man. It is the man. I read Wesley's sermons — those sermons that routed the Philistines of a hundred years ago, and delivered Israel over all this England; I read those sermons of Wesley and Whitefield, and, I say, what is in them? You would be tired of them from me. Why? You see the obvious answer. You look at that ox-goad and say, "There is not much in that"; neither is there. It was the man, and God in the man. One was taken to see a famous sword that had belonged to a famous swordsman, and when he saw it he said, "I do not see much in that sword," and there came the obvious answer, "No, but you should have seen the arm that wielded it." Shamgar's hand grew into the hilt of that ox-goad, and it became part of him. The ox-goad and Shamgar, again, became part of the arm of the Lord God Almighty. That was all in it, and that may be in you and me, God taking our individuality and consecrating it and using it for His eternal glory. Now, be yourself, whether you be at the plough or at the desk; God can do His work with the ox-goad; He can do it with the pen; He can do it with anything if it lies near His hand. And, last of all, what honourable mention this ploughman gets: "He also delivered Israel." Why, the mighty Joshua did no more!

(John McNeill.)

Many of the discoveries in astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, navigation, and science generally, were made with very imperfect instruments. Dr. Valentine Mott's remarkable surgical skill is the more honourable because of his comparatively poor instruments. True genius shows itself in accomplishing grand results with imperfect tools. Rittenhouse, whose name is a synonym for marvellous scientific attainments, worked in boyhood on his father's farm, and calculated eclipses on plough-handles and fences; and, although studying alone, made himself master of Newton's "Principia," and discovered for himself the method of fluxions when in his nineteenth year. It is little wonder that when he observed the transit of Venus (June 3, 1769), while in his private observatory at Norriton, he fainted from excitement at the moment of apparent contact. Benjamin West, the Anglo-American painter, made his first colours from leaves and berries, and his first brushes were taken from a cat's tail. Thus self-taught, at the age of sixteen he practised portrait-painting in the villages near Philadelphia, his first historical picture being "The Death of Socrates." Humphry Davy had but little opportunity to acquire scientific knowledge, but he made old pans, kettles, and bottles contribute to his success as he experimented in the attic of the apothecary shop in which he was employed. Over a stable in London lived Michael Faraday, a poor boy who made a living by carrying news papers to customers. While apprenticed to a bookbinder and engaged in binding the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," his eyes fell on the article on electricity. He had only a glass vial, an old pan, and a few other articles with which to make experiments. A friend took him to hear Sir Humphry Davy lecture on chemistry. Later the great Davy called on the humble Michael. The years pass, and Tyndall said of Faraday, "He is the greatest experimental philosopher the world has ever seen.".

Amalek, Amalekites, Ammonites, Amorites, Anath, Aram, Canaanites, Chushanrishathaim, Chushan-rishathaim, Eglon, Ehud, Gera, Hittites, Hivite, Hivites, Israelites, Jebusites, Kenaz, Moabites, Othniel, Perizzites, Shamgar, Sidonians, Zidonians
Canaan, Gilgal, Jordan River, Lebanon, Lebo-hamath, Mesopotamia, Moab, Mount Baal-hermon, Seirah
Anath, Death, Delivered, Goad, Hundred, Killed, Ox, Oxgoad, Ox-goad, Ox-stick, Philistines, Saved, Saveth, Saviour, Shamgar, Six, Slew, Smiteth, Smote, Struck
1. The nations which were left to prove Israel
5. By communion with them they commit idolatry
8. Othniel delivered them from Chushan-Rishathaim
12. Ehud from Eglon
31. and Shamgar from the Philistines

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Judges 3:31

     4648   goad
     6634   deliverance

Use what You Have
Few people really are and do their best. Nature has blessed a few with great talents and abilities. These persons often become proud, self-centered, and feel themselves to be superior, and for that reason many times they fail to make the proper use of their abilities. How often are they used in a bad or foolish way, so that what might be a blessing to the world fails to be such! There are many others who realize they do not possess these natural gifts. They look upon those who have them, and envy
Charles Wesley Naylor—Heart Talks

Gifts and Talents.
"And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him."--Judges iii. 10. We now consider the Holy Spirit's work in bestowing gifts, talents, and abilities upon artisans and professional men. Scripture declares that the special animation and qualification of persons for work assigned to them by God proceed from the Holy Spirit. The construction of the tabernacle required capable workmen, skilful carpenters, goldsmiths, and silversmiths, and masters in the arts of weaving and embroidering. Who will furnish Moses
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Whether Baptism Should Take Away the Penalties of Sin that Belong to this Life?
Objection 1: It seems that Baptism should take away the penalties of sin that belong to this life. For as the Apostle says (Rom. 5:15), the gift of Christ is farther-reaching than the sin of Adam. But through Adam's sin, as the Apostle says (Rom. 5:12), "death entered into this world," and, consequently, all the other penalties of the present life. Much more, therefore, should man be freed from the penalties of the present life, by the gift of Christ which is received in Baptism. Objection 2: Further,
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

"This Then is the Message which we have Heard of Him, and Declare unto You, that God is Light,"
1 John i. 5.--"This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light," &c. The great design of the gospel is to make up the breach of man's joy, and open up the way to the fulness of it, and therefore it is the good news and glad tidings of great joy, the only best message that ever came to the world. Now it shows unto us the channel that this river of gladness and joy runs into, it discovers what is the way of the conveyance of it to the soul, and what are
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Whether the Old Law Enjoined Fitting Precepts Concerning Rulers?
Objection 1: It would seem that the Old Law made unfitting precepts concerning rulers. Because, as the Philosopher says (Polit. iii, 4), "the ordering of the people depends mostly on the chief ruler." But the Law contains no precept relating to the institution of the chief ruler; and yet we find therein prescriptions concerning the inferior rulers: firstly (Ex. 18:21): "Provide out of all the people wise [Vulg.: 'able'] men," etc.; again (Num. 11:16): "Gather unto Me seventy men of the ancients of
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

The Country of Jericho, and the Situation of the City.
Here we will borrow Josephus' pencil, "Jericho is seated in a plain, yet a certain barren mountain hangs over it, narrow, indeed, but long; for it runs out northward to the country of Scythopolis,--and southward, to the country of Sodom, and the utmost coast of the Asphaltites." Of this mountain mention is made, Joshua 2:22, where the two spies, sent by Joshua, and received by Rahab, are said to "conceal themselves." "Opposite against this, lies a mountain on the other side Jordan, beginning from
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The Prophecy of Obadiah.
We need not enter into details regarding the question as to the time when the prophet wrote. By a thorough argumentation, Caspari has proved, that he occupies his right position in the Canon, and hence belongs to the earliest age of written prophecy, i.e., to the time of Jeroboam II. and Uzziah. As bearing conclusively against those who would assign to him a far later date, viz., the time of the exile, there is not only the indirect testimony borne by the place which this prophecy occupies in
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The Doctrine of Angels.
Rev. William Evans—The Great Doctrines of the Bible

For the understanding of the early history and religion of Israel, the book of Judges, which covers the period from the death of Joshua to the beginning of the struggle with the Philistines, is of inestimable importance; and it is very fortunate that the elements contributed by the later editors are so easily separated from the ancient stories whose moral they seek to point. That moral is most elaborately stated in ii. 6-iii. 6, which is a sort of programme or preface to iii. 7-xvi. 31, which constitutes
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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