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Shamgar

“After him, Shamgar, the son of Anath, who slew Philistines — 600 men — with the goad of an ox. He also saved Israel. 

(Judges 3:31)

Shamgar is a judge that we know almost nothing about. He is only mentioned here and in Judges 5:6 (which is a historical note). The historical note from Judges 5 is valuable, as the text implies that Shamgar lived at the same time as Jael, which would mean that Shamgar’s judge-ship overlapped that of Deborah, helping to reconcile the years covered by the book of Judges with the historical chronology.

What I like about Shamgar is that, like Samson, he is remembered for a mighty and miraculous victory over the enemies of God’s people. While Samson slew 1,000 with a jawbone, Shamgar slew 600 with an ox-goad, an 8-foot stick with a pointy end. The end is not like a spear, that would ordinarily pierce the skin, but is sharp enough to prod an ox to move in the direction that the farmer desires. This is the kind of battle that legends are made out of, yet, here we find it taking place in time and space in human history. This, of course, is not to give credit to Shamgar, but to God who empowered Shamgar to win this battle.

In terms of application, the temptation is to say, “See, God did this through Shamgar, he can do it through you if you are faithful.” Maybe, maybe not. That kind of application may be exciting, but often is not realized in people’s lives because God has other plans, makes people think that God is at our beck and call, and simply diminishes the text into a kind of motivational speech.

The proper way to apply a text like this is to point at how little is mentioned about the man. The whole note is tucked away at the end of the account of Ehud and before the account of Deborah. It is almost as if the Biblical writer was saying, “oh, by the way, there was this guy, what’s his name…oh, Shamgar, who also killed Philistines…” God wins the battles, God gets the credit, God’s name is glorified, and God’s victory is the one to remember…not man’s. And thus, as we have our little victories in life, to whom do we give the glory? Whose name do we desire to be remembered? Is it the name of God? Is it our own name? The latter is vanity.

Outline of Judges

Book of Judges Outline

 

          I.     The Crisis and Conquest after Joshua’s Death (1:1-36)

a.     Who shall go up to fight for us?  (1:1-2)

b.     Judah and Simeon go up & defeat the Canaanites (1:3-7)

c.     Judah fights and takes the city of Jerusalem (1:8-10)

d.     Continued conquest (1:11-20)

e.     Benjamin fails to drive out the Jebusites (1:21)

f.      Joseph takes Bethel (1:22-26)

g.     Manasseh) fails to drive out Canaanites (1:27-28)

h.     Ephraim fails to drive out Canaanites (1:29)

i.      Zebulun fails to drive out Canaanites (1:30)

j.      Asher fails to drive out Canaanites (1:31-32)

k.     Naphtali fails to drive out Canaanites (1:33)

l.      Dan pushed back by the Amorites (1:34)

m.   Joseph halts Amorite advance (1:35-36)

        II.     First cycle of Sin

a.     The Angel of the Lord pronounces judgment for not breaking down pagan altars (2:1-5)

b.     The people return to their homes under Joshua’s leadership and lived in peace all of the days of Joshua’s life and of the lives of those who knew him (2:6-10)

c.     The people did “The Evil” (2:11-13)

d.     God gives them up to their enemies (2:14-15)

e.     The Summary of the Book (2:16-3:6)

      III.     Second Cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (3:7)

b.     The people served the Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia for 8 years (3:8)

c.     God raised up Othniel as a deliverer (3:9-10)

d.     The land  had “rest” 40 years (3:11)

      IV.     Third cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (3:12)

b.     The people served the Eglon, king of Moab for 18 years (3:12-14)

                                               i.     Possible setting for the book of Ruth?

c.     God raised up Ehud as a deliverer (3:15-29)

d.     The land had “rest” for 80 years (3:30)

e.     God raised up Shamgar as deliverer against the  Philistines (3:31)

        V.     Fourth cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (4:1)

b.     Jabin, King of Canaan & Sisera conquered for 20 years (4:2-3)

c.     God raised up Deborah as deliverer (4:4-24)

d.     The Song of Deborah (5:1-31)

e.     The land had rest for 40 years (5:31)

      VI.     Fifth cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (6:1)

b.     Midian conquered for 7 years (6:2-6)

c.     God sends a prophet to speak warning to the people (6:7-10)

d.     God raises up Gideon as deliverer (6:11-8:21)

e.     The people seek to make Gideon king (8:22-27)

f.      The land had rest for 40 years (8:28)

    VII.     Interlude:  Abimelech’s reign

a.     The people enter into idolatry (8:29-35)

b.     The rise of Abimelech to power (9:1-6)

c.     The Parable of the Trees (9:7-15)

d.     The Judgment of Jotham (9:16-21)

e.     Abimelech reigns for 3 years (9:22)

f.      The fall of Abimelech (9:23-57)

g.     God raised up Tola as judge for 23 years (10:1-2)

h.     God raised up Jair as judge for 22 years (10:3-5)

  VIII.     Sixth Cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (10:6)

b.     The Philistines conquered for 18 years (10:7-9)

c.     The people repent and the Lord rebukes them (10:10-16)

d.     Who will go up for us? (10:17-18)

e.     God raises up Jephthah as deliverer (11:1-33)

f.      The result of Jephthah’s hasty vow (11:34-40)

g.     Jephthah leads the people of Gilead against the people of Ephraim (12:1-6)

h.     Jepthah judged Israel for 6 years (12:7)

i.      God raised up Ibzan as judge for 7 years (12:8-10)

j.      God raised up Elon as judge for 10 years (12:11-12)

k.     God raised up Abdon as judge for 8 years (12:13-15)

      IX.     Seventh Cycle of Sin

a.     The people did “The Evil” (13:1)

b.     The Philistines conquered for 40 years (13:1)

c.     God raises up Samson as deliverer (13:2-15:19)

d.     Samson judges Israel for 20 years (15:20)

e.     Samson and Delilah (16:1-22)

f.      Samson’s Faithful Death (16:23-31)

        X.     Interlude:  Micah, two Levites, the Tribe of Dan, and the Concubine

a.     Micah and the Levite (17:1-13)

b.     Micah’s Idol and Levite taken by the Tribe of Dan (18:1-31)

c.     The Levite and his Concubine (19:1-30)

d.     The people of Israel avenge the Levite against Benjamin (20:1-48)

e.     Wives for the men of the tribe of Benjamin (21:1-24)

      XI.     Close of the Book

a.     “There was no king in Israel and everyone did what is right in their own eyes”