A Life As Meaningful As Shamgar’s

Just as a heads up, the Storming Jericho crew has taken a short break in order to enjoy Lindsie’s younger sister’s wedding. We’re back in the Dakotas for another day or two, then we’re getting a ride back down to Highway 54 so we can hit the road again. As a result, this post isn’t a “from the road” update, but hopefully you still think it has some value.

The epic tale of Shamgar

A few nights ago, I was doing my daily Bible study and I was reading through the book of Judges. If you haven’t read Judges or aren’t familiar with it, Judges focuses on the Old Testament leaders of Israel who led Israel against various oppressive nations and rulers from the surrounding lands.

The general process of the book is that God would appoint a judge, he or she would lead the Israelites out of oppression, then, after a few years, the Israelites would forget about God and start worshipping other nations’ gods. Then God would allow oppressive rulers to take over again, the Israelites would whine and beg for help, and the process would start all over at the beginning.

Some of these judges are pretty famous as far as Biblical history goes. There’s Deborah (Judges 4-5), the only female judge mentioned in the Bible and a fierce warrior who led the Israelites against the king of Canaan. There’s Gideon (Judges 6-8), whose awesome name means “Destroyer” or “Mighty Warrior” and who led just 300 Israelites to victory against thousands of Midianites. There was Samson (Judges 13-16), to whom God gave superhuman strength as long as he didn’t cut his hair and who once killed 1,000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone, amongst other things. All in all, the book of Judges is filled with some impressive people.

Then there’s this guy named Shamgar. If you’re familiar with Shamgar, good job. If you’re not familiar with Shamgar, don’t feel bad. Why? Because Shamgar basically has one verse of his own. Many of the other judges have entire chunks of verses—if not multiple chapters—describing their feats, accomplishments, and in some cases, their flaws. Shamgar, however, basically gets a single verse describing his leadership as a judge of Israel. But it’s a pretty awesome verse.

“After [Ehud] was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel.” (Judges 3:31)

To clarify, an ox goad is the stick that plowmen would use back in the day to encourage their oxen to plow the fields. Not exactly something you’d consider to be a weapon of mass destruction. But somehow Shamgar was blessed enough by God to kill 600 Philistines with a single stick.

The point of this post isn’t to tell you about a barely-mentioned judge from the Old Testament. It’s to bring up the fact that some people might read Shamgar’s verse and think of it almost like an afterthought. As if the writer at the time remembered at the very last second that he should throw something in about that Shamgar guy.

But the thing that has been stuck in my head for 2-3 days now is this: What if you only had ONE verse written about you in the Bible? What would you want it to say? If I look back on my life and consider what I’ve tried to accomplish so far to find what most people consider to be “success,” would any of those events and decisions be worthy of even a single verse in the Bible?

We may not go out tomorrow and slay 600 Philistines with an ox goad. (Frankly, we probably shouldn’t even try to…mostly because they don’t exist anymore, but also just because…)

But God does have big plans in store for every one of us. It’s whether or not we choose to act on those big plans that makes the difference. Shamgar did. If he hadn’t stepped up and done something insane and incredible, he might not have ever done anything worthy of mention in the Bible. Instead he fearlessly did what God commanded him to do and made an impact that is still read by people thousands of years later.

It may only be one verse, but it’s a verse that certainly says a lot about Shamgar and his faith in God.

Just a thought that I’ve wanted to get out for a few days now. It may seem odd to want to live a life like Shamgar, but it doesn’t seem quite so odd when you think about how being a little weird or crazy for God can make more of a long-term impact than we could ever imagine.


P.S. – I do want to clarify that Shamgar is mentioned ever-so-slightly in Judges 5:6, when Deborah sings, “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways.” But in my opinion that’s more a description of the environment of that time than a description of Shamgar himself.

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