And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
- Judges 3:31
Last week, I was out of town for work which of course meant I was away from my family. I returned on Sunday. That night, I put my sons to bed and we went through our usual prayers. They asked me to tell them a story. I suspect it was so they could stay up a little longer, but I missed them all week, so I indulged them.
I usually regale the boys with the stories of “Daddy and Uncle Jimmy.” These are tall tales in which my brother Jimmy and I rescue fair damsels, fly to the moon, and generally save the day.
This night I was inspired by some excellent preaching I had heard earlier that day. Rather than my usual embellishments, I decided to tell the boys about a real life hero of old: Shamgar.
Shamgar is the Israelite hero who slew 600 Philistines using only an oxgoad. Shamgar v. the Philistines was a David v. Goliath – only more awesome. David had a sling against an armored giant. Shamgar fought 600 Philistine troops with what was essentially a pointy stick. Against all odds, Shamgar rolled to victory.
While the Bible only offers a few verses about Shamgar, I and my sons were able to “fill in” the gaps creatively. Shamgar, transformed by the power of God, became an unstoppable warrior, a real mixed martial arts/Rambo figure. By the time we were done and ready for bed, all three of us agreed to start using “Shamgar” as our nickname as in “Mikey Shamgar,” “Edward Shamgar,” and “Daddy Shamgar.”
Lying on their bedroom floor as my sons ascended to their bunk beds, I quietly thanked God for his gifts to me – especially my sons. Tucking them in and saying our final “good nights” I hope my boys will remember the central truth of the story of Shamgar vs the 600 – that the Lord will use us where we are and with the tools we have at hand. There is no doubt that Shamgar’s victory was the work of God. So long as we are prepared to give God the Glory, he will accomplish great things in our lives.
I feel overwhelmed. Often. I have never faced six men bent on doing me harm, much less 600, but given the many messes in which we find ourselves, I can empathize with how Shamgar might have felt when the war cry of 600 barbaric Philistines unleashed and bore down upon him, and the surprise he must have felt when the last invader fell.
I am confident that if we will humble ourselves, face the challenges before us with the simple faith that our future is with God no matter the outcome, we too will experience the elation Shamgar’s family and friends heard the news of the deliverance of Israel.
All the best.