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.
Shamgar was an unlikely hero indeed. His name gives us insight into his personality, for in the Hebrew culture, names carried great significance and were given according to one’s personality or prophecy concerning him. Shamgar’s father was named Anath, or “Afflicted.” Shamgar’s own name means “The desolate dragged away one” - not a very likely name for a hero.
Shamgar is also an unknown hero, for there is no mention of him anywhere in Scripture except for this single verse. Consequently, we don’t know about his past, nor do we know what happened to him after this incident took place.
Unlikely, unknown, and unsung - that’s Shamgar. After all, how many of you proclaim the heroics of Shamgar? How many name him as one of their favorite Bible heroes? And yet, Shamgar was utilized in God’s work and recorded in God’s Word as one whom the Lord used mightily.
What did Shamgar do? This man - who was unknown, unlikely, and unsung - accomplished an incredible feat. He took on six hundred Philistines and whipped them single-handedly - six hundred Philistines who so oppressed the people of Israel that men were afraid to travel on the highways; six hundred Philistines who virtually brought village life to a standstill. The Philistines were brutal oppressors, yet Shamgar killed six hundred of them with only an ox goad.
Why did he use an ox goad? I believe it was because Shamgar was one who worked with oxen - a rancher, a herdsman. You see, the ox goad - a stick used to prod cattle - was a common instrument, easily accessible to anyone who worked with livestock.
I point this out to remind you that the Lord delights in using whatever is in your hand in order to bring about His purposes through your life. God has gifted you with talents, given you abilities, and placed within you certain desires and interests - and those are the very components He desires to utilize for the work of His Kingdom through you. Truly, He will use whatever is in your hand.
When God called Moses to go before Pharaoh, Moses balked, fearing no one would listen to him.
“What is that in your hand?” asked the Lord.
“A rod,” answered Moses.
“Throw it down,” said God.
As Moses threw the rod to the ground, it miraculously became a snake. And when he picked it up, it became a rod once again.
God used a common, ordinary, everyday shepherd’s rod to accomplish His plan through Moses (Exodus 4).
David grew up slinging stones against trees, fence posts, and any other target he could find as he watched his father’s flocks. So what did the Lord utilize in David’s life to slay a giant? A simple sling and a few stones (1 Samuel 17:49).
I think of Peter and Andrew. What was in their hands when the Lord called them for service? They were casting fishing nets into the sea. Thus, Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (see Matthew 4:19).
Among five thousand hungry people on the hillside was a little boy. What did he have in his hand? Five loaves and two fish - which the Lord used to feed the entire crowd (John 6:9).
I am reminded of the Apostle Paul. What was in his hand when he was converted? A pen, for he was a scholar whose command of the Greek language exceeded every other scholar in history. So what did God use most powerfully in Paul’s life? A pen, as Paul authored one epistle after another.
Gang, the Lord can use whatever skills, interests, or abilities you have. He will use whatever is in your hand for His glory. He will give you insights and open doors. Great things will take place through you. The kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of selfishness, and the kingdom of greed will be beaten back as you take whatever ox goad is in your life and say, “Lord, use it for Your glory.”