Judges 3:31 “After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.”
One of the judges, the saviors of Israel, that we learn about in the book of Judges is Shamgar. We know very little about him, for his name appears only in the verse above from Judges 3 and in one other verse, Judges 5:6. So, is there a shadow of our Savior Jesus in this Old Testament judge? Well, let’s dissect what this verse tells us.
First, look at his name – Shamgar. The word means “sword.” And then, we are told that Shamgar was the son of Anath, a name that means “answer.” Finally, the weapon that he used was an oxgoad, a word derived from the word that means “teach,” as when we “goad” someone on by our words. The dictionary definition of the word is “to provoke or annoy (someone) so as to stimulate some action or reaction.” So, what in these words might point to Jesus?
Well, for one, we know that the Word of God, which is one of the names of Jesus given to us in John 1:1, is also known as the “Sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). It is one of the weapons God has given us to “stand against the wiles of (our greatest spiritual enemy) the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). The great power of the Word of God is symbolized for us in Revelation 1:16 as Jesus is pictured as one from whose mouth came a “sharp two-edged sword.” It was by the Word of God that Jesus resisted the devil in His temptation in the wilderness. As I heard pastor Tony Evans say some time ago, one of the reasons Christians memorize Bible verses is so that we might be equipped to do Bible studies with the devil. I like that, because for every lie the devil might throw at us in his attempts to deceive us, discourage us, and terrify us, there is an answer – which brings us to the name Anath, which means just that.
It’s as Jesus told His disciples as He prepared them to face the opposition that would come their way as they followed Him, “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say (Luke 12:11-12).” The Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, is the answer to every difficulty we face. This reminds me of an adult Sunday School class that I was teaching many years ago. As part of one lesson, I asked the class how they would define Christianity in just a few words. One of the women in the class said this: “It’s the answer.” What a wonderful summary of the faith which I never forgot.
And finally, the word oxgoad, or “goad,” which is from the root word “to teach.” Again, what a wonderful description of the Word of God, which the Spirit of God uses to teach us how to know God, how to follow Him, and how to live in victory in the face of all the physical and spiritual forces that might oppose us. As David prayed to the Lord in Psalm 25:5, so we should pray, “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” And then this from Psalm 51:12-13, a Psalm of repentance, also from David, as He leans on the promises of God’s forgiveness that are found in His Word, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” For you see, we have been given the gift of forgiveness and faith in the Son of God. And that gift came to us by way of hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). It is then, that wonderfully, God can use us to teach others the wonderful message of the gospel, so that they in turn can be saved.
Shamgar, son of Anath, who used an oxgoad: what a beautiful picture of our Savior, Who with His sharp two-edged sword has made a way for deliverance from the spiritual enemy who once enslaved us, and thereby has provided a way of salvation for the world.