Jump Start # 3482
Judges 3:31 “After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel.”
Shamgar has the distinction of being the one-verse judge. His story is tucked in behind Ehud and before Deborah. He is mentioned later, again in one verse, in Judges five. To the point, is Shamgar’s verse. We know his father’s name, Anath. We know what Shamgar did. He killed six hundred Philistines. We know how he did it. He used an oxgoad. We know the results, he saved Israel.
Samson’s story, as well as Gideon’s, covers multiple chapters. Shamgar, is the one verse judge. With many of the judges, we are told how long they brought peace to Israel. For Ehud, it was 80 years. During Deborah’s time, there was peace for 40 years. But for our one verse judge, Shamgar, we are not told.
There are some things to learn about a one verse judge.
First, God provides what we need to become righteous, know Him and live faithfully all of our lives. We’d love to have more details. Was Shamgar married? Where did he live? What did he do before he was a judge? Was it hard fighting the Philistines? Where did the battle take place? Where did he get the oxgoad? How long did he rule after this? Did the people like him? Was he faithful to God?
We don’t have the answers to those questions. They are known only to God. He easily could have been omitted and by our times, completely unknown to us. But, even with one verse, God wanted us to know this part of Israel’s history.
When the details are left out, we must be careful that we don’t start filling in the pieces with our own speculations and ideas. What sounds good to us may not be what the true story is. I read an account someone wrote about the prodigal son. It listed the name of the prodigal, which the Bible doesn’t do. It talked about his mother, which the Bible doesn’t do. It even indicated the age and occupation of the father, which the Bible doesn’t do. When God leaves the details out, we must do the same. Don’t go guessing.
Second, the one verse judge reminds us that God knows the complete story. While many may want pages written about us, I like the one sentence description. It’s like the few words one finds on a tombstone. There is so much that goes on in our lives that no one will ever know. The struggles you face. The battles you fight. The good that you do. The prayers that you have prayed. The love you have in your heart. In our social culture of sharing everything, even when one goes to the store, what they are eating, the one sentence, one verse judge is a great reminder to us. God knows and that’s all that matters. I love reading biographies of early restoration preachers. But even with that, there is so much that no one understands. And, maybe that’s the point. No one has to understand, nor does anyone need to understand. We preachers can do well to think about that. We can cry and moan that no one understands our life. On call all the time. Working through the holidays. Little benefits. Yet, do we understand what the nurse goes through? Or, the mechanic? Or, the engineer? And, more than that, do we need to understand that? God does. Each of us must do what we can and maybe no one else understands what we go through. God does.
A one-verse judge. How about a one-sentence preacher. A one-sentence mom. A one-sentence grandfather. God knows and that’s all that matters.
Third, this one verse judge is like looking through a window. It’s a moment in time. It’s that moment that God wanted us to know. It’s that moment that was important. A battle took place against the enemy and God’s servant was victorious. Our fellowship can be similar to that. We see each other in moments of time. We do not know what all goes through the hearts of our church family. We see them at services. They smile. We chit-chat for a moment. But much so often, what they struggle with, so few know. What they battle, no one knows. Their pains, physically and emotionally are not shared with others.
Now, some are bothered by such things. They want our lives to be an open book for any to read. Some use social media to detail all the details. But, there could be a greater lesson here for us. You have struggles. So do I. You have good days, so do I. You have your battles. I have my battles. You have things that bother you. I have things that bother me. We could get together and write all these things on paper and share them with each other, but truth be, most are private and wouldn’t want that done. We could gather together and have a big cry session and talk about how tough life is for each of us. But maybe the one verse judge reminds us that somethings need to be just between me and God. I’m on a journey and so are you. Prayers and Scriptures is what keeps us going. We can declare, “No one understands what I’m dealing with.” And, that may be true. However, God does. And, no one can help you more than the Lord does.
One verse judge. Sure is a lot there for simply one verse.