One sentence is all that was recorded about his time as a leader.
And one comment about his era of leadership was made later by another leader. The third recorded Judge in Israel’s history barely gets a mention. This makes me wonder what this man Shamgar must have been like.
Regardless of the impact of his leadership, he still possessed something that qualified him to be a leader. However, his story may raise more questions than answers. Let’s first take a look at what it was that got him to the position of Judge of Israel.
The record of his rule goes like this,
“After him (Ehud) was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an ox goad, and he also saved Israel.”
Shamgar was obviously a man of great passion and conviction. Some translations point out that this killing of 600 Philistines was done single-handedly. Shamgar must have had an incredible drive in order to have such a relentless pursuit.
I’ve served a four-year term in the United States Marine Corps, and we learned and practiced quite a bit of hand-to-hand combat. Trust me when I say that I would have rather used my rifle from a few hundred yards away to fight in combat, rather than have to go into hand-to-hand combat with an ox goad…
Taking on 10 people this way would have been a pretty daunting and tiring task. It would have been super-human in order to take on 20-25 people this way. But SIX-HUNDRED?! This is an absolutely amazing amount of people to fight against in hand-to-hand combat!
One thing that’s for sure is that he would have had to tap into a source of strength that was way bigger than his own. And to continue this horrifying task for this long would have required not only strength, but also passion and drive to accomplish whatever needed to be done in order to reach the goal.
Too often when things get difficult for us, we give up and wonder if it’s the right thing for us to be doing. I believe that once you have the vision, you must have a relentless pursuit of that vision, knocking down whatever walls may get in your way.
This means that you may have to overcome some tasks that seem bigger than you can handle, but if you are sure about your goals, then giving up should not be an option. Shamgar was set on liberating Israel, and nothing was going to get in his way.
This example may have been Shamgar’s biggest strength, but let’s look at his weaknesses here as well. The later comment about Shamgar was made by the Judge that came after him. Deborah said,
“In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways.”
Even though this statement is not made about Shamgar directly, I think says something about his leadership. Most of all, I think that this says something about how he involved other people. Scripture doesn’t say anything one way or another, but one thing is missing here that’s typically said about other leaders. Nothing is said about him rallying people together to fight the battle with him. We know that he single-handedly took on and beat 600 enemy fighters, and that may have been the problem. Let me explain…
First of all the later comment by Deborah says that the highways were abandoned, and that travelers basically took the backstreets. One major reason for this would be that they had a fear of being attacked while out there on the road. This would indicate that the roads were still full of danger and potential attackers.
Why would this be if there was such a strong and fearsome leader in charge?
Well, this would be the case if the leader was the only one that was to be feared. It’s quite possible that traveling was dangerous because enemy attackers were not afraid of anyone but Shamgar, and as long as he wasn’t out there, then they were okay.
So one of the greatest faults of Shamgar was that he kept the mission to himself.
We can ask lots of questions about this leader and why he did things the way he did, but the bottom line is that he should be respected for his relentless pursuit of the vision, but should also be criticized for (possibly) not involving other people in helping him to accomplish it.
Questions to consider:
- What challenges are you facing right now that you just need to power through?
- Be honest with yourself. Are you giving up too easily on some issues?
- Define what is most important to you, and push with everything that you have to accomplish that vision?
- But on the other side, how can you avoid the (perceived) mistakes of Shamgar?
- Who can you involve in order to help you accomplish that vision?
- How can you get more people involved and spread the vision?
- What is at stake that you can loose if you don’t share involvement with the vision?
See more from the management by God series!