Judges 3:31 – Just Another Brick in the Garden Walkway

Posted: August 8, 2017 in 07-Judges
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Judges 3:31
Shagmar Becomes Israel’s Judge

Have you ever wondered why some passages are in the Bible? That’s me today. Why is there this one-liner about Shagmar inserted in here between the more developed stories of Ehud and Deborah? It’s like mentioning a billboard that you say on a trip between two adventures of your life and not really saying anything other than that you saw the billboard. In the male world, we just give the bare minimum of facts. In the female world, you get all the background information like the colors and the smells and what people were wearing and what their facial expressions, what the air temperature was, how humid it was, all to paint a complete picture of what the experience was like not just what happened. This one-verse passage is like a man telling a story.

What is the significance of it though? It is kind of like the class gardens that you find at Clemson University, one of my favorite places in the world. Around campus, you will find various gardens that were funded by and built by a graduating class or a group of graduating classes from the university. As you walk along the bricked walkways you noticed that the individual bricks are embossed with the name or names of the individual classmates who contributed to the building of the garden. These are beautiful places for observing the beauty of nature and the beauty of the campus of Clemson. But if it were not for each contribution represented by the names embossed on each brick, this particular garden that you are walking through would not be possible. Each brick plays its role. Each brick is necessary for the beauty of the entire garden. The garden would not be complete without each brick in the garden. Shagmar’s story is the same way.

Maybe, he was not a judge that long. Maybe, his reign as judge was not that eventful or memorable. Maybe, he was like Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys. He had one great season and parlayed a lucrative but mediocre career out of it. Maybe, Shagmar’s story is one where his military exploits swept him into office as judge but as a judge he did not handle it well or he was just average. Maybe, it was just a time where he had to maintain. Maybe he was a Gerald Ford as President. A president that steered the ship back into navigable waters and that was it. Nothing eventful but very necessary like each brick in the gardens at Clemson.

31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an ox goad. He too saved Israel.

In this passage, we see that to kill 600 Philistines with an ox goad was quite a feat. An ox goad was a long stick with a small flat piece of iron on one end and a sharp point on the other. The sharp side was used to drive the oxen during times of plowing, and the flat end was used to clean mud off the plow. In times of crisis, they could have easily been used as spears. Ox goads are still used in the Middle East today. Aside from this explanation being longer than the passage itself, we know little else about Shagmar, other than he was a judge that led Israel.

We do not have to be memorable figures to be used by God. We may not get whole chapters or books of the Bible written about. We may not be the preacher up on stage. We may not be the megachurch preacher known nationally. We may not be Billy Graham known the world over. We may just be a brick in the path of a garden walkway. But just because we are not internationally, nationally, regionally, or even locally famous Christ-followers, we are necessary. We are the silent warriors of the faith. We are fathers raising our kids up right in the ways of the Lord. We are mothers nurturing our children so that they will know unconditional love, the love that Jesus Christ has for us. We are volunteers on Sunday at church with no major role. We are the quiet ones who get the job of the kingdom done. We are the video switcher on Sundays’ internet broadcast of the church service. It is a such a completely necessary job but yet it goes virtually unnoticed. We are useful to the kingdom. And God notices even if man does not. If we are following the Lord for the celebrity of it, we will drop away soon. But if we are in it to give glory to God, give thanksgiving to Him who has saved us, to spread the gospel, we don’t really care who here on earth notices. We know that every brick in the garden is important. Every step in the pathway through the garden must be filled with an embossed brick with our name on it that not everybody is going to notice. But we will be noticed by God when we our journey is done. When we have lived for Him and not for popularity. When we have lived for vertical approval from God and not horizontal approval from people, we will hear “well done, my good and faithful servant!” That’s all that really matters, my friends! Not how much pub we get here on earth. Our real audience is an audience of One. The One. He notices the names on every brick in the garden, the garden filled with the names of those who lived for Him throughout human history. He knows your name. He knows who you are. He knows how much you love Him. He will know your name on your personal day that your arrive at judgment. He will call you by your name, and make you famous in heaven. He will say this one is mine.

Amen and Amen.

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