For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

3:1.  “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan;”

From this verse we learn that there was a great variety of the enemy left in the land, reminding us that the spiritual foes confronting us, working often through our own old nature, and who are represented by Israel’s literal enemies, are equally numerous and varied.  And as noted already, the later generations which had not experienced the seven years of warfare under Joshua, represent those generations of believers who have lived after the Apostolic age.

3:2.  “Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;”

In its being necessary for these later generations to learn war, we are being taught that the enemies against whom we fight, have been defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ, but they are not yet destroyed.  They will return again and again, to continue the conflict until the day when we are taken home to heaven.  Nor is there a time when the believer is more vulnerable than just after a spiritual battle from which he has emerged the victor, no time when it is more necessary for him to be on his guard, for he who directs the enemy is all too familiar with the human tendency to rest on past victories.  We may win some battles, but the war won’t be over until we are home in heaven.  Many a seeming dead foe has risen up to deal a deadly wound. 

3:3.  “Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath.”

The Philistines, meaning wallowing, represent apostate Christianity, just as Babylon represents false religion in general.  Like the great apostate system Rome, that has come to be virtually synonymous with Christianity, so have the Philistines left their imprint on the land of Canaan: the name Palestine is derived from Philistine.  A further clue to the spiritual significance of the Philistine is the meaning wallowing, for this is the very same word used in 2 Pe 2:22 in reference to apostates, “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”  The dog and the pig here clearly represent those, who having known the truth, have rejected it.  The dog’s returning to what he had vomited, pictures the apostate returning to the spiritual food on which he had lived prior to his professed, but spurious conversion.  The pig, returned to wallowing in the mire, pictures the apostate’s return to his old sinful lifestyle.

Nor should we overlook the number of them, for five is the Biblical number of responsibility.  Whatever else we may be intended to learn from this, one lesson at least is clear: we are responsible to keep ourselves separate from the apostate system represented by the Philistines, as we are also to repel every attempt it makes to impose its ways upon us.  That it has achieved phenomenal success in that very activity is all too apparent in the state of the professing church today.  It is largely “Philistine” in character and practice.

Canaanite, meaning trafficker, is a foe in whom we see symbolically an evil very apparent in the professing church: trafficking in spiritual things: hireling clergy handling the Word for money; false teachers using the Word to win followers, and acquire power and wealth; choirs and musicians seeking money or fame or both; the organizers of a host of money-raising schemes; professional counselors making gain of the troubles of others....  Only blind eyes will fail to see the extent to which the professing church has become the market place of the spiritual Canaanite, the trafficker. 

The temple from which the Lord expelled the money changers and merchants, furnishes a little picture of what the professing church is today.  It is little more than a mart masquerading as a church, and it is significant that that was the condition in Israel as her national existence was about to end.  This present condition of the Church is just another indication that the age is almost ended, for as noted already, Israel’s history is but the symbolic prewritten history of the professing church, but whereas the Lord expelled the illicit traders, He will remove the true believers at the Rapture, leaving behind the “traders,” “the Canaanites,” the great apostate harlot system, to be destroyed in the Tribulation.

Sidon means hunting, but it is significant that the alternate spelling Zidon means a hunting and also a fishery.  Sidon (Zidon) was a powerful city on the coast of Palestine (Canaan), and, like all the other places in Canaan, points to a characteristic of the Church.  Its proximity to the sea reminds us that the Church is also a “city” dwelling spiritually “by the sea,” for the sea is the symbol of unconverted humanity, “The wicked are like the troubled sea....” (Isa 57:20), and she is responsible to “fish” for souls in that great “sea” (Mk 1:17).  Ominously the spelling here, however, is Sidon, having but the one meaning, hunting, which never has a good connotation in Scripture.  Nimrod, the evil founder of Babylon was a hunter.  The hunter and the shepherd stand in complete contrast.  The one destroys life; the other preserves it.  Christ is the good Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep.  Satan is the “hunter,” the malignant spirit who hunts for men’s souls to destroy them.

The professing church has become a place that is characterized far more by spiritual “hunting” than by “fishing.”  Very little “fishing” is done any more.  The professing church, become little more than a religious social club, has become a spiritual “Sidon,” providing  a place in which Satan hunts very successfully.  Unbelievers received into church fellowship, and never warned of the awful danger of their unsaved state, but lulled into a false sense of security, hurry on to hell by means of a morality which they mistake for conversion.

It is instructive to note that the name Sidon is the one first used in Scripture, Ge 10:15, the name Zidon not appearing until Ge 49:13.  In keeping with the principle that a Biblical change of name always indicates a change of state, the lesson being taught in the meanings of the later name of this city a hunting: fishery, is that it isn’t until we have had a new birth that we can become “fishers of men.”  In our unconverted state, portrayed in the name Sidon hunting, we were incapable of spiritual “fishing.”  We could deal only in what is associated with hunting: death.  The double meaning of Zidon reminds us, however, that even as believers we may still deal in death, helping Satan with his deadly spiritual “hunting” when we live carnally, and neglect to maintain an effective witness in the Gospel.

“... and the Hivites.”  The name means showers of life: livers.  They represent the religious, moral, but unconverted who would presume to show others how to live in order to get to heaven, even though they themselves are on the way to hell, but are ignorant of that fact.  There are many of these “Hivites” in the professing church today, there amongst God’s people because careless shepherds never bothered to examine their credentials when they first came seeking fellowship.  Such individuals are the spiritual counterparts of the Hivites spared by Israel, and allowed to live in their midst.

These Hivites, however, are further designated as being those “that dwelt in mount Lebanon....”  Lebanon means whiteness, the color of righteousness, but its being located in the north, the direction that speaks of mere natural intelligence rather than faith, enhances the symbolic picture, for this is almost invariably the character of the spiritual “Hivite” - he is marked by a measure of morality, and a head knowledge of Scripture, that would put some genuine believers to shame.

“... from mount Baal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath.”  Baal means lord, and Hermon, devoted: banned, but since Baal is invariably associated with the false gods of Canaan, the whole name has an evil connotation.  It speaks clearly of that which is banned by God, and devoted to destruction, an interpretation reinforced by the meaning of Hamath, enclosure of wrath.  No language could be clearer.  What is represented by these Hivites is that combination of mere head knowledge of Scripture, combined with an outward morality, which passes very easily for genuine faith, for the new life in Christ.  Few will deny that it is an all too accurate picture of the professing church today.

3:4.  “And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.”

As those literal foes were left to test whether the succeeding generations of Israel would be obedient, so have their spiritual counterparts been left to test whether we will be obedient.  Her sad history, and her present sorry state declare all too clearly that the professing church has followed in the footsteps of disobedient Israel.

3:5.  “And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:”

The disobedience that failed to exterminate those Canaanites resulted in Israel’s having to dwell among them.  This too discloses the present state of the professing church, because it is our disobedience that has caused us to “dwell among” those from whom we have been commanded to keep ourselves separate.  As has been noted already, had Israel obeyed God, many of the enemy would have been slain, and the remainder would have fled the land, so that while the survivors might have continued to live in the adjoining countries, they would not have been in Canaan, and Israel would not have been compelled to “dwell among” them. 

Israel’s disobedience, however, has been duplicated in the professing church.  We have failed to maintain the Divinely commanded separation from an evil world, so that it dwells in our very midst instead of the distant place it ought to occupy.  We do well to note that in the early days of the Apostolic age, that separation was maintained, so that we read concerning the unconverted, “And of the rest durst no man join himself to them (the believers)” (Ac 5:13).

In the days of Joshua it was the sword that compelled the separation, and in the early Apostolic age it was the “sword of the Spirit” (the Word of God) obeyed and preached that compelled it.  The lack of separation today is because we do not use that sword: the Word is neither preached nor obeyed.  On the contrary, we have sheathed the sword, and not only gone into the world ourselves, but have invited the world into the church.  Like disobedient Israel in the era of the Judges, we dwell “among the Canaanites....” and they have proved to be what God said they would be, thorns in our sides (2:3).  That metaphor is ominously significant, for thorns are the sign of the curse, see Ge 3:18.  Those spared Canaanites were a curse to Israel, and what they represent is no less a curse to the professing church.  It is instructive to note also that God said they would be thorns in their eyes as well (Nu 33:55; Jos 23:13).  A blinded Israel lost the ability to distinguish right from wrong, and her sorry history reveals how quickly that blindness came.  A similarly blinded professing church testifies to the accuracy of the type.

Having noted already that the Canaanites represent those who traffick in spiritual things, and having noted the spiritual application, there is no need to dwell on it further here.

The next foe mentioned is the Hittites, meaning terror.  The spiritual significance of this isn’t difficult to discern.  They represent fear, and it is scarcely necessary to mention what a formidable foe this is.  We read in Pr 29:25, “The fear of man bringeth a snare....”  That fear has silenced many a testimony, stopped many a work for God, and brought eternal loss to the one who feared man more than he feared God.  The effective weapon against the fear which the Hittite represents is to have a wholesome fear of God, for we read that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Pr 9:10).

The next enemy is the Amorite, meaning a sayer.  This foe represents what is all too prevalent in the professing church: a great deal of talk that isn’t backed up with works.  It is very easy to talk Christianity, much more difficult to live it.  It is easy to sit in a company of Christians and sing about going out with the Gospel, about not withholding a mite of our money, about placing our all on the altar, and a hundred other noble aspirations: it is much more difficult to put even one of them into practice.  The extent to which the “Amorite” has been permitted to remain ensconced in a sphere from which he should be expelled, is demonstrated all too conclusively in the disparity between our speech and our actions.

“... and the Perizzites”  Perizzite means rustic, with squatter as a possible second meaning.

As descriptive of a person, as here, it implies lack of sophistication or learning, uncouthness, boorishness.  In 2 Pe 1:5 believers are exhorted, “... add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge”; and in 2 Pe 3:18, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  God sets no premium on ignorance, and the believer who elects to remain a spiritual “rustic” by neglecting to study the Scriptures, is allowing the “Perizzite” to retain possession of what God intends to be possessed by faith.

The second meaning is squatter, i.e., “one who settles on land without title, right, or payment of rent.”  In this case the spiritual lesson of the Perizzite is particularly solemn.  In Mt 7:22 the Lord warns, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

There are many today professing to be Christians, who are in reality spiritual Perizzites: they are spiritual “squatters” who have no right to the position they have assumed, for the simple reason that they have never been born again through faith in Christ.  For one who can’t look back to a time when, and a place where he passed from death to life spiritually by accepting Christ as his personal Savior, there is very real danger that he is a spiritual Perizzite - one claiming to be a believer, but without ever having been born again.  No one has “always believed in Christ,” nor does the Bible know anything of “gradually becoming a believer.”  There may be a long period of conviction: days, weeks, even months of spiritual struggle leading up to conversion, but conversion itself occurs in an instant.  The decision to accept Christ is made in a second, and it is an experience no believer will ever forget.

The Hivites, meaning showers of life: livers,  were the third enemy on the list.  In Ro 10:9-10 it is written, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” 

God links faith in the heart with confession of the lips.  Satan, however, says, Live your Christianity, don’t talk it.  Let people see by the way you live that you are a Christian, and on the surface this seems very plausible.  If there has been no verbal confession there can be no charge of hypocrisy.  But God says there must be confession of the lips as well as the faith in the heart, and he says it for a very good reason.  Those who observe my moral rectitude, without hearing also my confession of faith in Christ as my Savior, are likely to conclude that a moral life is all that is needed to take them to heaven.  The believer who has nothing to show but morality divorced from verbal confession, is advertising the sorry truth that the Hivite remains in control of the inheritance in Canaan.

Jebusite means he will be trodden down.  The name is derived from Jebus, the aboriginal name of Jerusalem, and applies to the original inhabitants of that city.  Since, however, Jerusalem meaning dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace, represents the human heart, which can know no peace apart from Christ’s reigning there as Lord, the spiritual lesson isn’t difficult to read.  The new birth sees man’s heart pass from the dominion of Satan to that of Christ.  Under the control of the old master it was governed by fleshly lusts, and it knew no peace.  The spiritual lesson being taught in God’s commanding the expulsion of the Jebusites is that no man can serve two masters.  If Satan is left in control, peace will be trodden down, but if Christ is given control, fleshly lusts will be trodden down.  To allow fleshly lusts to govern the life is to disobey God and leave the Jebusite in control, with the result that we will be kept out of the enjoyment of the peace which Christ wants every believer to possess.

3:6.  “And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.”

God had commanded Israel to exterminate the Canaanites, so that this intermarrying went beyond mere dereliction: it was active rebellion that resulted in idolatry.  We are missing the point if we fail to see that this is but a picture of what the professing church has done, for in the marriage of Israelite with Canaanite we see pictured all too clearly the abandonment of that separation from the world which God has enjoined upon His people today, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Co 6:14).  As noted already, the professing church for the most part has become simply a mixed multitude in which the genuine believers are frequently outnumbered by the unbelievers in their midst.  And the result has been exactly the same as in Israel: the church has turned to idolatry.  Money, pleasure, fame, ease, education, and a host of other gods are worshiped, while the worship of God has degenerated into an empty ritual divorced from spiritual intelligence.  The bulk of professing  Christians today don’t even know the significance of the ritual in which they engage.

3:7.  “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves.”

The evil began with their forgetting Jehovah, and the pattern remains the same to this day.  The terrible state of the professing church is the direct result of forgetting God, the first step of departure being failure to read and study His Word, and to continue in prayer.  It is instructive that one of the first commandments given Joshua related to the reading and study of Scripture, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Jos 1:8).  Our success is no less dependent on the study of, and meditation upon Scripture.  A Scripturally illiterate Christendom shouldn’t wonder that it groans under chastisement.  Blessing is promised only to the obedient, and there can’t be obedience where there isn’t knowledge.  We do well to remember the words of the Psalmist, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Ps 103:2).

The result of Israel’s forgetting God was that they turned to worship idols.  The spirit of man must express itself in worship, if not of God, then of an idol.

3:8.  “Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim eight years.”

The anger of the Lord is no less hot or vehement against the professing church today, and for the same reason.  She too has forgotten Him, and turned to idols.

Chushan-rishathaim means blackness of double wickedness, and there can be little question that he is a figure or type of Satan.  He who will not serve God must serve the devil.  Confirmation of his being a type of Satan appears to be given by the fact that the realm over which he ruled was Mesopotamia, meaning exalted, and representing pride, the very sin that brought about Lucifer’s downfall originally.

God’s giving his rebellious people into the hand of this evil Mesopotamian king is written to warn us that he who continues in rebellion exposes himself to the possibility of being delivered into the hand of Satan, note for example, 1 Co 5:5, in regard to the fornicator in the Corinthian assembly, “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”  See also 1 Tim 1:20.  It is a fearful thing for a believer to walk in such disobedience that God is compelled to deliver him into the hand of Satan.  (This is not to be construed as implying the possibility of losing one’s salvation: it doesn’t.  Once saved, a man can never be lost).

There is a double implication in the eight-year duration of the servitude, for eight is the Biblical number of a new beginning.  First, this was a new experience for Israel, but second, the end of those years saw a deliverer raised up to bring them again into liberty, to give them a new beginning, as it were.

3:9.  “And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.”

We have noted that Othniel appears to have been Caleb’s younger brother, and that Kenaz seems to have been the grandfather of both; and as has also been noted, this deliverer, the first of the judges, is introduced to us first in Jos 15:17 in connection with the capture of Debir an oracle (formerly Kirjath-Sepher city of the book).  As a reward for taking Kirjath-Sepher, Caleb gave Othniel his daughter Achsah to tinkle or anklet as his wife.  She is clearly a type of the Church, the tinkling ankle ornament speaking of testimony, just as did the golden bells on the hem of the robe of Israel’s high priest.

The spiritual significance of these three is easily read.  Caleb a dog: whole-hearted represents those who, with whole-hearted zeal, seek God’s glory, being willing to take the lowest place themselves.  The meaning of Othniel’s name declares him to be a type of all who witness fearlessly for Christ, and the typical picture is completed by his being joined to this woman (speaking of submission) whose name speaks also of testimony or witness, for the foot (symbol of the walk or manner of life) adorned with this anklet of tinkling bells, speaks unmistakably of testimony.  His taking Kirjath-Sepher (clear type of the written Word) speaks of his representing those who make the Scriptures their guide for every circumstance of life, those Scriptures being no longer Kirjath-Sepher (simply a book, a piece of literature), but Debir an oracle (the Word of God).

Now, years later, this same Othniel is found still faithful, and is raised up to be the first of Israel’s judges.  Nor should we miss the significance of his having first conquered Kirjath-Sepher.  A mastery of, and obedience to, the Word of God is the foundation of all spiritual promotion.

It is to be noted also that the Judges are not only types of Christ, but also of elders.  Elders therefore ought to study this book carefully, for it has much to teach concerning their office and work.

Since, as has been noted already, Achsah represents testimony, it is not just coincidence that her husband’s name should also speak so clearly of testimony, nor is it mere chance that we should find these two mentioned in connection with the capture of Kirjath-sepher, which we have seen to represent the Word of God - to the natural man, merely a book, but to faith, the God-breathed Word.  He who takes possession of that Word, i.e., makes it his own, by obeying its precepts, can’t fail to be an effective witness for God. 

It doesn’t require any great stretch of the imagination to see in this man, whose name speaks clearly of witness for God, a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ Who was God’s perfect Witness, being Himself, “God ... manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim 3:16).  Nor is it difficult to see in his taking Kirjath-sepher from the hand of the enemy, a picture of Christ’s victory at Calvary. 

And his being given Achsah as his bride is a symbol easily deciphered: she represents the Church, the Bride given Christ by the Father as the reward of Calvary’s travail.  As was the bridegroom so was the bride.  His name, as we have seen already, is synonymous with testimony, and so is hers.  It is God’s desire that the spiritual reality should be the accurate fulfillment of the type.  As Achsah was the perfect complement of Othniel, so is the Church to be of Christ.  Her witness is to be the continuation of His.

Jg 1:12-15 is a virtual repetition of Jos 15:16-19, the repetition, very obviously, being to emphasize the importance which God attaches to this symbolic picture.  It is as though He has written it twice for the benefit of those who might have overlooked it the first time.  We do well to examine carefully what God has taken the trouble to set before us twice.

The beginning of Judges introduces us to a scene far different from that presented in Joshua.  With Joshua gone, Israel quickly lapsed into flagrant idolatry, so that instead of enjoying blessing, they languished under chastisement, and the type has been all too accurately fulfilled.  As Joshua bequeathed to Israel a vanquished Canaan which they had but to take and enjoy, so did the true Joshua, the Lord Jesus Christ, bequeath to men, a kingdom won from the hand of the enemy, a kingdom they had but to enter by faith and enjoy.  But as it was in the type so also is it in reality.  The professing church, instead of fulfilling the type of Achsah, has fulfilled instead the type of disobedient Israel - and with the same result: as the one groaned under the yoke of the foe they should have exterminated, so does the other.  The world that should have been subject to the Church, has become the master, and those who should have walked in the enjoyment of blessing, groan instead under Divine chastisement.

But God’s chastisements are meant to produce repentance.  As soon as Israel turned from her folly, and cried out to God, He heard her cry, and “... the Lord raised up a deliverer (savior) ... who delivered them, even Othniel....” (Jg 3:9).

The very same one who had fought to give them Canaan, is he who now rises up to deliver them from the bondage into which their sin had brought them.  The type is fulfilled in Christ.  He Who first secured our inheritance, is He Who lives today to deliver us from the bondage and misery into which our disobedience so often brings us, so that we might, even here on earth, walk in the enjoyment of all that has been secured for us by His victory at Calvary.

3:10.  “And the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the Lord delivered Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushan-rishathaim.”

Othniel, however, is not just a type of Christ, and of assembly elders: he is also a type of what any one of us might be if we are willing to yield to God the same obedience.  Each judge raised up to effect some measure of deliverance - even though that deliverance was only local - is meant to encourage us to effect similar deliverances in our own small sphere today.  How much such deliverers are needed is declared by the appalling state of the professing church.

The fact that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him reminds us that one of the differences between this present age and that of past ages is that today the Holy Spirit, once received, never departs from the believer.  He may be grieved and quenched, but He never ceases to remain in the genuine convert.

His going out to war continues to remind us that the Christian experience is one of warfare, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph 6:12).  Israel’s marriages with the Canaanites disclose the fact that she all too quickly lost sight of the true nature of those with whom she made those alliances: she ceased to see that they were enemies whose friendship would soon lead to her adopting Canaanitish ways, ways which would arouse God’s wrath against His disobedient people, no less than against the Canaanites.  The professing church has been guilty of the same blindness.  She has failed to see the evil of the world with which she has been so eager to ally herself, as she has failed also to see that that forbidden alliance must incur the wrath of a God Who will not bless disobedience, but Who must in faithfulness to His own nature punish the disobedient saint no less than the disobedient sinner.

Having considered the spiritual significance of the first half of this verse, we will look now at what God has to teach us in the record of Othniel’s defeat of this Mesopotamian king.

His name means blackness of double wickedness, and  his kingdom Mesopotamia exalted.  Scripture furnishes few clearer pictures of Satan, the evil prince of the realm of pride which Mesopotamia clearly represents.  Nor will any spiritual mind fail to see in Othniel’s victory over this evil king an OT picture of Christ’s victory over Satan at Calvary.  And just as this first of the Judges presented Israel with a vanquished foe, and an inheritance to be enjoyed, so has his great Antitype presented us with a vanquished Satan, and an inheritance to be enjoyed.

3:11.  “And the land had rest forty years.  And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.”

Forty is the number of testing, and as the next verse discloses, those forty years of rest served but to reveal the evil in the heart of Israel: she quickly reverted to the sin which had brought the original chastisement.  So, sadly, is it with most of us.  The blessings which should impel greater love and obedience, all too often beget forgetfulness, carelessness, sloth, and proud complacency.  Such is the perversity of the human heart, even in a believer, that except for the case of a few rare individuals, only adversity will nurture obedience.

3:12.  “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord.”

While the principle meaning of Eglon is a bull calf, it is also linked with that which is circular, and also with victuals or food.  Like every evil king, he is a type of Satan, while Moab, meaning from father: what father? from (her [the mother’s]) father, and incestuously begotten by Lot through his elder daughter, and having thus natural ties with Israel, represents mere profession associated with fleshly lusts.  The type is easily read.  Profession continues long after the heart has turned away from God, but it diminishes as the lusts of the flesh are more freely gratified, and the backslidden saint lies in bondage to those same lusts, powerless to free himself.

3:13.  “And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon, and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.”

Ammon tribal (peoplish, inbred) was descended from the son incestuously begotten by Lot through his younger daughter, Gn 19:38.  This illegal link with Israel has led some to see in Ammon the representative of false profession resulting from a mere intellectual acceptance of the historicity of Christ, but falling short of saving faith. 

Amalek people of lapping (or licking up) was a grandson of Esau, and therefore also having natural ties with Israel; but Esau is a type of the flesh in the unregenerate man, and Amalek very clearly portrays the deadly antagonism of the flesh against the Spirit, for example, he was the first to attack Israel after her deliverance from Egypt, but since that deliverance is a type of conversion, that attack is the typical presentation of the truth that the first attack against the new believer comes from the flesh within him, so that experience confirms the accuracy of the type.  That this warfare between the flesh and the spirit is lifelong is declared symbolically in the fact that God said He would have “war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Ge 17:16).

This continues to portray the bondage into which disobedience brings the careless saint.   The Holy Spirit quenched and grieved, can no longer carry on His ministry of enlightenment, so that the man is left to walk in the darkness of mere human intelligence, while the flesh finds increasing opportunity to manifest its antagonism to the Spirit.

The palm tree is a symbol of the obedient, and therefore spiritually prosperous believer, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree” (Ps 92:12).  Eglon’s capture of the city of palm trees is the symbolic declaration of the truth that the inevitable result of disobedience is the loss of righteousness and spiritual prosperity.  Significantly, Moab, Ammon, and Amalek all represent different aspects of the lusts of the flesh.  When the flesh rules, righteousness is lost.

3:14.  “So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.”

The factors of eighteen are 2 (number of witness or testimony), and 3 x 3 (number of resurrection), so that even though the bondage was long, it was meant, like all God’s chastisement, to bring repentance and “resurrection,” i.e., restoration to an obedient walk.

3:15.  “But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man left-handed: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon, the king of Moab.”

Ehud the deliverer, meaning I will give thanks: I will be praised: unifying is an unmistakable type of Christ; and Gera, meaning the cud: a grain: sojourning, is related to Gerar, which also means ruminating: sojourning (Abraham and Isaac both sojourned at Gerar); and Benjamin means son of the right hand. 

Ehud’s lineage has much to teach us.  Benjamin by the very meaning of his name speaks of the power that is linked to obedience.  All spiritual success begins with obedience. 

Gera speaks of rumination or meditation on the written Word.  (Note the requirements relative to clean animals: they were to be ruminants, i.e., cud-chewers, and they were to have cleft hoofs, the former speaking of meditation on the Word, the latter, of a separated walk.  They represent believers). 

Grain represents the Word, and reminds us that Christ was the grain of wheat which fell into the ground and died to bring life to all who would trust Him as Savior (Jn 12:24).  Sojourning reminds us that He left the glory of heaven to come down to sojourn on earth in order to redeem our souls by the shedding of His precious blood at Calvary.

Ehud’s name speaks of the praise or worship that is the inevitable result of an obedient life.  A man’s spiritual state is measured, not by his eloquence, or the amount of his service, but by his worship.  Since the right hand is the hand of power, his being left-han­ded speaks of that personal weakness that finds its strength in that very acknowledgement which leads it to seek power from God.  Recognition of personal weakness is the prerequisite of strength, for God has declared, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Co 12:9), so that Paul was led to exclaim, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Co 12:10). 

Ehud is a type of Christ as Son of Man, for as man, He took the place of servitude and weakness, and was totally dependent on the Holy Spirit.  Meditation on the Word of God marked His life.  He quoted it constantly, and lived by it.  He was the true Son of the right hand, because He was “left-handed” - He was weak in the sense that His own will was always subservient to that of the Father.  He delighted in doing only the Father’s will. 

Like all the judges, Ehud is also a type of what we should be.

“... by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon....”  As Ehud made himself the servant of Israel, so did Christ.  Victory lies in service.  See Christ’s words relative to taking the servant’s place (Mt 20:26-28).  In Ehud’s seeming submission to the evil Eglon who ruled over Israel by God’s permission, we see the obedience of Christ to the laws of the evil Caesar who ruled Israel during His lifetime.  We are to obey the civil authorities up to the point where that obedience makes us disobedient to God.

3:16.  “But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.”

That dagger is a type of the written Word (Heb 4:12).  “... of a cubit length....”  A cubit was a human measurement, from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, but the arm or hand speaks of service.  Christ’s service was according to the written Word.  Ours too must be according to that same Word. 

Raiment represents righteousness, so that its being under his raiment reminds us that obedience to the written Word was the foundation of Christ’s righteousness.  Only what is according to His Word is counted righteousness with God. 

Its being bound to his right thigh speaks of the walk or manner of life under the government of the Word.  The right side is the side of power.  The Lord’s life was lived victoriously because He walked in obedience to the written Word, and therefore in the Spirit’s power.  If we would know anything of that power we too must walk in obedience to what God has written.

3:17.  “And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.”

As noted already, Eglon represents mere empty profession linked with the lusts of the flesh, and his gross fatness (presumably the result of gluttony and sloth) reminds us that profession and the indulgence of fleshly lusts, are always associated with the spiritual inertia portrayed by the literal inactivity which is almost invariably the twin of obesity.   

As Israel’s disobedience had brought them under the dominion of this Moabite king, so does our disobedience bring us under the dominion of the evils which Eglon represents.

3:18.  “And when he (Ehud) had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.” 

He alone would do the work that would slay the foe, and deliver Israel.  So was it with Christ.  He was alone when He slew the foe at Calvary.  We should note further that this is always God’s method.  He uses individuals.  We read nothing in Scripture of His either using organizations, or authorizing their formation, and for a very good reason: where you have an organization you have human management and the usurpation of the Holy Spirit’s prerogative to direct the activity of the servant.  That is a function God has not given to any man, not even the elders.

3:19.  “But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence.  And all that stood by him went out from him.”

Gilgal means rolling: a wheel, and as the place where the Israelites were circumcised after crossing the Jordan into Canaan, it represents the cutting off of the flesh; but since Calvary is the place where the flesh was effectually cut off for the believer in the crucifixion (cutting off) of Christ, Gilgal is an unmistakable type of Calvary. 

Of various suggestions that have been offered relative to “the quarries that were by Gilgal,” that of Arthur E. Cundall seems the most likely, his suggestion being that, “... they were the actual stones set up by Joshua to commemorate the miraculous crossing of the Jordan ... and thus were a well-known landmark.” 

Note that “... he (Ehud) turned again from the quarries (stones) that were by Gilgal.”  His coming there the first time to present the present (literally, the tribute) to Eglon, speaks of Christ’s coming to Calvary, where, it seemed that Satan, whom Eglon represents, did indeed receive the tribute due the conqueror: the life of Christ.  But this coming again to slay Eglon speaks of what actually happened at Calvary during the three hours of darkness.  Just as no man saw Ehud slay Eglon, neither did any man see Satan receive his death wound, when Christ, by submitting Himself to death conquered it and slew him who had the power of death, Satan (Heb 2:14).

“... I have a secret errand unto thee, O king....”  So was it in connection with Christ and Satan.  It was “secret” in that none but He knew it for the victory it was.  None but He knew that it was then that He slew Satan.  All others perceived it to be the defeat of God and the victory of Satan.  The bloated Eglon, enriched by the recently delivered tribute, must have seemed very far superior to the left-handed Benjamite who had delivered it.  So must Satan have seemed when Christ hung on the cross.  But things are not always what they seem.  Ehud was the victor; Eglon, the vanquished.  And so at Calvary: Christ was the Victor; Satan, the vanquished.  His activities today are his death throes.

3:20.  “And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlor, which he had for himself alone.  And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee.  And he arose out of his seat.” 

So in solitary splendor seemed Satan to sit that day when the true Ehud confronted him at Calvary.  As God’s message to Eglon, through Ehud, was one of death, so also was His message to Satan, through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Eglon’s rising out of his seat to receive his death wound, points to the activity of Satan at Calvary where he also received his death wound at the hand of Christ.

3:21.  “And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:”

As noted already, the left hand is the symbol of weakness, so that Ehud’s using his left hand is the symbolic demonstration of the truth so perfectly expressed by the poet relative to Christ’s mighty victory at Calvary, 

In weakness and defeat, He won the meed and crown;

Trod all His foes beneath His feet,

See also comments on verse 15.

If the left side speaks of weakness, the right speaks of power, so that Ehud’s taking the dagger from his right thigh reminds us that the Lord’s complete submission to the Father made available to Him all the power of heaven even while He hung on the cross.  Similar submission makes that same power available to us.  The dagger, as noted already, represents the written Word, nor should we ever forget the inherent power in that Word.

“... and thrust it into his belly.”  As it was by that dagger that the Moabite oppressor was slain, so was it by Him Who is the living Word portrayed in the written Word, that Satan was slain at Calvary.

3:22.  “And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.”

This speaks of the deadliness of the blow.  There could be no healing.  Nor would a second stroke be needed.  In this we see the perfection of the Lord’s work at Calvary, as it is written, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb 10:12).

“... and the dirt came out.”  Nowhere was the “dirt” that is in Satan more fully exposed than at Calvary.  He who is the epitome of evil could be destroyed only by Him Who is the Epitome of good.

3:23.  “Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlor upon him, and locked them.”

Christ similarly emerged from the gates of death, leaving behind Him a slain foe.  Eglon had formerly controlled those doors, but that control was now ended.  He would neither open nor shut those doors again.  So, as a result of Calvary’s work, has Satan been slain, and the keys he once held are now in the hands of Christ, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Re 1:18).

3:24.  “When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlor were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.”

The ignorance of Eglon’s servants relative to the fate of their master, foreshadows that of the unbelieving Jewish rulers relative to what happened at Calvary.  Neither did they suspect that their evil spiritual master, Satan, was for all practical purposes dead, having just received his death wound at the hand of Christ.

The term “covereth his feet,” incidentally, was a euphemism for obeying a call of nature.

3:25.  “And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlor; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.” 

This is the symbolic announcement of the completeness of Satan’s defeat.  He has been slain.  As we, according to God’s reckoning, live, so according also to God’s reckoning has Satan been slain.  This is not to say that there is no Satanic activity today.  There most certainly is.  But it is the activity of a mortally wounded foe. 

There is a special significance to its being said that Eglon “was fallen down dead on the earth,” for, as noted in other studies, the earth is the Biblical symbol of those who are genuine believers.  It is only for believers that Satan is dead, his power over them having been broken at Calvary.  For the rest of the world he is very much alive, and will continue to be “the prince of this world” (Jn 14:30), until that soon-coming day when Christ returning in power and glory, takes up the scepter and rules the world for God’s glory.

(In regard to the earth’s being a Scriptural symbol of genuine believers, we should note also, that “the land” is used as a symbol of those whose profession of faith is false, while “the ground” is used symbolically of those who make no profession because they are totally indifferent to spiritual things).

3:26.  “And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath the hairy she-goat.”

This passing beyond the boundary stones is the figure of Christ’s resurrection, and the effect of that resurrection relative to sinners.  He bears away the sins of those who trust Him as Savior.

The lesson of Seirath lies in its meaning the hairy she-goat.  In Nu 15:27 a she-goat is the offering to be offered for sins committed “through ignorance.”  Until a man learns the true meaning of Christ’s death, his sins are reckoned by God as being sins of ignorance, see also Ac 3:17, but having learned the way of salvation and having refused it, he then becomes guilty of wilful sin.  For such sins there was no offering.  Nothing can atone for the sins of the man who rejects Christ.  “There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment” (Heb 10:27).

Ehud’s coming as savior to Seirath is the symbolic announcement that Christ is available as Savior to all who will offer him to God as the “she-goat,” i.e., their sin offering for the sins committed when they were ignorant of Who He was.

Gilgal, picture of Calvary, was the boundary that ended the dominion of Moab (type of the lusts of the flesh).  Satan’s power ends at Calvary. 

3:27.  “And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.”

The trumpet speaks of testimony.  We are saved to be a testimony to Christ.  He who hears the “trumpet” is responsible to sound it to warn others.  We are to preach the Gospel. 

Ephraim means double ash-heap: I shall be doubly fruitful, and clearly it speaks of that fruitfulness that should spring from the new life in Christ; and the double fruitfulness reminds us that it consists not merely of the fruits of the Spirit (Ga 5:22), but of spiritual children - men and women led to the Savior. 

As noted many times in the course of our studies, the meaning double ash-heap in no way contradicts the other meaning I shall be doubly fruitful.  As the size of its ash-heap indicated the prosperity of the city, so is it in the spiritual realm.  Our spiritual prosperity will be in direct proportion to the degree that we are willing to cast upon the “ash-heap” the things that would hinder us in the heavenly race, as Paul has written, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Php 3:7-8).

Its being in the mountain of Ephraim reminds us that there can be no fruitfulness apart from “the mountain.”  A mountain is the symbol of a kingdom, and/or king.  The King is Christ.  A man must be “in Christ” (2 Co 5:17) before he can produce fruit for God.  But the mountain speaks also of separation.  Note for example that when Abraham was come into Canaan he began at Shechem shoulder, symbolic of the place of security and strength to which faith brings the believer.  Like the recovered sheep, he rests on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd.  He is eternally safe in the hand of Christ and of God.  But Abraham ended up on “a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord.”

The believer’s “mountain” is the place where he goes aside from all the distractions of the day, to read, meditate, study, and pray.  There can be no fruitfulness apart from “the mountain.”  That’s why Ephraim, the tribe that speaks of fruitfulness, was given a mountain portion in Canaan.

But we can’t spend all our time “on the mountain” living in separation from the world.  That time is meant to equip us to go back into the world to work for God, to produce fruit that will endure for eternity.

We should note that those who followed Ehud down from the mountain are described as Israelites, though they were in fact Ephraimites.  This is no accident.  Israel means he shall be prince of God: God’s fighter: may God strive (fight for him), but this speaks of obedience, for the princes, the king’s sons, God’s fighters, are subject to their father the king.  We are to be subject to the Father, as was Christ.

“... and he before them.”  Ehud is a type of Christ.  As the Ephraimites followed Ehud, so must we follow Christ.  Paul could exhort believers to follow him, but only because he followed Christ (1 Co 4:16; 11:1).

3:28.  “And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the Lord hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand.  And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.”

This is the public result of the victory won by Ehud in private.  Had Christ not won that victory, alone, in the darkness at Calvary, there would have been no deliverance for us, no victory to celebrate, no foe to chase.  Had Ehud not won that private victory, he could not have called upon others to follow him to Jordan or anywhere else.  The lesson is easily read.  Only as we overcome the enemy in private will there be public victory, and work done for God.  Only as we follow Christ, can we invite others to follow us. 

The same assurance of victory is given us.  It is to be noted, however, that while every foe has been vanquished by Christ, so that we stand as victors in every realm once controlled by the enemy, the emphasis here is upon one particular enemy, Moab, which we have seen to represent the lusts of the flesh.  There is no reason for any believer to live in bondage to the flesh.  Look for example at what is written in Ro 8:8, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God,” Ga 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Ga 5:17,24, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other.... And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts,” and 1 Jn 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”.  We, however, are responsible to keep the flesh where it is according to God’s reckoning, i.e., in the place of death.

There is special significance in its being said that they took the “fords” of Jordan.  Jordan represents death, and when Israel was brought into Canaan, it was through a Jordan in flood, but divided by the power of God, and there was only one crossing place: where the Ark was on the shoulders of the priests standing in the midst of the divided river.  That Ark is a type of Christ Who has annulled the power of death.  The fords, however, speak of another crossing place.  The Moabites had come in by “another way” (Jn 10:1-5; 14:6), but their having come into Canaan speaks of something of the flesh intruding into the believer’s life, or into the life of the assembly.  There are many “fords” over which the flesh crosses to bring the believer’s life into the same bondage as that into which Moab had brought Israel.

Ephraim, following Ehud, “took the fords of Jordan toward Moab.”  Only as we follow Christ will the “fords” be taken, and the flesh vanquished.  As we leave those places of easy access open to the flesh, it will use them to bring about our ruin.

“... and suffered not a man to pass over.”  The same vigilance should mark us in regard to the things of the flesh.  One Moabite allowed to cross had the power to injure Israel.  So is it with one sin tolerated in the life. 

3:29.  “And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valor; and there escaped not a man.”

The ten speaks of Divine government, and here represents obedience to that government in slaying these Moabites.  In spite of the power of the enemy “all lusty, and all men of valor,” Israel slew them.  No power can stand against the obedient believer. 

3:30.  “So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel.  And the land had rest fourscore years.” 

The long period of rest secured by this victory (the longest enjoyed during the era of the Judges) should encourage us to pursue the same victory in our warfare against the flesh; nor should we forget that not one Moabite was spared.  Not even the least activity of the flesh is to be spared.

Whether we view the eighty as “fourscore” or as eighty, there is a lesson to be learned from the factors of both.  Four is the number of testing, and twenty factorizes to 2 x 2 x 5, but since two is the number of witness or testimony, and five, of responsibility, the lesson is that victory over the flesh introduces us to a time of peace that is also a time that tests our obedience: will we fulfill our responsibility to remain obedient, so as to continue under God’s blessing? 

Eighty teaches almost the same lesson, but with the emphasis upon what eight represents: a new beginning.  Every victory against the flesh introduces us to a new beginning - the end of one battle becoming the basis for other and greater victories through which we will walk in the enjoyment of blessing.

3:31.  “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.”

The meaning of Shamgar is uncertain, but thought to mean the desolate dragged away; and the meaning of  Anath, though generally taken to mean afflicted: answered, seems more accurately to be related to the idea of singing, speaking, testifying.  

The lack of detail has led many, not only to assign this deliverer a place of lesser importance than he deserves, but to miss the valuable lessons being taught in this brief account. 

We have already noted that the Philistines  represent apostate Christianity, a fact which lends significance to the meaning of Shamgar’s name, for the lesson of this one-verse episode is clearly related to the experience of the genuine believer living under the dominion of apostate Christianity, particularly as represented by the great harlot system masquerading as the true Church.  This has never ceased to be the situation relative to true believers: they have always had to exist as a despised and hated minority in the midst of the professing, but unbelieving mass.  They who constitute the true Church have had to live in the shadow of the great religious counterfeit.  In this respect Israel and the Church are identical.  In the one as in the other, there has always been a believing remnant within the professing, but faithless mass.

The fact of Shamgar’s name being of Hurrian/Hitti­te origin has led some to conclude that he was not an Israelite, a conclusion they believe to be supported by his being described as “the son of Anath,” for Anath, the sister of Baal, was the Canaanite goddess of sex and war.  Others, however, have pointed out that his name may indicate nothing more than Hurrian or Hittite influence on his parents, while Anath may much more likely relate, not to the Canaanite goddess, but to the town of Beth-anath.  It is very unlikely that he was anything but an Israelite.

Anath, afflicted: answered, points to the truth that while the believing remnant have also been afflicted, they have also known the answer or response of God to their cry of supplication.  That cry is not recorded here, but there can be little doubt that the Philistine oppression evoked it.  The other meanings, singing, speaking, testifying remind us that the believing remnant, whether in Israel or in the professing church, have also borne a joyful testimony to God’s love and faithfulness.

Since, as noted already, all of the judges are types of Christ, the application of all of this to Him is easily discerned.  The same uncertainty concerning His parentage existed in the minds of the Jews, and the aptness of the meaning of Anath scarcely needs comment: He was the One Who was afflicted above all others, and though it seemed that His desolate cry from the cross went unanswered, His resurrection furnished a far more effective answer than would His having been delivered from the cross.  As to His joy and testimony for God, we are reminded that His faithful witness, even unto the death of the cross, was impelled by love for His Father, and by the anticipated joy that would result from His death and resurrection, as it is written, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).

Six is the Biblical number of man and of incompleteness, so that Shamgar’s slaying six hundred of the enemy declares in symbol that Christ has effectively ended all the power of man in his natural opposition to God.  He has not only annulled the power of Satan, but of one of the devil’s most useful instruments: man in his natural fallen state. 

The number six, however, would also remind us that the full effect of Calvary’s victory won’t be experienced until we reach heaven.  Literally it reveals that not all the enemy were slain.  The type has been fulfilled in the experience of the Church.  Faith has enjoyed some victories, but the great false church still rules Christendom, and will until the end of the Tribulation.  This is announced symbolically in that it wasn’t till the reign of David that the Philistines were finally destroyed.  The best we can hope for is to be like Shamgar - recognize that no matter how plausible the disguise of her religious facade, that great harlot system is the enemy of faith.  We are to destroy whenever possible what Philistinism represents: empty profession without faith in Christ, yet masquerading as the true church.

His weapon, an ox goad, is unique.  It consisted of a pole 8 to 10 feet long, having a pointed metal spike at one end, and a flat blade at the other, the former to prod the oxen, and the latter to scrape accumulated earth from the plowshare. 

Since all of this points to activity connected with plowing and sowing, the spiritual lesson isn’t difficult to read.  It has to do with the sowing of the good seed of the Gospel.  During the days of Saul, Philistine control of Israel was such that they were forbidden to possess any weapons, and so strict was the enemy’s repression that even agricultural implements had to be taken to the Philistines for sharpening (1 Sa 13:21).  Whether such conditions prevailed in the days of Shamgar, we aren’t told, though 5:8 would indicate that they did, but only blind eyes fail to see that the same conditions rule today.  The great false church exercises essentially the same control.  Her clergy, usurping the sole right to teach and preach, have so effectively stifled the development of spiritual gift, that virtually nothing may be done except what she approves.  The believer is under the oppressive hand of the “Philistine” - except where there is Shamgar-like faith and courage to use the “ox goad,” i.e., use the Word to “slay” the “Philistine,” to prod the reluctant physical members to activity, and to scrape away the earthly things that would impede the work of God.

“... he also delivered Israel.”  Others have pointed out that here again “Israel” is used, not to designate the whole nation, but a part.  Any one of us may be a “Shamgar.”  The “ox goad” can be as effective in our hands as in his to bring at least a measure of recovery, not to the Church at large, but in the sphere in which God has placed us.

[Judges 4]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough