“Ordinary instruments for extraordinary work”
During the 350-year period of the book of Judges God used 11 men and one woman to deliver the nation. Biblical heroes don’t come from human courage, ingenuity, or wisdom but from a faithful God who empowers His servants. When God goes to war, He chooses the most unlikely soldiers, hands them the most unusual weapons, and accomplishes through them the most unpredictable results. The world is looking for better methods, but God is looking for better people who understand their need for the power of the Holy Spirit. The third chapter of Judges records three such men, Othniel, Ehud and Shamgar.
First in verses 7-11we are read of Othniel who was placed in an area that means “double darkness”. According to verses 9-11 Othniel was a man with a solid family lineage, Caleb was his uncle thus he grew up in a hero’s home. Othniel was around 80 years old living in a nice valley without the enemy, living by two springs and enjoying the good life. Yet he was not content with his own peacefulness! He is the first man in the Bible where we are told the “spirit of the lord came upon him.” According to these verses he had proven ability, great courage, and was a man of personal faith. Yet with all of that the key to his usefulness is to be found in verse 10 where we are told the secret to Othniel’s victory was that, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him”.
Next in verses 12-30 we are introduced to Ehud who was used to deliver the nation after 18 years of bondage. King Eglon, who has the distinction of being the only man in the bible with the phrase after his name as being a “very fat man” was a very “heavy handed oppressor”. Into this scene comes Ehud, a south-paw from the tribe whose name means “son of my right hand”. Being left handed man was thought of as a curse. According to verse 15 Israel wasn’t thinking deliverance they were thinking appeasement as they were preparing food for king Eglon. But Ehud was preparing a two edge sword to slay the flesh. As a lefty no one suspected him capable of carrying out this assassination. What enabled Ehud to come close to Eglon was his handicap. In verses 27-30 we are told that not only did Ehud say, “Follow me” but He also told them why “For the Lord has delivered”. This was the longest sustained freedom during the 350 years of the Judges, 80 years.
Finally, in one verse, 31, we are told of Shamgar whose name means, “stranger” not a very heroic name. Based upon his name we know that he was not fully a Hebrew but ½ Canaanite. His father’s name was also Canaanite so he was probably ½ Jewish and ½ Canaanite. Here is what we know: He was a rancher, He used an ox goad: A stick that was 8 feet long, and about 6 inches around at the big end and He delivered Israel: Nothing fancy about Shamgar but God used him to single handedly slay 600 Philistines God seems to always use ordinary instruments for extraordinary work! People who are unique, People who draw their strength from Him and People who are willing to be used.