Judges 3:12-31 (NIV)
12 Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms (that is, Jericho). 14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.
15 Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite.
In the ancient world left-handed people were often forced to become right-handed. This made Ehud’s standing as a left-handed man more unusual.
HERE is Scriabin’s beautiful “Nocturne for the Left Hand Alone,” played by Antonio Iturrioz. Alexander Scriabin, 1872-1915, was a Russian composer and pianist; Tolstoy described his music as “a sincere expression of genius.”
The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way the men who had carried it. 19 At the idols near Gilgal he himself turned back and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.”
The king said, “Quiet!” And all his attendants left him.
20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly.
A right-handed person would have strapped the dagger on his left thigh in order to grab it with his right hand at the opportune moment, and Eglon would have been on guard when seeing a man’s right hand go under his cloak. But left-handed Ehud was not suspected when he slipped his left hand beneath his cloak to grab his short sword!
22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch ; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house.” 25 They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.
26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.
28 “Follow me,” he ordered, “for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and, taking possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab, they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.
Really, couldn’t you see this whole situation as part of a James Bond movie?! “Bond. Ehud Bond.”
And for the record, Sean Connery is THE James Bond; all other actors in that role are also-rans.
31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.
If Ehud was James Bond, I think Shamgar was more Chuck Norris!
And by the way, an oxgoad is a traditional farming tool used to prod and guide livestock. It could be up to 10 feet long, with a metal spear-like point on one end, and a metal flattened plate, like a paddle, on the other. Just the kind of weapon that would appeal to Chuck!
There was nothing spectacular about an ox goad. But God can use, and wants to use, whatever is in our hands. Shamgar was merely a laborer doing his job; but he took what was in his hand when prompted by God and he rescued the people of God from their enemies. Shamgar was like Moses and his shepherd’s staff or David and his shepherd’s sling. God uses simple things to accomplish great things.
What do you have in your hand? Do you sing? Make jam? Write? Teach? Cook? Draw up architectural plans? Operate on sick people? Remove teeth? Push a wheel chair? Grow plants for food? Visit people in the nursing home? Offer it to God for him to use it for his good purposes!