Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress - SHAMGAR

As we read through Pilgrim's Progress it is very often this that strikes me, the fullness of Bunyan's entire grasp of the Word of God. Shamgar being a great example. Who is Shamgar? I confess, though I've read Bunyan for a long time, I had not properly internalized Bunyan's use of Shamgar, why I couldn't even recall his mentioning of Shamgar, nor could I remember this Shamgar's appearance in the Word of God, even though I've read of him many times. Spurgeon remarked of Bunyan, "Prick him anywhere — his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him." Through my not recalling Shamgar, I must admit my blood is not yet Bibline so much as I desire, no not even close.

Today my girls and I read the following passage from The Pilgrim's Progress. I've bold faced a couple of things we spent time on.

"The next day they took him, and had him into the armory, where they showed him all manner of furniture which their Lord had provided for pilgrims, as sword, shield, helmet, breastplate, all-prayer, and shoes that would not wear out. And there was here enough of this to harness out as many men for the service of their Lord as there be stars in the heaven for multitude.

They also showed him some of the engines with which some of his servants had done wonderful things. They showed him Moses’ rod; the hammer and nail with which Jael slew Sisera; the pitchers, trumpets, and lamps too, with which Gideon put to flight the armies of Midian. Then they showed him the ox-goad wherewith Shamgar slew six hundred men. They showed him also the jawbone with which Samson did such mighty feats. They showed him moreover the sling and stone with which David slew Goliath of Gath; and the sword also with which their Lord will kill the man of sin, in the day that he shall rise up to the prey. They showed him besides many excellent things, with which Christian was much delighted. This done, they went to their rest again."

This section of our book drawing at least from the following biblical passages, I invite you to read these scriptures and look into the armory of Palace Beautifual and see the "furniture" of war, and the "engines" employed by God's servants:

The various armor: Eph 6:10-20
Moses’ rod: Exo 4:1-5, Exo 7:8-12
Jael’s hammer and nail: Judges 4:17-22
Gideon’s pitchers, trumpets, and lamps: Judges 7:16-23
Shamgar’s oxgoad: Judges 3:31 - see also Judges 5:6
Samson’s jawbone of an ass: Judges 15:14-17

Ever considered the two words from this passage from Eph 6:18 "Praying always with all prayer.." "All-Prayer" as a weapon in and of itself? ALL-PRAYER, a suitable weapon indeed. But Shamgar's oxgoad, not so suitable against Philistine soldiers or Philistine Bandits armed with swords, and bows, and armor. Yet, this oxgoad, only a famer's stick used to prod oxen along in their work is WEAPON APLENTY when yielded by Shamgar full of GRACE and the SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD. Shamgar, Only twice mentioned in all of scripture, yet this twice mentioning is for our learning and admonishment, is also at least twice mentioned by Bunyan. I found him also here in the last stanza of a poem by Bunyan called, "A Book for Boys and Girls or Temporal Things Spiritualized"
click here for online version
And for the inconsiderableness
Of things, by which I do my mind express,
May I by them bring some good thing to pass,
As Samson, with the jawbone of an ass;
Or as brave Shamgar, with his ox’s goad
(Both being things not manly, nor for war in mode),
I have my end, though I myself expose
To scorn; God will have glory in the close.
George Cheever in his book Lectures on the Pilgrim's Progress explains for us what we might learn from considering and looking upon the "engines" that God's Servants used in time past:

"The communion of saints was never more sweetly depicted, than in Christian's sojourning in the House Beautiful. But he staid not there for pleasure; that was not the end of his journey, nor the object of it; nor did he there, as in the Arbor, use for an indulgence to the flesh what was meant for the encouragement and refreshment of the spirit. He was up by day-break singing and praying, and then they had him into the study, to show him the rarities of the place ; and the next day into the armory, to show him all manner of warlike furniture, which the Lord of the way had provided for pilgrims, where also he was made to see ancient things, which, if Bunyan could be here to interpret, he would doubtless tell us were intended to symbolize that divine grace by which the servants of the Lord have done so many wonderful things, that grace which, though to the world and the Goliaths in it, it looks as foolish as David's sling and pebble stones against a giant in full armor, is yet stronger than death, and shall overcome every thing ; for the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. "
Click here for online version or see link in the right margin of this blog.

Don't you love it? - Bunyan's description and Cheever's explanation of what our fellowship in the local church should be, could be, and for many of us very happy ones truly is, praise be to God!. Communion sweetly depicted, pilgrim's equipped with such truth as to be a belt around our waist, examples of grace to make our hearts soar to heavenly heights in joy and trust and faith in Jesus Christ our Savior, the Son of the Ancient of Days, who as Bunyan says came of Eternal Generation.

For Brevity I will leave you only with Matthew Henry's concluding remarks on Shamgar from Judges 3:31, but I urge you if you can, to read his entire commentary on this passage which supplies also good background:

Matthew Henry's Commentary, Judges 3:31:
"See here, (1.) That God can make those eminently serviceable to his glory and his church's good whose extraction, education, and employment, are very mean and obscure. He that has the residue of the Spirit could, when he pleased, make ploughmen judges and generals, and fishermen apostles. (2.) It is no matter how weak the weapon is if God direct and strengthen the arm. An ox-goad, when God pleases, shall do more than Goliath's sword. And sometimes he chooses to work by such unlikely means, that the excellency of the power may appear to be of God." Click here for Matthew Henry on Judges Chap 3 - and then scroll down for v31.

1 comment:

Anna said...

It's cool how Shamgar killed 6hundred men.I like how in the book Bunyan pit that in good English and you did the same as Bunyan did.