Caleb has died and the cycle continues. The Israelites betrayed God and followed the gods of the culture whose worship included recreational sex and child sacrifice. Sounds a lot like America today. Then enemies come along to oppress them, they turn back to God, and he sends a judge to save them. Then they turn away again. This cycle keeps reminding them, and us, how helpless we are in our sins. We just love ourselves and our ways way too much and will never turn to God. And we need a Savior.
Othniel seems like a good candidate. He's Caleb's nephew/son-in-law and from the tribe of Judah. He wastes no time in saving the land Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram. But is he the Savior we're looking for? No, because he will die and the land will return to their idolatry.
Then king Eglon comes along from Moab to torture the land. Ehud from the tribe of Benjamin comes along. He's a southpaw, which is not bad in itself but is superstitiously seen as a curse and was even up until my parents' generation. He gets the job done of ridding the land of Eglon, but he does it with more trickery. He goes to Eglon's palace, tells him that he has a message from God, pulls his sword off of his right thigh with his left hand (because Eglon would suspect a sword from the opposite direction), and plunges it into his fat belly in a rather graphic scene. Eglon's attendants wait to the point of embarrassment and then finally get a key and find out the truth. Is Ehud the man we're looking for? No. He's a jerk and eventually dies. The Savior will certainly not come from Benjamin. He'll be more like Othniel from Judah. He will do his job honestly and directly and not die.
And finally, we have two sentences and no more about Shamgar until Deborah sings about him in chapter 5. He killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad. He has a pretty good write-up here. I read about this backwoods farmer guy and simply think of Hercules. I was very much into Kevin Sorbo's Hercules when I was in 5th grade and middle school. I could see him doing this with very cheesy special effects. His story was surpassed by Samson who I'm pretty sure the myth of Herc was based on. Herc was a mix of Samson and Jesus (being a son of a god and all). Is he the man we seek to save us from our sins? I mean Jesus is always compared to Melchizedek in Genesis 14 who also makes a brief appearance, then disappears. No, because Hebrews says that Jesus is a priest FOREVER. Like Mel and like Shamgar, but FOREVER. And when he finally comes to finish the job, his people will never turn away again because he's given them his Holy Spirit to grow and guide us.