The closing scene of this chapter dominates the narrative and I will return to it in a moment but first I wanted to ponder the rest of the chapter.
Jephthah is an outcast, sent away by his family because he is a half-brother.
How mean we can be, protective of self and judgmental of others. It is so easy for me to fall into behaviors like that. Rather than getting to know a person I make judgments based on outward appearances… how sin can and does ravage me from the inside out!
But then when trouble strikes, the family reaches out to Jephthah, who obviously has some leadership and military gifts. He has gathered rabble around himself. Rather than being altruistic Jephthah negotiates his best deal. I win I become your head (9). Profit and gain for personal benefit is nothing new. It is as old as the hills. I should never be surprised when my favorite athlete leaves “my team” for another simply chasing the money or CEOs making gobs of money while their companies make huge ethical lapses… and so on.
Empowered by God’s Spirit (29), Jephthah wins…
Before the battle Jephthah makes a vow to the Lord (30) that whatever comes out of his house when he returns home victorious, he will sacrifice to the Lord. The devastating part of the account is that his only daughter comes out of the house when he comes home. The thought of this makes me shudder…
Thoughts that I ponder:
· Rash words can often come back to bit us!
· Vows to the Lord are sacred words and should NEVER be taken lightly.
I hate this story. So many thoughts war inside of me. Why was he so foolish to make this kind of vow? How could God let him go through with it in the name of faithfulness?
And yet Jephthah’s story is a constant reminder to me that vows are sacred and God expects us to fulfill our vows to Him.
Mixed emotions still raging, I turn to pray…
Lord, help me understand.
Lord, positively help me to be more altruistic than a human left to his own devices. Lord, help me to be wise in my vows and absolute in my honoring and fulfill my vows spoken to You. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.