Victory and a Vow

Krista Williams

Day: 35 | Plan: Joshua-Judges

Today’s Reading: Judges 11

Judges 11:30-31 (NIV) “And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’”

Have you ever said something and later wished you hadn’t? Made a promise or a vow that over the course of time proved to be unwise?

Surely we all have. I know I’m guilty. Just recently, someone I love and deeply respect made a rash vow in the heat of the moment that could of wrecked so many lives. The words spoken arrested my soul.

Our words matter and we must be very careful.

Today in Judges 11 we meet Jephthah. Though an illegitimate son who was kicked out of his own home because of his brothers’ rejection, Jephthah was a mighty, well-respected warrior. So when Israel needed a mighty military deliverer, they went and sought him out.

We know little about Jephthah’s life before Israel begged him for help. But the Lord sent Jephthah to deliver His people from the Ammonites. (1 Samuel 12:11)

From the stories of Jephthah, we discover he was a man of faith and courage. (Hebrews 11:32) Jephthah knew God had the power to deliver His people, and he knew Israel’s history. Being an effective communicator, he brought truth and clarity to the cause of conflict as he dealt with the king of the Ammonites. He showed great diplomacy and tried to settle the land dispute with words, using a carefully crafted argument before waging war. (Judges 11:12-26) But the king of the Ammonites refused to listen. Still, Jephthah trusted God to judge rightly. (Judges 11:27)

The Spirit of the Lord was upon him and the Lord gave the enemies into his hands, but even Spirit-filled people who are used mightily of the Lord can say foolish things. (Judges 11:29-32) Like Jephthah, God’s Spirit doesn’t prevent us from acting rashly or saying reckless things.

When faced with the obstacles of defeating the Ammonites, Jephthah should have just moved forward in faith and obedience without saying another word. (I can relate! So often I open my mouth and insert my foot!) But instead, Jephthah made a vow promising if God gave him victory in battle whatever came out of the door of his house when he returned would be God’s and he would offer it as a burnt offering. It turned out his daughter was the one who came out first to greet him and celebrate his victory. (Judges 11:34-35 

Scholars are deeply divided on what specific actions Jephthah took to fulfill his vow. We know that his daughter was never married, but whether she was burned as an offering or set apart as a virgin in service to the Lord for the rest of her life remains unknown. Either way, we know Jephthah’s vow cost him his only child and any future descendants. Jephthah’s well-intended words proved to be unwise and he paid a painful price for his words.

Reckless vows can wreck us.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He instructs us not to make vows at all but to “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be No.’” (Matthew 5:33-37) Our character should speak for itself. We should exhibit integrity and reliability, so we don’t have to make promises to indicate our truthfulness.

Jesus also reminds us we will be held accountable for every careless word we have spoken. (Matthew 12:36)

Making a vow to the Lord is very serious. God doesn’t want our promises for the future; He simply wants our obedience for today. 

Prayer: Lord, I confess my words have often gotten me in a mess. Your Word reminds me that guarding my words can preserve my life and keep me from ruin. (Proverbs 13:3) Help me to think before I speak and to be mindful of my words. Guard my mouth against making unwise promises. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More Moments:

Scripture records many examples of individuals who made vows. Some of those vows proved to be... Read More

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