June 2 – A Hero’s Vow – Judges 11

Jephthah gathered a group of men to fight against the Amorites.  He organized them and led them successfully in battle.  After the battle was over, many returned joyously back to their homes.  Jephthah also returned home in anticipation of seeing family again.  As his house came into view his heart dropped, and an overwhelming grief took over his emotions.  You see, he had promised God that if God gave him the victory over the Amorites then he would sacrifice the first thing that came through the gates of his house.  Upon returning home, the first thing that came through the gate was not an animal, but was his only daughter, which he cherished so much.  It is very important to fulfill a vow or promise that you make to God.  It is also important to be careful not to make a foolish vow to God.

I wonder why Jephthah thought God would be swayed to give him victory in battle over this particular promise.  Would it have been better for Jephthah to promise God his most prized calf?  Maybe God would have liked the vow of rearing his daughter to serve and please God better than a sacrifice.  Was this promise giving Jephthah the possibility that something of small value would come out of the gate first, thus allowing Jephthah to fulfill his promise in a low-cost way?  Sometimes our vows are pretty selfish.  Sometimes we make a vow to obey what God has commanded in the Bible if God grants us health, financial aid, or some other need.  We need to be careful not to enter these kinds of vows.  We should not ransom obedience to God for wants or needs that we have.  Can you imagine if your child were to tell you, “I will obey you, but in return I want to buy me a pony?”  Vows can be a good thing, but not to be taken lightly or selfishly.