“And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, ‘If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering’” Judges 11:30-31.
The Bible never glosses over the bad points of God’s people seeking to serve Him. Jephthah was rough around the edges to be sure. He also had a lot of worthless fellows that attached themselves to him. But, unlike Abimelech, he seemed to legitimately want to serve God. This should encourage us as we see God using someone imperfect in His service.
But, unlike Jephthah, we should trust in God and His salvation, never-ending love, and constant concern for us rather than seeking to strike rash bargains with God that we often don’t intend to keep. Even if we were to keep a vow, the fact that we felt we had to make it in the first place indicates that God is into making deals rather than operating out of love. This cheapens God to the status of a pagan god.
We won’t ever know if Jephthah actually sacrificed his daughter as a burnt offering.
But we should not vow but instead trust God to love us.
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Here’s a great article about the peril of speaking before we think by Carl Hanson. Carl preaches for the church in Port Townsend, Washington, USA. He also sends out a daily devotional email for teenagers (but they’re also great for the young at heart as you’ll see) called “teEn-MAIL“.
WHERE DOES OUR MOUTH LEAD?
Commitments. Promises. Pledges. Vows. Giving one’s word. Do we take such SERIOUSLY? What do we see from others around us? Do we observe difficulty sticking to them, keeping them, following through with them, and fulfilling them? Are they quickly made, soon regretted, and then dismissed as if they meant nothing? Has such left us in a world where we do not always know what to expect? Even with signed contracts and business deals, loopholes are sometimes sought out to break that to which one had been formerly committed.
Solomon cautioned. . .
“(25) It is a snare to say rashly, ‘It is holy,’ and to reflect only after making vows.” (Proverbs 20:25 ESV)
The specific context here appears to relate to the committing of something to God; setting it aside as holy and devoted to Him. When such was the case, it could not be taken back for common use. Under the old law, when one made a rash vow and did not fulfill it, they had to offer a sin offering so that the priest could make atonement for them. (Leviticus 5:4-5) Yes, it was a sin!
As SERIOUSLY as we ought to take our commitment to God, we should also be SERIOUS regarding what we have promised to others. Have we ever experienced having not thought a commitment fully through and found ourselves trapped by it? HONORABLE CHARACTER IS SHOWN IN FOLLOWING THROUGH with what was said anyway. For this reason Solomon’s caution was against committing rashly or too quickly. Reflecting on what we have committed — whether to others or to God — should be before we speak.
Solomon noted further in Ecclesiastes. . .
“(4) When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. (5) It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. (6) LET NOT YOUR MOUTH LEAD YOU INTO SIN, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 ESV)
Where do our words lead? It is better not to vow than to vow and not follow through. That to which we commit ourselves we ought to be ready to make good. Therefore, let us give thought to the SERIOUSNESS of having surrendered our life to God. When it comes to the marriage relationship, the vows ought to be taken very SERIOUSLY as being made to the other and before God Who is the witness of all we say and do. When it comes to our interaction with others, may we be known as ones whose “yes” means yes and “no” means no. (Matthew 5:37) What we have said with our mouth, let us REVEAL BY OUR ACTIONS THAT OUR WORD CAN ALWAYS BE DEPENDED ON; words that always lead to making good on our word.
Have a great day BEING KNOWN FOR HONORING OUR WORD! – Carl