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Judges 11:29-40

Jephthah’s Tragic Vow

29 Now the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon. 30 Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, 31 then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” 32 So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand. 33 He struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer [j]to the entrance of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the sons of Ammon were subdued before the sons of Israel.

34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have [k]given my word to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.” 36 So she said to him, “My father, you have [l]given your word to the Lord; do to me [m]as you have said, since the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon.” 37 She said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may [n]go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my companions.” 38 Then he said, “Go.” So he sent her away for two months; and she left with her companions, and wept on the mountains because of her virginity. 39 At the end of two months she returned to her father, who did to her according to the vow which he had made; and she [o]had no relations with a man. Thus it became a custom in Israel, 40 that the daughters of Israel went yearly to [p]commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.

This passage is a sobering reminder that we ought not to commit to anything without serious thought. Some are in the habit of just saying “yes” to everything, and that is neither healthy nor appropriate.

God did not ask for Jephthah’s daughter, nor would He have done so. But Jephthah’s foolhardy vow cost him dearly in the end. If we seek God in all we do, and strive to follow His path in our lives, it will be a very different story.

We need to guard our time, for if we commit to something rashly, God may ask us later to do something, and we will not be able to without breaking a previous commitment. Again, seek Him first, and let everything else come in line with that.

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