How can you forgive when you doubt the other person’s sincerity? How can you forgive when you don’t feel like it?
Judges 11 & 12
Judges 11 & 12:
A rash vow
Surely the story of Jephthah and his daughter is one of the hardest to understand. Jephthah makes a vow to the Lord, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering” (vvs. 30-31). Verses 34-35:
34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.”
His daughter’s response is quite amazing. Verses 36-37:
36 So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.” 37 Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.”
We can’t be sure what this “sacrifice” actually was. One possibility is that her father actually sacrificed her. The other is that she became a perpetual virgin. Whatever it was, as John MacArthur said, “Jephthah made a rash vow to the Lord for which his daughter had to pay the primary consequence.”
A daughter’s faith & trust
How could God use Jephthah after he made such a rash and foolish vow? How could He use Sampson with his weakness for women or Gideon who repeatedly tested Him before he would obey?
If we look honestly at our own lives we would have to wonder the same. It’s not a testimony to the “goodness or wickedness” of those He uses, but a testimony to the mercy of God.
And I believe God reserved a special place in heaven for Jephthah’s daughter. What a great reward she must have received for her submissive heart and respect for her father in spite of his shortcomings.
It reminds me of the men and women who were martyred for their faith during the Reformation where women handed over their children to family members and willingly walked to the stake to be burned rather than forsake their faith. However, misguided Jephthah’s vow, his daughter showed great faith and trust in God. Continue reading