Judges 11:35 – I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.
This is a very solemn portion of Scripture that contains the story of Jephthah’s tragic vow. He vowed to the Lord to sacrifice the first thing that came out of the doors of his house if the Lord gave him victory over the sons of Ammon. He did triumph over the sons of Ammon, for the Scripture says “The Lord gave them into his hand” (Judges 11:32).
Making a vow to the Lord is a serious matter. In today’s vernacular, we might call it a promise. In the emotion of the moment, perhaps because of a stirring message or a crisis situation one may promise the Lord things that have not fully been thought through. A rash promise is a sure way to bring grief into one’s life. The Lord takes our words very seriously.
The story of Jephthah is difficult for many of us to relate to. How could the Lord allow this? How could this man follow through with his rash vow? How could his daughter be so submissive to her father? There probably is no answer that will satisfy the rationale of the human mind. It is an answer that must be heard in one’s spirit.
The Spirit of the Lord must bring revelation to us over such deep questions. The Scripture is clear about the priority the Lord puts on “keeping one’s word.” Even the Lord has “magnified His Word according to His name” (Psalm 138:2). Your word is the most valuable possession you have. It establishes who you really are. If one cannot trust a person’s word, there is no real basis of trust.
Thank God for the cross of Christ that dealt with all our sins. Only Christ could truly fulfill God’s Word and make it possible for us to become keepers of our word. Through daily intimacy with the Holy Spirit and time spent in God’s Word we learn how to regulate our words and be kept from rash promises.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
Lord, I ask You, as the Scriptures say “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips” (Ps 141:3). I am weak, but Your Holy Spirit strengthens me and will keep my heart from evil.