( [email protected] ) Apr 25, 2004 07:00 AM EDT

Judges 11:35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, "Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break."

Jephthah was good at opening his mouth. (In fact ¡°he opens¡± is the meaning of his name.) When we read his story with this in mind, we are struck by what a mighty man he was not only in deeds but also in words. God used both gifts, and filled him with his Spirit, to make him one of Israel¡¯s notable judges, and one of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11.

But Jephthah opened his mouth once too often. ¡°If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me . . . I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.¡± He should never have made that vow to the Lord. For one thing, he could have foreseen its possible consequences for what came out of the door was his own daughter. For another, he used it to bargain with God for a victory that God had promised him anyway.

The only good thing about the episode is his conviction that a vow once made ought to be kept. Trustworthiness is a rare enough quality in our world. Better still is a trust in God¡¯s trustworthiness, one that does not attempt to manipulate him by the very gifts he himself has given us.

Source: Words of Hope