Day 12, Judges 11

Today’s reading in our Judges plan is Judges 11. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • Looking for a leader to help them lead an attack against the Ammonites, the Israelites select Jephthah.  This was an interesting selection considering the fact that Jephthah was an illegitimate son of Gilead and had been chased out of the country by his half brothers.
  • Jephthah’s first act as the leader was not to launch an attack on the Ammonites, but rather to negotiate for peace.  He asks the Ammonite king what they have against Israel.  The king suggests that Israel has no legitimate right to the territory.
  • Jephthah responds by stating that the land was originally in the hands of the Amorites, not the Ammonites.  But more importantly, God had given that land to Israel.
  • Since the king of Ammon could not be reasoned with, Jephthah attacked the Ammonites and the Lord gave the Israelites victory.
  • Prior to the war, perhaps feeling the tension of the battle ahead, Jephthah makes a foolish vow to God.  He promises to make an offering of whatever first comes out of his home when he returns from the battle.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • God uses the rejected.  Circumstances beyond his control forced Jephthah away from his people and into life as an outcast.  In spite of this, God used him.  No one is beyond being used by God to do great things.
  • In the heat of the moment it is easy to make foolish promises to God.  These promises may sound spiritual when we make them, but they may produce guilt and frustration when we have to fulfill them.  Making spiritual “deals” only brings disappointment.  God does not want promises for the future, but obedience for today.
  • There is disagreement among scholars as to what Jephthah did in fulfilling his vow.  Some believe he sacrificed his daughter because his vow was to offer a burnt offering.  Others point to verse 38 where it says “she would never marry”, and suggest that he had his daughter take a vow of virginity.  In a sense, she is set apart for the Lord, a kind of sacrifice.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • If you are suffering from unfair rejection, don’t blame others and become discouraged.  Remember how God used Jephthah despite his unjust circumstances.  Realize that He is able to use you, even if you feel rejected by others.
  • Do you know someone who feels rejected or is being left out due to factors beyond their control?  What could you do to accept them and include them?
  • Have you ever been in a tough spot and said, “God, if you get me out of this, I’ll…”  1 Samuel 15:22 says, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice.”  Rather than make rash promises to God seek to obey Him in all you do.