Jephthah’s story continues many of the themes we’ve seen in recent weeks. He was rejected by his own family but chosen and called by God to deliver His people. God works in unexpected ways and through unlikely people, a truth for which we can all give thanks. When the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon Jephthah, he was able to secure a key victory for God’s people. God empowers and equips us for the mission to which we’re called, another truth for which we can give thanks. And like many before him and many since, Jephthah tragically spoke and acted outside of the Lord’s commands. And as a result, his great, Spirit-led victory was followed up with excruciating disaster. In that way, Jephthah’s story offers a warning for which we can all give thanks.
The tragedy of Jephthah’s vow is that words spoken so frivolously led to a cost that was anything but frivolous. Jephthah’s vow, made in the course of a great victory, serves as a reminder that we should always weigh our words carefully. Proverbs 17:27 says, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Though he is an extreme example, Jephthah’s rash words were costly, and though the cost of our words might not be as readily apparent, our words still have the power either to tear down or to build up. So, let’s carefully and thoughtfully choose words that give life, words that build one another up, words that encourage. Who needs to hear a good word from you today?