Jephthah’s Daughter

A Lamplighter Moment from Mark Hamby

Do you remember Jephthah? He fought for Israel as a judge, as God’s deliverer. However, while he was an effective leader of the nation, he made some grave mistakes in his leadership at home. You see, Jephthah was a dictatorial parent. Before battling the Ammonites, Jephthah prayed in Judges 11, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” What in the world does he think is going to come out of his house, the pet dog? Dictatorial parents often say things in an exaggerated way . . . “You’re grounded for two years!”

And that’s exactly what Jephthah does. He wants so badly to win that he’s willing to sacrifice whatever it takes–even his own family. Let’s look at the rest of the narrator’s comments: “Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow’” (Judges 11:34-35).

Do you hear what I heard? He’s blaming her for his stupidity and his rash vow. But his timing is perfect. Dictatorial parents and spouses are always blaming others for their own failures. Ultimately, they disregard the lives of those that God has placed in their care, and become fixated on the emotions of the moment. In the midst of life’s battles, we can trust in a God who demonstrated his love for us by allowing his own Son to die . . . otherwise, we will sacrifice our own children on the altar of selfish pursuits.


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