Each day our life speaks volumes of our beliefs; and, every day we affirm our convictions by our actions. Some days we speak flippantly about things that are true convictions, and on other days, we speak convictions about things that are irrelevant, not understanding how important it is to pay attention to what we actually say.
Most people believe a vow to God is limited to money, because many times we find ourselves negotiating with God for some degree of monetary gain. The truth is, God does not need our money. However, if you make a monetary pledge, even if it is in jest, keep it. It is a vow. A vow is anything that you have promised God you will do. Whether it is in return for something or not, is irrelevant, to be certain, God will keep His end of the bargain. If you use the term, “I swear to God…,” then you should be aware that you are dangerously avowing whatever you have said. And, if you are one of those people who like to swear to God in anger, guess what? It is a vow. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote, it is better not to vow, than to vow and not to fulfill your vow. Hannah understood this when she fulfilled her vow by taking her only son, Samuel, to the temple to live.
In Judges 11, is the story of Jephthah, a warrior who was asked to leave his step-family’s home in Gilead, primarily because, he was his father’s illegitimate child. Driven by abandonment and the desire to prove himself, the Bible says, he became a mighty man of valor, full of vanity. However, when the men of Gilead are under siege by their enemy, the Ammonites, they ask Jephthah to return to Gilead to lead the people in fighting the Ammonites. In order to solidify his help, the leaders promise if Gilead prevails in the battle against the Ammonites, they will appoint him to be the Judge / Ruler over Gilead. First he is driven out of the land, and now, they desperately need him back; this was a pretty good deal for someone who desperately wanted to prove himself!
In an effort to guarantee Gilead’s victory over the Ammonites, Jephthah vows a pompous oath to God; an oath he will eventually utterly regret.
“…If Thou shall without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” Judges 11:30-31
I am not certain what he thought would come out to greet him; but unfortunately, little did he know, it would be his daughter, his only child. He chose the price of his payment with his own words. In his arrogance and vanity in claiming the victory, he planned on sacrificing someone—anyone, to the Lord; yet, he did not know it would be his only child. For his own sake he kept his vow to God. Obviously, the vow should have been a vow of love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness; a vow that proved God’s devotion, faithfulness, and love within his life, not a pompous vow to take someone’s life, a life he had no right to offer.
What about you? Have you promised God that you were going to do something you have not done? If so, today is the day to ask for forgiveness; and, when you have finished asking for forgiveness, if your vow falls within the realm of love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness, fulfill what you have vowed! L.
Study Reference: Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, Judges 11:1-40
From: "Vows." In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions For Everyday Living.
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell