Friday, February 28, 2014

Jephthah's Daughter

" to me as you have said,"
Jephthath's daughter
Judges 11:36

In Judges 11 we read a story of Jephthath, the ninth judge of Israel. He made a vow to the Lord that if the Lord would make him victorious in the battle, he would sacrifice whatever first came out of his home to greet him when he returned from battle. To his horror, his one and only child--his daughter--was the first to come out of his house to greet him, she came with tambourines and dancing. He told her the problem, the vow, and how he could not go back on his word to the Lord. Can you imagine her reaction?

Surprisingly, her response was, "My father, you have given your word to the Lord; do to me as you have said, since the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon." No arguments, no running away, she simple accepted the fact that her father had given his word and this is what must be done. What kind of faith is this that a person might so willingly accept that whatever is due to the Lord must be given at all costs? This girl knew that she was not the center of the universe--the world didn't revolve around her. Her life, her plans, her future, her hopes and dreams were all subject to the Lord in a moment's notice. We don't even know her name.

She asked one thing of her father, ..."let me alone two months, that I may go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my companions." Not only did she accept herself as the sacrifice, but she wanted to mourn the fact that she wouldn't be giving her father any grandchildren, so she could be the sacrifice with a joyful heart free from regret. When her father first came home she met him with tambourines and dancing and I believe she wanted to return to that joy she had the moment before she found out what was required of her. If she was to be the sacrifice for the Lord, she would be the best--the lamb without spot or blemish.

She didn't run away, she returned after the two months, was still a virgin, and the vow was performed. It even became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel "went yearly to commemorate" her "four days in the year." This may have been four days of mourning and soul searching in the mountains. How could we benefit from four days of solitary soul-searching, making sure our hearts are full of joy and rejoicing concerning all things required of us from the Lord--even the tough things that we might naturally try to pray for escape from? Some alone-time with God might be just what we need to clear our heart from whatever we need to let go of, so we can joyfully do His will!

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