Brave man as he was, he needed a divine preparation for his work, and God graciously vouchsafed it to him. When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon a man, it makes him far other than he was before; it elevates, guides, inspires, and strengthens. He who has the Spirit will find his arms upheld, and his strength rendered sufficient for accomplishing the most arduous enterprises. May this same Spirit, in a more gracious manner, rest upon us.
This was, doubtless, the warm outburst of an earnest heart, but there was a great want of caution in it. If we vow at all, we should think long and well of what we are about to do, and then express our resolve in the plainest terms. It is most unwise for a Christian man to bring himself into bondage by rash pledges and incautious declarations. Jephthah’s case should be a warning to us.
Judges 11:32, 33
Joyfully did the hero return to his home, but alas, how marred was his triumph. His rash vow had become a pit for him.
Yet it had been far belter to break a wrong vow than to keep it. His mistake lay in uttering a vow which might possibly bring about such terrible consequences. He swore that he would offer up for a burnt offering whatsoever came forth of his doors to meet him. Half-instructed as he was, he may have thought that so bold a promise would be acceptable to Jehovah, and now in semi-heathenish fear, he feels he must stand to his word.
It was bravely spoken. Grandly did the hero’s daughter yield herself to die, or to remain unmarried, content so long as her country was free.
Judges 11:39, 40
Let us hope that her father did not actually sacrifice her: if he did, it was an act most abhorrent in the sight of God. Her submission to her doom was touchingly beautiful; let us hope that the vow was capable of a softer construction, and that she lived a celibate life, consecrated to the Lord. Many expressions in the chapter encourage that hope; at the same time it is sufficiently doubtful, to lead us to repeat our warning against every rash vow. Pause, hot spirit! Consider! Reckon all the consequences, and ere thou open thy mouth unto the Lord, make sure that what thou art covenanting to do is really for his glory, and within the lawful compass of thy power.