Jeptha: Keeping Promises

John Koedyker

READ : Judges 11:1-11, 29-40

“. . . I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.” (v. 35)

Jeptha had a number of things going against him—he was the son of a prostitute and
therefore was not welcome among the Israelites. He was an outcast, exiled in the land of
Tob, and there became the leader of a band of outlaws. But the man knew how to fight, and
when the Israelites were attacked by the Ammonites, they turned to this mighty

It was terribly foolish to offer the first thing that came out of his house if the Lord
gave him victory. How would Jeptha know what would meet him when he returned home? Sure
enough, the worst possible scenario occurred—his daughter came running out to greet
him. But Jeptha obviously took his vows seriously.

What father could sacrifice his own daughter? Psalm 127:3 says that “Children are God’s
best gift” (The Message). My wife and I would agree; we have been so blessed by our four
children. Most commentators believe that because child sacrifice was forbidden in Israel,
Jeptha did not actually kill his daughter, but “offered her to the Lord” as a dedication.
But the striking thing is that Jeptha kept his word. When we make promises, we should do
the same.


Lord, help me to keep the promises I make to you and others. Amen.