Day 15

Conflict with Ephraim

from the Judges reading plan


Judges 12:1-15, 1 Samuel 8:19-22, Ecclesiastes 5:4-7

BY Rebecca Faires

Scripture Reading: Judges 12:1-15, 1 Samuel 8:19-22, Ecclesiastes 5:4-7

Jephthah’s life is starting to unravel. Because of his rash vow, his daughter is dead and his family is broken. Jephthah was wrong to make that vow, and he was wrong to keep it. Because he was called into leadership by men instead of being raised up by God, he was man’s solution to a problem that can only be solved by God. And now, after a seemingly great victory over the Ammonites, the Ephraimites are pounding at his door and threatening to burn his house down over a ridiculous tiff.

Ironically, Jephthah’s house is really already on fire by the time the Ephraimites come for him, sharpening their flints. And the fire that burned was kindled by Jephthah’s very own hands and lips. It was the destructive fire of his sin. And he couldn’t keep the smoldering smoke a secret for long.

The Ephraimites have no good reason to pick a fight with Jephthah. They are angry because he didn’t summon them to help fight the Ammonites. Since he had been called to leadership by the Gileadites, Jephthah really had no authority to summon the tribe of Ephraim to war in the first place. But once they Jephthah is victorious over the Ammonites, they want a piece of that juicy victory and rise up against Jephthah.

In Shakespeare’s epic tragedy, Hamlet, Queen Gertrude groans, “When sorrows come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions.” In the same way, as Jephthah’s sins pile up, he continues to trudge forward in his own strength, his wrongs and sorrows compounding. Before he knows it, his own house is in shambles. A threat from foreigners to burn his house down is laughable because he has already burned what is valuable with his own actions. No amount of water could douse the flames ignited by the murder of his own daughter. This sin that was closest to his heart ended his career. His time as a judge was over. Jephthah was so burned by the evil that cauterized his family, he could not recover.

Our darkest and most burning sins damage us in profound ways. But hope is never lost. Sometimes fire is the severe mercy we require. “This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God’” (Zechariah 13:9). Even if the house of your heart is on fire, call on His name and He will answer you.

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Post Comments (54)

54 thoughts on "Conflict with Ephraim"

  1. Kristen Elizabeth says:

    No one is too far gone to call on God. I’m thinking about what God called Paul (Saul) from, his life was heading down a pretty dangerous path. I pray that I will always know I’m never too far gone to call out for God.

  2. Susie says:

    Thank you ladies for your responses and prayers. Please continue to pray that I will make the right decision. I’ve sought God’s counsel but, haven’t heard His answer. Maybe I have but, have allowed Satan to confuse me. I feel guilty for making such a rash and stupid promise (a totally Jephtah thing to do) and have kept myself from taking communion for almost a year. I now feel led to confess my stupidity and take the reins away from the deceiver and give control back to loving Father. Reading this now makes me wonder how I could have let this go on for so long. Thank you again all of you sweet sisters. Praise God !!! I’ll be eating at YOUR table this Sunday!!!

  3. Susie says:

    She Reads Truth, please let us know who wrote this commentary. And would someone please clarify it. I was so excited by the beginning because I have been struggling with a similar situation. After reading this I am more confused than I was before. Please help me understand if Jephtha should have kept his vow even if it was a foolish one. I desperately need to know. Thank you. A Troubled Soul

    1. Amanda says:

      If the vow he said would cause him or you to sin it should not be kept. By killing his daughter, Jephthah sinned because God has said, “You should not kill.” God never requires us to break His law or go against what He says to honor Him.
      Hope that helps!
      Praying for you and your situation.

    2. Ellie Garrison says:

      Jephtha’s vow was foolish and sinful and for him to keep his vow was a continuance of sin. I understood that the commentary was saying to be careful of what we let come out of our mouths in the first place, but it is never God’s plan for us to continue in sin just because we said something foolish. There is grace in our mistakes and repenting and returning is where we find our rest.

  4. Dorothy says:

    As we read further into Judges I am noticing that when Israel takes things into their own hands somewhere along the way they regret it but when they turn to the Lord things turn for the better. I have noticed the same to be true in my own life. When I try to handle things my own way without God it ends up in a disaster but if God is in control the whole time I have no problem with it. I need to let God and let go.

  5. Mari V says:

    Good morning ladies, As I mentioned earlier this morning my son starts his senior year High school today. Since I am off today I text him to let him know I am here for him if he needs anything. He text right back and said he’s been stuck in the career center trying to straighten out his third period class. God is good timing was perfect. Please pray for my son so this gets this straightened out.

  6. Julie says:

    I’m confused, the Ecclesiastes passage makes it seem like Jephthah should have kept his vow, whereas this devotional and the Leviticus passages used with the previous passage say he shouldn’t have… Did Jephthah do the right thing by keeping his word?

      1. Emily says:

        I was pondering the same thing. What I have felt about these verses is that the vow Jephthah made was his own and not one God asked of him. Reread Matthew 5:34-37. This helped my understand that we have no right to swear by something that is not ours. Not even on ourselves (vs 36). In verse 37 it says we are to say yes or no ‘more than these cometh of evil.
        When make righteous vows and covenants with God those are the ones that should be kept and not broken…or it would be better that we didn’t promise something we weren’t ready to keep. I hope that helps.

    1. Amy Donaldson says:

      I’m confused by the same thing.

    2. Nolvia B says:

      I am confused as well. Yes, he made the vow but human sacrifices were forbidden for God’s people. I have been led to believe that the daughter was consecrated to be of service to the temple. Anyone can explain??

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