Have you ever made a promise and then broke it? You remember, maybe it was a time of desperation and you needed money or you needed a car, and then after all was said and done, you went back on your promise?
I thought of that today as I read the word and had to ask myself if I’ve ever done that. I wanted to take it a bit further than the surface and ask myself, if I’ve ever made a promise to God and then reneged on it. It probably went something like this, “Dear God, I promise, if You do this… I’ll do that. Rescue me! Save me!” Maybe it was when someone was really sick, or you were out of money. Then when things changed in your life, you conveniently forgot all about the agreement you made with God. That might be oversimplified, but hopefully you get the picture. You went back on your word!
That’s where my mind went as I read a heartbreaking account in the Word of God. It’s a true story about a man named Jephthah. The Bible tells us that Jephthah was a brave warrior, but even with that, he was forced to leave his homeland because he was the son of a prostitute. All his half-brothers told him he really wasn’t a part of the family, so they forced him out.
When war broke out, those who had forced him to leave, recognized they needed his strength and leadership to win the battle, so they convinced him to come back home and be their leader. He did and entered into some conversations with the opposing king to try to not go to war. The opposing king would have nothing to do with it and the battle was on.
Jephthah went throughout the land and raised up an army. It was then he made his unforgettable promise to God…
“If you will let me defeat the Ammonites and come home safely, I will sacrifice to you whoever comes out to meet me first.” Judges 11:30-31
Well, the Lord helped Jephthah defeat the enemy and on his way home, who would be first to come out to meet him? His beloved daughter. His first reaction was devastation. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He was going to need to keep his promise and sacrifice his daughter. This wasn’t a literal sacrifice, like burning her on a altar. But she would never get married and never have children, which back then was horrific. It broke his heart… but he kept his promise!
Here’s my word of encouragement for you today: Keep your promises, especially those you made to God. It’s so easy to go back on our word, break a promise. But remember, God has never, ever broken a promise with you and He never will! Be a man of God, be a woman of God, like Jephthah and keep your promises.
Help me keep my promises, especially those I’ve made to You. In Jesus’ powerful name I ask this, Amen.
Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausen
Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.