A Promise Sized Box

“My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites.  But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”

“You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry.  After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin. From this comes the Israelite tradition that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite. – Judges 11:36-40

God makes promises.  God keeps His promises.  We benefit from His promises if we live in His will.  We are not God.  Jephthah took a bad detour on a successful campaign when he bartered with God.  His promise was contingent on God granting him victory.  He was putting God in a human sized box.

This is why we must be careful about the promises we make to our children.  We are not God.  There are things that are bigger than us, that can prevent us from following through on our word.  It is this limitation that should give us pause when tendering a promise.  We should be honest with our children, even about our limitations. 

Jephthah paid a dear price for making a promise that didn’t need to be made.  God had given the Israelites victory battle after battle, but at some point Jephtah lost sight of God’s promise and latched onto his own.  We need to point our children toward the promises of God, not the promises of men.  Every time we make a promise and break it we break hearts and they can be long in mending. 

Lord, help me to be man of my word and let me be wise in giving my word.  Help me turn my children’s eyes and ears to Your promises.  Let me live each day in the light of your promises. Amen.

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