Judges 11* Jephtah and the Gileadites. (1-11) He attempts to make peace.(12-28) Jephthah's vow. He vanquishes the Ammonites. (29-40)1-11 Men ought not to be blamed for their parentage, so long asthey by their personal merits roll away any reproach. God hadforgiven Israel, therefore Jephthah will forgive. He speaks notwith confidence of his success, knowing how justly God mightsuffer the Ammonites to prevail for the further punishment ofIsrael. Nor does he speak with any confidence at all in himself.If he succeed, it is the Lord delivers them into his hand; hethereby reminds his countrymen to look up to God as the Giver ofvictory. The same question as here, in fact, is put to those whodesire salvation by Christ. If he save you, will ye be willingthat he shall rule you? On no other terms will he save you. Ifhe make you happy, shall he make you holy? If he be your helper,shall he be your Head? Jephthah, to obtain a little worldlyhonour, was willing to expose his life: shall we be discouragedin our Christian warfare by the difficulties we may meet with,when Christ has promised a crown of life to him that overcometh? 12-28 One instance of the honour and respect we owe to God, asour God, is, rightly to employ what he gives us to possess.Receive it from him, use it for him, and part with it when hecalls for it. The whole of this message shows that Jephthah waswell acquainted with the books of Moses. His argument was clear,and his demand reasonable. Those who possess the most courageousfaith, will be the most disposed for peace, and the readiest tomake advances to obtain; but rapacity and ambition often cloaktheir designs under a plea of equity, and render peacefulendeavours of no avail. 29-40 Several important lessons are to be learned fromJephthah's vow. 1. There may be remainders of distrust anddoubting, even in the hearts of true and great believers. 2. Ourvows to God should not be as a purchase of the favour we desire,but to express gratitude to him. 3. We need to be verywell-advised in making vows, lest we entangle ourselves. 4. Whatwe have solemnly vowed to God, we must perform, if it bepossible and lawful, though it be difficult and grievous to us.5. It well becomes children, obediently and cheerfully to submitto their parents in the Lord. It is hard to say what Jephthahdid in performance of his vow; but it is thought that he did notoffer his daughter as a burnt-offering. Such a sacrifice wouldhave been an abomination to the Lord; it is supposed she wasobliged to remain unmarried, and apart from her family.Concerning this and some other such passages in the sacredhistory, about which learned men are divided and in doubt, weneed not perplex ourselves; what is necessary to our salvation,thanks be to God, is plain enough. If the reader recollects thepromise of Christ concerning the teaching of the Holy Spirit,and places himself under this heavenly Teacher, the Holy Ghostwill guide to all truth in every passage, so far as it isneedful to be understood.
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