When the Wrath of God Falls Upon His Servants (1 Samuel 1-3)

Daily reading assignment: 1 Samuel 1-3

Our “Chronological Read-thru the Bible” schedule brings us to 1 Samuel.  The history, personalities, and principles found in 1 Samuel are too rich to summarize in brief devotional commentaries, but, that is my challenge.  Please do not rush your reading or overlook the treasure trove of spiritual truths found in 1 Samuel 1-3.

1 Samuel 1 – Several historic names come to the forefront in our introductory reading.

Elkanah (1:1), whose lineage was Levite through Kohath a son of Levi.  Elkanah had two wives (1:2): Peninnah, who had given him several sons and daughters, and his favored wife Hannah, who was barren (1:2-8).

Hannah was the object of abuse from Peninnah and she grieved her barrenness (1:7-8). Every year at the time of their pilgrimage to Shiloh where the Tabernacle was located, Hannah prayed with tears asking the LORD to give her a son, promising to dedicate him to the LORD and consecrate him as a Nazarite (1:9-11).

The LORD heard and answered Hannah’s prayers (1:19), and she gave birth to a son she named Samuel, meaning “heard of God” (1:20). I am sure there are mothers reading today’s scripture whose hearts resonate with Hannah’s when she prays:

1 Samuel 1:27-28 – “For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 28  Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD…”

1 Samuel 2 – From Joy to Tragedy

Hannah broke into a song of praise and thanksgiving (2:1-10) after dedicating Samuel to the LORD.  Scholars suggest he was three years old when she left him to serve in the Tabernacle at Shiloh, while she and Elkanah went home to Ramah.  There the LORD remembered Hannah’s sacrifice and honored her with “three sons and two daughters,” in addition to Samuel (2:21).

1 Samuel 2:12-17 takes on an ominous tone, and I wonder if Hannah did not struggle entrusting Samuel to Eli’s care. Eli, who was high priest and judge in Israel, had two sons serving as priests, Hophni and Phinehas. We read, they “were sons of Belial [lit. wickedness; worthless; ungodly]; they knew not the LORD” (2:12). Those sons were notoriously wicked and abused their priestly office, not only provoking the people who brought sacrifices (2:12-17), but inviting God’s judgment on their father and his lineage (2:22-36).

Old is No Excuse (2:22-36)

Don’t dismiss the mutual burden Eli shared with his sons and their wickedness as priests. Some might argue, “Eli was very old, and we should not be hard on the man” (2:22). Such was not the case in the LORD’S judgment.

Eli was aware of the sins committed by his sons (2:22-23) and his weak, emasculated rebuke of them was not only despicable, it was tragic (2:23-24). No wonder we read of his sons, they “hearkened not unto the voice of their father” (2:25). They had no fear of God and no respect for their father.

Here is a spiritual lesson leaders and board members of churches and institutions should heed before it is too late.

Eli compromised the priesthood by failing to rebuke and restrain his sons’ wickedness. Is that not the sin that is haunting ministries in our day? Might it be the spiritual decline of our churches, schools, and Bible colleges has its roots in the same failures we observe in Eli?

Warning: Spiritual leaders may be tempted to sacrifice the spiritual integrity of their institutions as an accommodation of their own children’s sins.

The LORD set Himself against Eli for his failure as a father and high priest.  He determined to slay Eli’s sons because Eli had honored his sons above the LORD (2:29). Eli was told his household would be disgraced (2:30) and his sons would die before they were old, and on the same day (2:32, 34).

1 Samuel 3“Speak, For Thy Servant Heareth” (3:10)

Never to leave His people in want, God was preparing Samuel to be His servant (2:26; 3:1a). Still in his youth, Samuel’s heart was tender, and when the LORD called him he was ready to hear and obey (3:1-10).

The first revelation to Samuel is distressing. God revealed His judgment on Eli and his sons would cause Israel to tremble (3:11).  Because he had known the wickedness committed by his sons in the priesthood and had failed to restrain them (3:12-13), Eli had been warned God’s judgment would not be satisfied until his lineage was cut off forever (3:14).

The next morning, Eli asked Samuel, “What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee?” (3:17) Samuel told him everything, and Eli resigned himself to God’s judgment, saying, “It is the LORD: let Him do what seemeth Him good” (3:18).

1 Samuel 3 concludes reminding us that God honors and rewards faithfulness to His Word (3:19-21).

1 Samuel 3:19 – “And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of His words [words and instructions of the LORD] fall to the ground [perish or be despised].”

The LORD was once again present in Shiloh, “for the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel” (3:21).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Here Comes the Bride! (Ruth 1-4)

Daily reading assignment: Ruth 1-4

The Book of Ruth is a beloved book of God’s people and of particular interest to Jews and Christians because it establishes the genealogy of David as a descendant of the tribe of Judah, the royal tribe of which Jesus Christ is born.  We read in Matthew 1:5-6, “And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth [the subject of today’s Bible reading]; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king…”

Ruth 1 – Far From God

The Book of Ruth is a bridge between two eras, from the time when judges ruled Israel but before kings reigned in the land.  It is a testimony of God’s sovereignty… overruling in the affairs of man and providentially working out His will through the frailty of human decisions.

The book of Ruth is often described as a book of “Redemption,” for it explains how Ruth, a Gentile Moabite woman who had no right of inheritance among the tribes of Israel, came to be named in the lineage of Christ when she became the wife of Boaz, a wealthy man who paid the price of her redemption.

The opening verses of Ruth introduce us to Elimelech and his wife Naomi. We find Israel in the midst of a crisis (“there was a famine in the land”) that demanded a response of faith and obedience.  Elimelech, however, failed to respond to the famine by faith and led his family to Moab…far from the LORD, his people, and the land of his inheritance (Ruth 1:2).

Elimelech’s fateful decision ended tragically when he and his sons, both of whom had married Moabite women, died in Moab leaving Naomi alone with the wives of her sons (1:3-5).

What a miserable fate Naomi had suffered during her ten-year sojourn in Moab!

She became a widow in a foreign land and was left in poverty and despair. A glimmer of hope ignited in Naomi when she heard, “the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread” (1:6).

Naomi determined to return to Israel, and, knowing Moabite women would have no place in Israel, she encouraged her daughters-in-law to find Moabite husbands (1:7-9).   When Orpah and Ruth, Naomi’s daughters-in-law, insisted on returning with her, she counseled them toward an unwise decision (1:10-12).

Orpah heeded Naomi’s counsel and returned to Moab (1:13-15); however, Ruth clung to Naomi, refusing to depart.  Ruth’s love for Naomi inspired one of the most beautiful confessions of faith in the Bible (1:16-17).

Ruth 1:16-17And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 17  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORDdo so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

The trials and ten year sojourn in Moab had taken such a physical toll on Naomi’s appearance that when she returned to Israel, the people of Bethlehem looked on her and said, “Is this Naomi?(1:19) Ten-years of trials, troubles, and losses had dramatically changed her.

Naomi answered their inquiries and confessed her bitter spirit toward the LORD saying, “20b Call me not Naomi [pleasant], call me Mara [bitter]: for the Almighty [El Shaddai] hath dealt very bitterly with me…21b the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent One] hath testified [responded to her sin] against me, and the Almighty [El Shaddai—Eternal; All powerful; All Sufficient One] hath afflicted me?” (1:20b-21)

Ruth 2 – The Sovereignty and Providential Care of the LORD

Time and space do not allow me to carry this story of love and grace to a proper conclusion, but I urge you to read all four chapters in the Book of Ruth.

Ruth’s beauty and exceptional character captured the eye and the affections of Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of Elimelech, Ruth’s deceased father-in-law (2:5-17).   Although she was Moabite woman and stranger in the midst of God’s people, she changed her citizenship, and by faith became part of the house of Israel. The LORD sovereignly led Boaz to extend his grace to Ruth, and he loved her and acknowledged her faith saying, “the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust” (2:12).

Ruth 3Boaz proposed marriage and pledged his love to Ruth (3:10-12).

Ruth 4 – A Romance of Redemption

Boaz’s romance of redemption is completed in Ruth 4 when he purchased the right to take Ruth as his wife (4:9).   This amazing story of romance, grace, and God’s sovereignty ends stating that Ruth, a Moabite woman by birth, would be the great-great-grandmother of David, Israel’s future king (4:22).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Every Man Did That Which Was Right In His Own Eyes” (Judges 19-21)

Daily reading assignment: Judges 19-21

Judges 19 – The Infamy of Wickedness in Gibeah

Judges 19:1 reminds us there was “no king in Israel” and no judge to advocate God’s Law and call the nation to repent. The depth of wickedness and moral depravity to which Israel had descended is revealed in the story of the Levite whose concubine (a wife of lesser stature) had “played the whore against him, and went away…unto her father’s house” (19:2).

The same Levite pursued his wife to her father’s home and was persuaded to tarry with him several days before commencing his journey home to Bethlehem with his wife and servants (19:3-10).

Along the way it became necessary to seek lodging in the city of Gibeah that was of the tribe of Benjamin (19:12-15).  Unable to find shelter in Gibeah, an elderly man offered the Levite and his company housing for the night (19:16-21).

As it was in Sodom for Lot and his family (Genesis 19:6), we find the moral debauchery of homosexuality had become the practice of the men of Gibeah. That night the men of Gibeah surrounded the home of the old man and demanded he put the Levite priest out of his house so they might sadistically rape him (19:22).

Desperate to spare his guest the reprehensible demeaning of sodomy, the elderly man offered his daughter and the Levite’s concubine to satisfy the immoral demands of the sodomites (19:23-24). Scandalously, the men of Gibeah took the concubine, “abused her all the night,” and left her for dead (19:25).

Traumatized, degraded, and violently raped, the concubine fell at the door of the elderly man’s home where she was found at morning light (19:24-26).

Finding his wife dead, the Levite took her lifeless body and transported her to his house (19:28). When he arrived at home, the Levite took a knife and cut her corpse in twelve pieces that he sent as a rebuke and testimony to the great wickedness that had befallen the twelve tribes of Israel (19:29).

Judges 20 – Civil War in Israel

Understanding the wickedness of Gibeah, warriors of eleven tribes were stirred with indignation (20:1-11) and demanded the tribe of Benjamin deliver the sodomites of Gibeah into their hands (20:12).

When the men of Benjamin refused, the tribes determined to go to battle against the tribe (20:13-17).  At first, the fight went in favor of the rebellious tribe of Benjamin (20:18-25); however, after weeping, praying, and offering sacrifices, the LORD assured Israel of victory (20:26-46).

The tribe of Benjamin was nearly decimated, and only 600 men remained after the battle was done (20:47-48).

Judges 21 – Victory, But Overwhelming Sorrow

The Benjaminites were isolated from the other tribes that had determined their daughters would not be allowed to marry any men of Benjamin (21:1).   Though victorious, the tribes of Israel were broken over the sin and wickedness that had taken hold in the land, leaving one of the twelve tribes nearly destroyed (21:2-6).

The book of Judges ends with the reminder: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (21:25). 

I am afraid those words describe our day. We are living in a world that has rejected God, His Word, Law, and Commandments.  Pulpits are filled with preachers who deflect the duty of declaring the Word of God, and people who love the world sit in the pews and classrooms of our churches and schools (1 John 2:15-17).

Such compromise, whether in the pulpits or in the home, will inevitably lead to God’s judgment.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Palm Sunday Worship Services at Hillsdale (9:45 AM and 10:30 AM)

Good morning from Hillsdale Baptist Church!

The pastoral staff has been planning for a traditional Palm Sunday observance, but of course, without you being physically present for our worship services. Nothing can replace our church family being together; however, we have determined to reach out to you through the means available to us at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org and Hillsdale’s public Facebook Page.

There was quite a debate this past week over whether or not churches should congregate and exercise our constitutional religious liberty; this in spite of the cautions of our federal, state, and county officials. While my desire to be together is strong, my love for you as a shepherd in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis is overwhelming to protect you, your family, and loved ones from unnecessary exposure. In my opinion, this is not a religious liberty issue, but a case of integrity with our community and common sense. I assure you that I will be among the first to stand up and speak out for our constitutional liberties.

We continue our virtual worship ministry this morning at 9:45 AM with Justin Jarrett, our youth pastor, bringing a Teen Bible Study titled, “Make Those Changes, Because the Mirror Doesn’t Lie”, from James 1:19-25.

An interlude of recordings from Hillsdale’s choir and musicians will follow at 10:15-10:30 AM.

You are invited to join Hillsdale’s pastoral staff for our Palm Sunday worship service that begins at 10:30 AM.

After a brief greeting and time of prayer, the pastoral staff will lead in a full service of congregational music songs sheets for 4 5 2020, special music with Pastor Armstrong and his daughter Jenna singing “Jerusalem,” and the staff singing “Almighty, Unchangeable God.”

I look forward to preaching a message titled, “Journey to the Cross” and invite you to print out the extended sermon outline listing the events of the week leading up to the Cross.  I will begin with Christ’s final passage from Jericho (Matthew 20) and close with the prophecy of Zechariah Jesus fulfilled in His triumphant entrance to Jerusalem.

I am attaching a link for a PDF copy of today’s student outline and invite you to print it out for use during the 10:30 AM service at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org.

01 – Journey to the Cross – Timeline student blank

Don’t forget: In addition to my daily devotional commentaries (today’s will be posted this afternoon), Family Pastor Eric Peterman and ministry intern Thomas Simpson are posting brief “Hot Shot” video clips for children on Hillsdale’s Facebook page. You are invited to check them out!

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Tragic Fall of Samson (Judges 16-18)

Daily reading assignment: Judges 16-18

We are left to wonder what Samson might have done had he remained fully yielded and devoted to the LORD. Dedicated to the LORD from his conception and commanded to follow the guidelines and disciplines of a Nazarite (Numbers 6:1-8; Judges 13:4-5), Samson’s life was full of promise. His mother and father were keenly aware of the responsibilities they would bear to teach and train their son to serve the LORD (13:8, 13).

His deeds and defeat of the Philistines were legend in Israel, and his enemies were convinced Samson was no ordinary man. Tragically, his inclination for the lusts of the flesh left him vulnerable to the humiliating consequences of sin.

Judges 16 is a dramatic passage that finds Samson in Gaza, a walled city on the Mediterranean Sea, in the company of an unnamed harlot. Perhaps sensing the threat of danger from those who would kill him, Samson rose in the night and in a dramatic feat carried away the large gates of the city and transported them a distance of nine miles finally setting them on a hill overlooking the city of Hebron (16:1-3).

Judges 16:4-21 – Samson and Delilah

The story of Samson and Delilah has inspired poems, plays, oratorios, operas, and has been the subject of modern films for decades.

Samson, we read, “loved a woman…whose name was Delilah” (16:4). Delilah, it appears, had no love for Samson, and when she was offered eleven hundred pieces of silver to betray Samson, she plotted to learn the secret of his strength that she might betray him and be enriched (16:4-5).

Four times Delilah questioned Samson from whence came his strength, and three times he deceived her (16:6-14). When she persistently protested that Samson said he loved her, but mocked her with his lies, he finally yielded and confided to her that his strength was derived from the fact his hair had never been cut, because he was a Nazarite from his mother’s womb (16:17). Delilah believed Samson had “told her all his heart” (16:18), and sent word for the Philistines to come, and they “brought money in their hand” (16:18).

Foolish Samson, having betrayed the LORD and the symbol of his strength to a wicked woman, fell asleep and Delilah cut off “seven locks of his head” (16:19). When Delilah said, “The Philistines be upon thee, Samson,” we read tragically, “he wist not that the LORD was departed from him”(16:20). How a mighty man with so much potential could fall victim to a temptress like Delilah is indeed the stuff of legends.

Bound by the Philistines who gouged out his eyes, the champion of Israel was reduced to a lowly slave pushing a mill wheel and grinding seed to flour (16:21). Time passed and Samson’s hair began to grow (16:22). Three thousand Philistine men and women gathered to celebrate their victory over Samson and to offer sacrifice to their fish god “Dagon” (16:23). In the midst of their celebration they sent for Samson that they might mock him (16:25).

Blind, bound by chains, and led by a small boy, Samson requested he be guided to the central pillars of the building (16:26). Seeking vengeance for himself and desiring to vindicate the name of God, Samson prayed: “O Lord God, remember me…and strengthen me…Let me die with the Philistines” (16:28, 30). Leaning against the pillars that supported the house and employing all his strength, suddenly the walls and roof collapsed killing the Philistines and Samson (16:30).

In spite of his failures, he had “judged Israel twenty years,” and Samson’s lifeless body was buried in his father’s tomb (16:31).

Twice we read in Judges 17-18, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 18:1). 

To illustrate the wickedness and depravity in Israel, we are introduced to an Ephraimite named Micah.  Micah was guilty of stealing eleven hundred shekels of silver from his mother who had dedicated the silver to the LORD (17:1-2) and perhaps to be used at the Tabernacle in Shiloh.

Learning his mother had uttered a curse on the thief, Micah returned the silver and excused his theft on the pretense of religion and his desire to have an idol shaped from the silver and revered in his “house of gods” (17:3-4).  After returning the silver to his mother, she foolishly rewarded him with two hundred shekels of silver, which he melted at a foundry and poured into the mold of a breastplate (ephod) like that worn by priests and an idol described as a teraphim (17:4-5).

Here we read, “There was no king in Israel (meaning there was none to uphold the law), but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (17:6).

Further increasing his wickedness, Micah employed a Levite to serve him and his idols as priest. (17:7-13).

Judges 18 paints a portrait of wickedness in Israel that is astounding and tragic to read.  Not only had the nation turned from the LORD and broken covenant with Him, but the people were striving for and stealing one another’s idols.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Conception, Birth, and Life of Samson (Judges 13-15)

Daily Reading Assignment – Judges 13-15

The story of Samson, the judge and champion of Israel (Judges 13-16), is a familiar one to the majority of Bible students. For that reason, I am focusing on the less known details of his conception and the revelation of his person to his mother and father (Judges 13).

The national cycle of sin, suffering, repentance, and restoration continues in our study of the Book of Judges. Israel had been oppressed by the Philistines, and the people had suffered the consequences of their sin and rebellion for forty years (13:1). Hearing the cries of His people, the “angel of the LORD” appeared to a barren woman who was the wife of Manoah, of the tribe of Dan.

Manoah’s wife was told she would bare a son, but not just any son. From the moment of his conception, his mother was to set herself and her son apart for the LORD (13:3-5).

She and her son were to follow Nazarite guidelines (Numbers 6:1-8) and its three prohibitions: She was not to drink wine or any strong drink (13:4, 7), nor eat anything unclean (13:4, 7), and her son’s hair was not to be cut (13:7).

Telling her husband she had been visited by “a man of God” (13:6), Manoah prayed to the LORD, “teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born” (13:8). God answered his prayer and the “angel of the LORD” appeared a second time (13:9-11). Manoah asked, “How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” (13:12)

Eager to be a good host by Eastern traditions and not understanding his guest was no ordinary man (13:16), Manoah desired to prepare a meal for his visitor (13:15). The “angel of the LORD” refused his invitation, but encouraged Manoah, “offer a burnt offering” (13:16).

Still blind to the identity of his guest, Manoah asked, “What is thy name?” under the pretense that when his son was born he would honor his guest (13:17).

The “angel of the LORD” answered Manoah with a question that was in fact a revelation saying, “Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?” (13:18) The word “secret” might better be translated, “Wonderful.” In other words, too “Wonderful” to speak, one of the names of the Messiah revealed by Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 9:6.

Isaiah 9:66  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

A flame suddenly came from within the rock and consumed the “kid” (young goat) Manoah offered as a meat offering. Revealing He was more than a man, “the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar” (13:20).

When Manoah realized his visitor was not a man, he said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God” (13:22).  Manoah’s wife, having a greater understanding of the LORD’s character than her husband, replied, “If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands” (13:23).

Manoah’s wife gave birth to Samson and we read, “the child grew, and the LORD blessed him” (13:24) setting the stage for Samson to be moved by the “Spirit of the LORD” (13:25).

Judges 14-15 are familiar chapters for most, and I encourage you to read those passages in the absence of an extended commentary.

A Closing Thought: A Model of Godly Parenting

Consider the significant responsibility of child-bearing and child-rearing that were impressed upon the hearts of Samson’s mother and father. While he was in her womb, Samson’s mother was instructed to live a sanctified life and follow the same Nazarite guidelines her son would live under (13:4, 7).

Manoah, Samson’s father, understood the significance of the prophetic announcement of his son’s conception and birth. He desired to know what he was to teach his son (13:8) and his responsibility to prepare Samson for the LORD’S calling on his life (13:12).

All parents should bear the privilege and responsibility for their child’s spiritual and physical well-being.

Set a godly example by your lifestyle and choices. Search the Scripture to know not only how you should “order the child,” but also how you should “do unto him” (13:12).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“God Hath Chosen the Foolish Things” (Judges 10-12)

Daily reading assignment: Judges 10-12

Judges 10 – The Consequences of a Broken Covenant

A string of judges followed the death of Abimelech (9:53-56); however, there are none whose achievements are recorded (probably because there was nothing noteworthy about them).

Israel soon fell into a familiar pattern of breaking God’s covenant and forsaking His Law (10:6). Angered by the sins of the people, the LORD removed His protection, and Israel suffered decades of oppression under the Philistines (something that would continue until David became king).

Out of her sorrows, Israel repented of her sins and called upon the LORD (10:9-16) as the Ammonites gathered for war against the nation (10:17-18).

Judges 11 – Jephthah: An Unlikely Hero

Judges 11 brings to mind that God uses the “foolish things of the world to confound the wise…And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen” (1 Corinthians 1:26, 28).

We read that Jephthah was “a mighty man of valour [warrior] (11:1),  a man whose lineage was less than stellar from humanity’s perspective. He was the son of an adulterous woman (11:2), and an illegitimate heir of his father in the eyes of his brethren (11:2). Rejected by his father’s children (11:3), Jephthah found refuge “in the land of Tob” (11:3) where he was joined by nefarious (wicked) men.

Though scorned by his family, when the Ammonites rose up against Gilead, Jephthah was asked to defend and lead his people against them (11:4-6). Shrewdly, he did not miss the opportunity to confront the irony of their rejection and now their invitation for him to be their leader (11:7-11).

Jephthah first petitioned for peace with the Ammonites (11:12-13). When his offer was rejected, he suggested four arguments to refute why the Ammonites’ demand for their ancestral lands was unfounded.

1) Israel had taken the land when the ancestors of the Ammonites made war against Israel (11:14-22). 2) The LORD had given Israel the land according to His promises (11:23-24). 3) Israel had occupied the land as their own for three centuries (11:26). 4) The Ammonites were not making war against Israel, but against her God (11:27-28).

When Jephthah’s offering of peace was rejected, he sought the LORD’s blessing and went to war (11:29-30), but only after foolishly promising to dedicate and sacrifice the first who greeted him after his victory over the Ammonites (11:31-33).

Victorious, Jephthah returned home and was greeted by his only child, a daughter, and the thrill of victory turned to overwhelming sorrow.  [On a personal note: Scholars argue over whether or not Jephthah intended a human sacrifice. I believe that is a foolish proposition since Jephthah had evidenced a great knowledge of Israel’s history (11:15-26) and would have known the LORD did not require, nor would accept human sacrifice]. 

Because she was a virgin and his only child (11:34, 37), Jephthah’s dedication of his daughter was a very real sacrifice for both, knowing she would never bear a child and heir (11:37-40).

Judges 12 – The Hypocrisy of the Ephraimites

You may recall the tribe of Ephraim had complained when Gideon failed to call them to battle against the Midianites (Judges 8:1).  On that occasion, Gideon pacified their complaints by demeaning his own achievements (8:2-3).

Jephthah, however, was in no mood to hear the hypocritical protests and threat of Ephraim after they had refused to go to war when he summoned them (12:1-3). When Ephraim could not share in the spoils of victory, they were ready to war against Jephthah and the Gileadites (12:4).  The civil war between Gilead and Ephraim resulted in the deaths of forty-two thousand Ephraimites (12:5-6).

I close with a word of encouragement: Jephthah, like Joseph, stands out as a most unlikely hero. Joseph was rejected by his brothers, but emerged in Egypt to be the one God chose to save his brethren. Jephthah, the son of a harlot and rejected by his brothers, was the man God prepared to deliver Israel from the Ammonites.

Lesson: I don’t know who you are or what you are; but if you are willing to humble yourself and yield to God, He will use you (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith