Recently, I had the opportunity to share a message on behavior and emotions with our weekly Women’s Bible study. We looked at several stories in the Bible that deal with how we can allow our emotions to drive our behavior. Some of the stories we looked at were about negative emotions; fear, anger, resentment and how these emotions can affect our behavior is disastrous ways. It seems easier to understand how we can allow negative emotions to affect our behavior, but what about good emotions? Emotions such has happiness, joy, elation? Can these feelings lead us to behavior that can also be disastrous?
Come along with me and let’s take a peak at just such a story.
There was a man named Jephthah (pronounced Jeff-the) and he was a mighty warrior. He was fighting against a people group called the Ammonites. Jephthah made a vow to God; “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” Judges 11: 30-31. God did as Jephthah asked and gave him victory over the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned home, the “whatever” that came out of his house to meet him was his daughter; his only child. There was no way he could have known his only child would be the first to greet him. At the same time, I sense he was so confident at the prospect of a victory over the Ammonites that he allowed, perhaps, feelings of elation, joy even giddiness to compel him to make his hasty vow to the Lord.
Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly what happened to Jephthah’s daughter. Some theorize she was offered literally as a burnt offering, others believe she was set apart never to marry thus squashing the hope of Jephthah of having any descendants to carry on the family line.