Judges 11:29-40

Talks for Growing Christians

Jephthah’s Foolish Vow and Victory Over the Ammonites

Judges 11:29-40

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Lesson Number 19

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Sometimes God superimposes His strength on great natural strengths.
  2. Sometimes God gives victory in spite of grave human mistakes.

Practical Application

  1. Let's not make rash and foolish vows.


  1. What foolish vow did Jephthah make?
  2. Did Jephthah actually sacrifice his daughter? List arguments for and against.
  3. Give two examples of timid believers on which God superimposed His strength.
  4. Give two examples of strong believers on which God superimposed His strength.
  5. Does the Lord take away natural abilities and strengths and substitute His strength?


  1. If he was given the victory in battle, he promised to offer the first thing that came out of the doors of his house when he returned. Sadly, he watched his only child, a daughter, come out to meet him when he returned from victory.
  2. Arguments for: .a. it's the most normal interpretation of the text as a burnt offering is the same Hebrew word used for blood sacrifices b. when he made the vow, he could have been thinking of an animal coming out c. since he had been living near the border, perhaps he had become desensitized to the pagan practices around him, or he may have been ignorant of the Mosaic law against human sacrifice. Arguments against: a. verse 31 may be translated to mean that the sacrifice would be dedicated to the Lord, if a person came out b. verses 37-39 seem to indicate that Jephthah's daughter expected to be dedicated to the Lord to a life of celibacy, not sacrifice c. he had made the vow after the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, thus it doesn't seem logical.
  3. Gideon and TimothyJephthah and Paul
  4. No, rather He superimposes His strength on believers.


  1. Are you a timid person? God can superimpose His strength on yours. Are you a strong person? God can superimpose His strength on yours. In either case, He can use you mightily in His kingdom. Just dedicate yourself to Him and to His service and great things will be accomplished for His glory.
  2. Have you ever made a foolish vow? God in no way condones such a vow, but He can give victory in spite of it. You don't have to be distressed by these foolish mistakes. Just as the Lord gave victory in battle, he can turn your foolishness to victory when you turn the issue over to Him. Then resolve to pray more to avoid making a mistake like that again.


  1. Be committed and dedicated in your life, your abilities, your work and your finances. Walk closely to the Lord to avoid making rash and foolish mistakes.

Key Verses

  • "Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah." Judges 11:29
  • "Jephthah made a vow to the Lord." Judges 11:30
  • "The Lord gave victory." Judges 11:32

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