“And it came to pass when he (Jephthah) saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! Thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me….’”
“A Daughter Remembered” Part 2
Words That Wound
“Although they are only breath, words which I command, are immortal.” Sappho
Have I ever spoken words to another person that changed their life?
What effect have another person’s words had on me?
“A broken bone can heal,
But the wound a word opens
Can fester forever.”
“There are worse words than cuss words, there are words that hurt.” Tillie Olsen
Having spent many years on the road traveling on business trips for the company I worked for, I know what it is like to arrive home stressed and pooped-out. When you are harried and bone-weary, the last thing you want to be faced with is a mountain of problems that have stacked up while you were out of town.
It is so much more enjoyable to arrive home and be welcomed with joyful celebration.
This is certainly something we can learn from the life of “A Daughter Remembered.”
Yesterday, as we began our reflection on the life of Jephthah’s daughter, we learned that children are treasures. Valued not because they are male or female and can provide family heirs. Nor are children given to us so we can try and mold them into little mini-me’s who will, we hope, live out in their lives our own unfulfilled dreams. Instead, children are unique gems. Precious treasures that when handled with skillful love and heavenly guidance, can fulfill God’s purpose for their own lives.
Today, we are looking at another lesson in the life of a young daughter we are remembering, and it is how we use words.
When Jephthah arrived home from battle, we find his daughter used her words to uplift, welcome and refresh. Rejoicing in the success of her father, Judges 11: 34 records that Jephthah’s daughter, “came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances.” This was a celebratory event. Daddy was home. No matter the lack of value Jephthah placed on his daughter, her actions and her joyfulness at his arrival tell us a lot about this girl. She was exuberant at the victory her father had and was unselfishly, desirous of sharing in his success.
Rather than show appreciation for his daughter’s love, Jephthah decided to take his frustration out on her. He knew full well his thoughtless words had caused him problems, yet we find in Judges 11: 35 he spoke this accusing phrase to his only child, “Thou art one of them that trouble me.” Author Pearl Strachan wrote, “Words have more power than atom bombs,” and I believe we can all agree with this statement.
While Jephthah must have been upset to see his daughter come out to meet him first, thus in his mind “sealing her doom,” the daughter’s actions were not her fault. She was responding, as women had for years. Applauding the valiant behavior of their men-folk. Lauding their success in war. And heralding their victory as a celebration of God’s favor.
Jephthah’s thoughtless response only underscores the lack of concern he had for his daughter’s feelings.
This is the lesson at the heart of our devotion today. Our words matter. They convey the force of who we are – not who we wish we were – but exactly who we are at any given moment.
I recognize this fact so keenly for at times I have let harsh words come from my mouth during times of unhappiness or stress. And I’ll say to myself, “Where did that come from?” The answer is simple: It came from Dorothy’s heart and mouth, for as King Solomon so correctly wrote in Proverbs 4: 23(K.J.V.), “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” I’ll go one step further, “Keep your heart for what is in it will one day, when you least expect it, come out of your mouth.”
In Job 6: 25, we are told the right words are forcible. But by the same token, I’ll add that wrong words are destructive.
How often I’ve said to myself, “I wish I hadn’t said that,” and yet, words once spoken to another cannot be retrieved. Yes, we can apologize and we should, with our actions, try to repair the damage we may have done – but take words back – it’s impossible! Maybe this is why King Solomon also advised, “Let thy words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5: 2).
Not long ago I was asked to write an article which was to be 500 words in length. I remember counting every word, repeatedly deleting the extra verbiage, trying to get my point across with the limited number of words I was allowed. It wasn’t easy. But as I wrote and rewrote, I noticed how much more readable the article became, the fewer words I used. This experience got me to thinking about a Polish Proverb which states, “Words must be weighed, not counted.” I have wondered, “If I weighed the effect of all my words, how many would I really end up speaking?”
When Jesus was on earth, one day as He was teaching in Capernaum, He told His followers that, “The words I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6: 63, K.J.V.). Christ’s words brought heavenly light into the lives of everyone He touched. As Mother Teresa wrote about the cause and effect of what comes out of our mouths she said, “Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.”
I know I pray each day that I will weigh the words I speak and that my words will switch-on the light of Christ’s love in the lives of those I meet.
“Words and eggs must be handled with care. Once broken they are impossible things to repair.”
“Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12: 36, K.J.V.)
O my God! Who – me?”
Carroll E. Simcox
“Father, make me quick to listen, but slow to speak.”
James 1: 19
Good News Bible
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
Psalm 19: 14
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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