Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me….”
Judges 11: 31
King James Version
“A Daughter Remembered” Part VII
“Thoughts and Actions”
“I hold it true that thoughts are things
Endowed with bodies, breath, and wings.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Has my “thoughtlessness” ever caused pain to another person?
How did I seek to relieve the hurt I may have inflicted on another?
“Anger and worry are the enemies of clear thought.”
“To build may have to be the slow laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”
Sir Winston Churchill
Not long ago I had a conversation with someone I’ve known for years and during our exchange they made a comment that not only shocked me, it hurt me, deeply. To this day, a place in my heart bleeds a little when I think about their statement. Of course, the minute the words came out of their mouth, they seemed to sense my discomfort, and their retort was, “Oh, I didn’t mean what I said. It just slipped out.”
As I was working on our devotional today, this experience, which still stings, came to my mind as I read about Jephthah and the words he spoke so “thoughtlessly,” “whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me” (Judges 11: 31).
In our continuing study of Jephthah’s daughter, we will look at the trait of “thoughtlessness.” This word is defined as, “not stopping to think; careless, not giving thought; ill-considered; rash, not considerate of others; inconsiderate, stupid, senseless.” I’d say this about covers it – especially if you have ever been on the receiving end of behavior and verbiage that can be described as “thoughtless.”
However, in order to understand our text more completely, I want to go to the Hebrew translation of one phrase in Judges 11: 31, which is: “whatsoever cometh forth.”
First, let’s look at the word “whatsoever.” This word as a pronoun can refer to both genders and all numbers meaning who, which, what, that. As an adverb it can mean when, where, how. Enough for our grammar lesson! In simple language, what Jephthah was saying was, “anything or everything that comes forth, no matter how or from where.”
Second, let’s look at the words “cometh forth.” And we have to look at them together because the same Hebrew word is used for both these words and it can mean to go out or bring out. This is exactly what we find happened to Jephthah’s daughter, who was the first to come out with a spirit of joy to meet her father on his victorious return from battle.
But remember, a few days ago I told you I was praying that we would, together, “dig deeper” in our study of this tragic story as we uncover the lessons God has for us in our own lives today. Well, when I took God’s heavenly shovel in my hand and began to dig deeper, I found that the Hebrew word for “cometh forth” also means, “to escape.” Which is our 21st century phrase – to let it “slip-out.”
We know Jephthah’s daughter didn’t escape her untimely fate. So in this story what “escaped?” What “slipped-out?” It was the thoughtless words of Jephthah that escaped out of his mouth without thinking or without any concern for the consequences or impact his “escaping words” might have.
Famed author Natalie Goldberg really hit the nail on the head when she observed, “First thoughts have tremendous energy. It is the way the mind first flashes on something. The internal censor usually squelches them.”
I’m not saying every thought needs to be squelched, what I am saying is that thoughts become words and actions. When we blurt out words without thinking, we often find ourselves hung out! This is exactly what happened to Jephthah for his thoughtless words had a lifetime impact on his life and the lives of his family.
Sometimes when we hear the word “censure” the first thing that comes to mind is that someone is trying to stifle free thought, free speech and free expression. But I’d like to give you a little thought to chew on. The word “censure,” comes from Latin; and it means to “assess,” which means to evaluate or to take the value of something.
I ask you, what if we were to take the value of “whatsoever cometh forth from the door of our house,” the tabernacle of our lives, the windows of our hearts, and the doors of our mouths? I know that personally, the idea of assessing my thoughts and actions is a wise idea for there’s a lot of heart break I could have saved myself by never letting thoughtless deeds or words come forth from the door of my house.
May our prayer today be that of David when he wrote, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19: 14, N.I.V.).
“Lord give us wisdom before we speak,
Understanding while we listen,
Sensitivity towards those we meet,
And the perspective of Your kingdom.”
John L. Bell
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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