A Gentle Answer
Gideon led the Israelites in a decisive victory over the Midianites and Amalelites. After the battle, men from Ephraim complained that they were not included in his fighting force. Gideon responded humbly by saying what they did in capturing the escaping kings was far greater than his victory. Their anger subsided (Judges 8:1-3).
Jephthah led the Israelites in a decisive victory over the Ammonites. Once again, men from Ephraim complained that they were not included. Jephthah responded gruffly, noting that he had summoned Ephraim but they did not respond. The result was a civil war in which 42,000 Ephraimites were killed (Judges 12:1-6).
Despite the fact that he was right about Ephraim’s inconsistency, Jephthah needed the lesson of Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up strife.”