God’s Meaning of a Vow
All of us have made a vow or promise at one time or another in our lives. It can be from a simplest vow of “I promise to call you when I get home,” to a much more complicated vow like the marriage vows we take on our wedding day. Both of these examples are vows. However, if the former is broken, the consequence is that your loved one is concerned until they receive a text from you. If the latter is not followed through with and the marriage covenant is broken, then lives will be forever changed and the family will be severely hurt.
What is the meaning of a vow? The dictionary defines it as a solemn promise, pledge, or personal commitment.
How does God define vows? Deuteronomy 23:21-23 says “21When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be a sin to you. 22But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. 23That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.”
In Numbers 30 it says “2If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”
Jesus even warned about taking vows and oaths saying “33Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord,’ 34But I say to you, do not swear at all; neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:33-37.
There is someone we can learn from in the Old Testament named Jephthah in Judges 11.
He was a Gileadite and a mighty man of valor in the time of the judges. Jephthah may have been a mighty man of valor when it came to fighting wars; however, Jephthah made a very big mistake by making an unwise and rash vow. He vowed to God that if God gave him victory over the Ammonites, then he would sacrifice the first thing that came out of his door when he got home.
I have no idea what he thought would come out to meet him when he got home other than his family members. Perhaps he was thinking it would be one of his animals? But sadly, it was his only child, his daughter, who came out to meet him when he arrived. Although the Spirit of the Lord was upon him during his war with the Ammonites, it clearly was not upon him when he decided to make that vow. He did not pray to the Lord or seek counsel from the Lord prior to making his vow.
Jephthah’s vow affected not only himself, but also his daughter in that he consecrated her to God never allowing her to marry due to a foolish vow that he made.
Next time you feel obligated to make a promise or vow, look to the Old Testament to see it is better to make no vows and in the words of Jesus do not swear at all and just let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No”.
Fellow Bond Servant of Christ - Daryl