Vows

Numbers 30:2–4 “If 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. … Also if a woman makes a vow to the Lord, and binds herself … in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow…and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand.”

Observation: Numbers 30 contains extensive details about vows—when they “stand” and when one can be released from them. But the overall thrust of the chapter is not only about vows themselves; it also addresses a headship or authority issue. 

A single woman or a man could make a vow and the vow would be perpetuated, or “binding.” But when a person was under the covering of someone else (a married woman under her husband or a young woman living at home with her father), and if her covering intervened in a timely way, then the vow could be cancelled. And since single people, whether male or female, were in effect, their own covering, they had to “live with” their vows, once made.

Application: When I think about what vows actually are, it’s no wonder God treated them seriously. Think of it like this. When petulance first begins to rear its head in a young child, it is immediately recognized for what it is: a test of wills, to see who will be in charge. Inattentive or inappropriate parenting in that moment has lasting impact. The child must learn that he or she is not to control the course of events; attitudes must come under submission to parental authority.

In making a vow I am saying to God, in effect, “I will be in charge of this particular area of my life. You may be my God, even my Savior, and even my Lord in most areas of my life, but I will handle this particular part, thank You very much.” 

And so a vow, even a “good” vow such as “I’ll never beat my wife,” or, “I’ll never marry an alcoholic,” has a binding influence on my life. God can become Lord of every other area of life, but by my vow, I have maintained control—I am on the throne—of that part of my life covered by the vow. 

Prayer: Lord, teach me not to vow, but to simply trust You for every need in my life. I ask You to bring to my remembrance any vows I may have made in the past, that I might repent of them and ask You to break them in Jesus’ name. I want You to be Lord over every area of my life. Thank You, Father.

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