Ecclesiastes 5:2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
This passage of scripture speaks to us of the sacredness of vows that are made to God and man. The way we treat God will be reflected in the way we treat our fellowmen, and thus the Bible encourages us to think soberly before making solid commitments of any kind. The habit of making flippant promises brings us into disrepute and throws about us an air of un-trustworthiness. When making vows, promises, or commitments of any kind, we should carefully weigh the pros and cons of the responsibilities that come as a result, and we should make our decisions only after taking the matter to the Lord in prayer. This method of making decisions would save us many a heartache and financial embarrassment.
A prominent example of what the Bible is referring to can be found in the experience of Joshua and the Gibeonites. Being afraid of the power of God manifested in behalf of His people, the Gibeonites resorted to deception in order to extract a commitment of peace from the Jews who were not supposed to enter into any treaty with the surrounding nations. After the treaty was made however, the Jews realized that they had been deceived, and became very upset at the fraud that was practiced upon them. However because of the serious nature of vows, they decided not to cancel their agreement with the Gibeonites. Let's read:
Joshua 9:3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, 4 They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; 5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. 6 And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us. 7 And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you? 9 And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the Lord thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 11 Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us. 14 And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord.
Verse 14 holds the key to success or failure in all of the vicissitudes and experiences of life. If the children of Israel had consulted God first, He would have revealed the plot to them, and thus they would have avoided making a serious mistake. However, the agreement being ratified, they were not at liberty to reverse it on account of a false representation by their neighbors, for vows are to be held sacred , whether made to God or man. Let's read:
Joshua 9:16 And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them. 18 And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. 19 But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. 20 This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them.
This experience of the Hebrews is pregnant with instructions for us in our day, for we often make similar mistakes by rushing into contracts and agreements without seeking God first. Like Joshua and the Israelites, we often enter into contracts, sign mortgage and car notes without first carefully reading the fine print and taking the matter to the Lord in prayer, and then later on, when we realize the extent of our obligations, we become discouraged and perplexed. These experiences can be avoided if we ask God to take the lead in any major decision we might face. God knows the end from the beginning, and thus He is able to advise or warn us of issues we may not be able to see in the future.
We therefore end our brief commentary with a text and a promise, which if adopted and implemented, will save us many an unnecessary heartache. Let's read:
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
May God grant to us grace and humility to adopt this method of making decisions, so that vows to God and man may be kept and honored. "Good night" and God bless!