In the first verse Moses is reminding the people that they have made vows to God and these are expected to be kept. A vow is a solemn promise. At this point in history a man’s word was as binding as a signature is today. Often an offering would also be made to make the vow irrefutable. If you broke this vow, then you would no longer be trusted, and this would cause a break down in the relationship. It is as important today as it was back then to keep our promises.
God takes our vows very seriously. In Proverbs 20:25 it says: “It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows”. There are many instances in the Bible where people have made vows to God – some were rash and unwise such as in the case of Jephthah in Judges 11:30-31, or Herod Antipas in Mark 6:22-23. Whereas others who kept to their word were rewarded, such as Jacob in Genesis 28:20 and Job in Job 27:2. We need to be careful about making rash promises as we may well be held to account to fulfil what we have promised even if the final result is not what we had originally planned.
How often do we swear or promise to do something and then realise we have been foolish in what we have said? As people of God we are called to keep our word. In Matthew 5:33-37 Jesus warns us about making vows.
Isn’t it interesting that some people seem to finish their sentence with “I promise.” Why do they feel that they need to promise to do something? If whatever we say is the truth, then we do not need to back this up by promising. If we are known as people of our word, then others will not doubt that we will do as we have said. If we are known as trustworthy then others will know that when we speak, we are sincere. The power of Jesus when the truth is spoken over people is more than we will ever comprehend.
2 Peter 1:4:
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.