Twice in today’s Bible reading* we see people making vows to God. The first is a judge named Jephthah. Although human sacrifice was strictly forbidden to God’s people he made a vow that if God would deliver the Ammonites to him, he promised to sacrifice the first person that went through the doorway when he arrived home. (Judges 11:30) It was his virgin daughter, his only child.
The second person to make a vow was Manoah and his wife. Actually, this vow was implied and it was for herself and on behalf of a son yet to be born to them. It was a Nazarite vow which promised to never drink alcohol, not to eat anything unclean, and to not cut his hair. (Judges 11:5, 14)
Better that you do not vow than that you vow and not fulfill it.
Ecclesiastes 5:5 (CSB)
Vows are serious things. Wedding vows are good things … if we’ll keep them. Jephthah foolishly vowed to do something that God had forbidden. And we will see soon that Samson doesn’t keep his Nazarite Vow. Both were bad choices.
Have you ever made a vow. You may not have made the vow out loud, but you may have still made one. Many years ago, I made a vow. I had been treated very badly by a church and I said that I would never put myself in similar situation to be hurt by a church I was serving in. I was out of vocational ministry for thirteen years following that vow.
At a retreat, I heard God ask how that vow was working out for me. I held out my hands and asked God to take what I thought my ministry was supposed to look like and give to me He wanted my ministry to look like. And you know what? One week later, I was in a pulpit preaching God’s word to a small church.
If you have made a vow, go back and make it right. Either fulfill it or pray for God to forgive you for making the vow.
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: