|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:4-8 When a person made engagements rashly, he suffered his mouth to cause his flesh to sin. The case supposes a man coming to the priest, and pretending that his vow was made rashly, and that it would be wrong to fulfil it. Such mockery of God would bring the Divine displeasure, which might blast what was thus unduly kept. We are to keep down the fear of man. Set God before thee; then, if thou seest the oppression of the poor, thou wilt not find fault with Divine Providence; nor think the worse of the institution of magistracy, when thou seest the ends of it thus perverted; nor of religion, when thou seest it will not secure men from suffering wrong. But though oppressors may be secure, God will reckon for all.
Verse 5. - Better is it that thou shouldest not vow. There is no harm in not vowing (Deuteronomy 23:22); but a vow once made becomes of the nature of an oath, and its non-performance is a sin and sacrilege, and incurs the punishment of false swearing. We gather from the Talmud that frivolous excuses for the evasion of vows were very common, and called for stern repression, One sees this in our Lord's references (Matthew 5:33-37; Matthew 23:16-22). St. Paul severely reprehends those women who break their vow of widowhood, "having condemnation, because they have rejected their first faith" (1 Timothy 5:12).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Better is it that thou shouldest not vow,.... For a vow is an arbitrary thing; a man is not bound to make it, and while he vows not, it is in his own power, and at his option, whether he will do this or that, or not; but when he has once vowed, he is then brought under an obligation, and must perform; see Acts 5:4; and therefore it is better not to vow; it is more acceptable to God, and, it is better for a man;
than that thou shouldest vow and not pay; for this shows great weakness and folly, levity and inconstancy, and is resented by the Lord.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. (De 23:21, 23).
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