And you shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.
I. THE SIGNIFICATION OF THE TERMS.
II. THE NATURE OF THE SEVERAL VICES INCLUDED IN THIS PROHIBITION.
1. The highest and most presumptuous degree is perjury; when a man solemnly calls God to witness to the truth of that which he either knows to be false or does not know to be true.
2. The next degree is that indecent, as well as wicked, custom of rash swearing in common conversation.
(1) Of which sin the first aggravation is, that they who are guilty of it are in perpetual danger of the crime of perjury. For he who uses himself to swear habitually will never attend carefully that what he swears to be true.
(2) But if the danger of perjury could certainly be avoided (as it never can be by habitual swearers), yet to call upon God perpetually as a witness to trivial matters, is manifest want of reverence and want of a just sense of God and religion. And this fault is the more inexcusable because there cannot here be pretended, as in most other vices, any natural temptation.
3. Scoffing, blaspheming, or speaking reproachfully of religion. This is what the Psalmist reckons in the highest degree of sins, where he distinguishes offenders into three several ranks (Psalm 1:1).
4. Careless and inconsiderate vows. When the matter of them is unjust, as in the case of the Corban among the Jews, who hypocritically dedicated that to the service of God and for the use of the Temple, which they ought to have employed in relieving the necessities of their destitute parents (Mark 7:2). Or when the matter of a vow is impossible or unreasonable, or the thing vowed be unprofitable and of no tendency to promote true religion, or the manner of making the vow be rash and irreligious.
5. Too frequent familiar and irreverent mention of God in ordinary conversation, without an habitual sense and just awe of Him upon our minds; men are very apt to run into some degree of the fault forbidden here.
III. THE ARGUMENT BROUGHT TO ENFORCE THE PROHIBITION. "I am the Lord." The Lord, that is, he whose sovereignty and supreme dominion or authority over us gives Him a right to demand, and whose continual mercy and goodness towards us gives Him reason to expect that we should, in an equal sense both of duty and gratitude, pay all possible obedience to Him. The Lord, who made and governs all things, whose power is irresistible, and His kingdom infinite and eternal, who will not be mocked, nor hold them guiltless that take His name in vain. Will not hold them guiltless; that is, will certainly and severely punish them.
(S. Clarke, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.