Vowing and Paying
Ecclesiastes 5:4-6
When you vow a vow to God, defer not to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you have vowed.…

We may regard the subject of vows in two aspects.

I. THEIR CHARACTER. They may be of:

1. An entirely obligatory character. We may solemnly promise to God that which we may not withhold without sin. But this may be shortly summed up in one word - ourselves. We owe to him ourselves, all that we are and have, our powers and our possessions. And the first thing that becomes us all is to present ourselves before God in a most solemn act of surrender, in which we deliberately resolve and undertake to yield to him our heart and life thenceforth and for ever. In this great crisis of our spiritual history we make the one supreme vow with which all others are incomparable. It should be made in the exercise of all the powers of our nature; not under any kind of compulsion, but as freely as fully, as intelligently as heartily. It is one that is, of course, to be renewed, and this both regularly, and also on all special occasions. It is a vow to be confirmed every time we bow in the sanctuary, and every time we gather at the table of the Lord.

2. Optional. And of these vows which may be described as optional, there are

(1) those that are conditional; as when a man promises that if God give him wealth he will devote a large proportion of it to his direct service (see Genesis 28:22); or that if God restore his health he will consecrate an his time and all his possessions to the proclamation of his truth.

(2) Those that are unconditional; as when

(a) a man determines that thenceforth he will give a certain fixed proportion of his income to the cause of Christ; or

(b) when he pledges himself to abstain from some particular indulgence which is hurtful to himself or is a temptation to others.


1. With devout deliberation. It is a serious mistake for a man to undertake that which he fails to carry out.

(1) It is offensive to God (ver. 4).

(2) It is injurious to the man himself; he is in a distinctly worse spiritual position after failure than he would have been if he had not entered into an engagement (ver. 5). We should not promise anything in ignorance of ourselves, and then lose our self-respect by a humiliating withdrawal.

2. In a spirit of prompt and cheerful obedience. What we vow to do we should do

(1) without delay, "deferring not." There is always danger in delay. To-morrow we shall be further in time from the hour of solemn resolution, and its force will be lessened by the distance. Also

(2) cheerfully; for we may be sure that God loveth a cheerful promise-keeper - one that does what he undertook to do, although it proves to be of greater dimensions or to be attended with severer effort than he at first imagined it would.

3. With patient persistency; not allowing anything to come between himself and his honorable fulfillment.

(1) Are we fully redeeming our vows of Christian consecration in the daily life that we are living?

(2) Are we paying the vows we made in some dark hour of need (see Psalm 66:13, 14)? - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: When you vow a vow to God, don't defer to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay that which you vow.

Vanity in Religion: 3. Broken Vows
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