When you shall vow a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not slack to pay it: for the LORD your God will surely require it of you…
It is not obligatory to make vows; it is obligatory to fulfill them. We are often free to contract an obligation; we are not free to violate it. A man is not bound to marry; having married, he is bound to cherish his wife.
I. VOWS IMPLY SPECIAL ACTS OF KINDNESS ON THE PART OF GOD. The ordinary course of God's bounty baffles verbal description. The forethought, the active energy, the well-laid plans, the unslumbering attention, the changeless affection, which are required for the preservation of human life, no language can express. But this is not all that God does for us. In times of unusual perplexity, special guidance is often vouchsafed to us. When surrounding events seemed most adverse to our interests, in answer to prayer, sudden deliverance has come. A precious life was in jeopardy: human help was unavailing; but God graciously interposed, and midnight suddenly became a summer noon.
II. VOWS IMPLY, ON OUR PART, DEFECTIVE PIETY. Vows are made under the influence of excessive fear or from an influx of sudden joy. In a time of sharp distress, a man will put himself under special obligation, if God will grant his request. Or, when some expected good has fallen to one's lot, in the impulse of sudden gladness we vow to devote some special offering unto God. Now, this is not wrong. Still there is something better. It is better to be always in a frame of trustful feeling, so that we may welcome whatever God ordains, and realize that what God does is best. It is better to rely upon his promise that help shall come in times of need! It is better to cultivate the habit of frequent offerings to God's cause, so that no vow is needed to prick us up to the full discharge of duty. The vow implies that we cannot trust ourselves at all times to give to God his due. Therefore our endeavor should be to cultivate a childlike and a steadfast faith. It is good that the "heart be established with grace."
III. VOWS CREATE FOR US A NEW OBLIGATION. Having made a debt, we are bound to pay it; but it is better not to accumulate a debt. Men lay a trap to catch themselves. Conscious of deficient trust and love towards God, they take advantage of some favorable state of feeling to make new obligations from which it shall be difficult to escape. In their better moods of mind they create new motives and new sanctions for religious conduct, which they cannot remove when the better feeling has vanished. They use the rising tide to bear their barque away. They utilize summer piety to provide for winter coldness. But having framed a religious vow, truth requires that it should be scrupulously kept. To violate a vow would injure our own soul's life - would deaden and stupefy conscience, would justly provoke our God. No common sin is this. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.