Vows in the Bible
A vow is a promise to God. A believer may make a promise to God because of some blessing received or may desire to make a promise because he wants a specific request from God. Such a promise must then be carried out. There are around 30 biblical references to vows in the Old Testament. Jesus gave a commandment concerning making a vow: “Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord” (Matthew 5:33-37).
Because we don’t know what the future will bring (James 4:14), we should not rush to make vows. The Bible says, “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. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5). Making a vow before God is a very serious matter.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1–10 shows how they failed to be honest in keeping their vow. The couple made a promise to the Lord to give Him the entire amount of the sale of the land they owned. But then they decided to keep some of the money and give the rest to the Lord and they lied to the apostles saying that it was the whole amount of the sale. Ananias and Sapphira were not obliged to give all the money to the church but they should have been honest in bringing the proceeds they promised.
Also, the Bible gives the story of Jephthah who did a hasty foolish vow to the Lord (Judges 11:29-40). Jephthah was leading Israel in battle against the Ammonites. And before the battle, he made a vow that he will offer the Lord whoever comes first out of his home to meet him if he returned victorious. When the Lord gave him the victory and returned to his home, his daughter was the one that came to meet him first. And Jephthah carried out his vow.
In contrast, we read the story of Hanna, who offered a proper vow which she also fulfilled (in I Samuel 1). Hanna the wife of Elkanah was barren and she desired a child. Though Elkanah treated her with love and kindness, his other wife, Peninnah, who had children, shamed Hanna continually. So, Hanna vowed that if the Lord gave her a son, she would give him to God for His service (1 Samuel 1:10-11). God heard Hanna and gave her a son (verses 19-20). God had fulfilled His part of the agreement and Hanna kept her vow to Him (1 Samuel 1:27-28). And the Son of Hanna became the great prophet Samuel. And the Lord blessed Hanna with five other children beside Samuel.
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In His service,