Two Types of Promises in the Bible
Vows and Oaths
In your Bible the word Promise, including every tense, is used a total of 115 times. Only seven are not God’s promises. All of those seven have a bad connotation because they are promises of men. God really has no use for any promise a man makes. God is the only one who always keeps his promises. We then must be very careful when we open our mouths and promise something to God. In this study we will look at vows and oaths in the Bible.
Prime examples of vows in the Bible have this in common: They start with IF … (God does what is requested) THEN … (I will do what I promise).
1 Samuel 1:11 and Hannah’s vow unto the Lord
Judges 11:30-31 and Jephthah’s vow unto the Lord
Genesis 28:18-21 and Jacob’s vow unto the Lord
When men make oaths, they swear to preform them by something that is higher than themselves. (Heb.6:16), such as swearing to tell the truth in court, or the President swears to uphold the constitution. In each case they are considered “under oath”.
God gave an oath to Abraham (Ex.6:8,Gen26:3,22:16) and had to swear by himself (Heb.6:13)
It eventually became law in Israel to swear by the Lord (Deu.6:13)
(Matt.5:33-37) Jesus states that we are not to “forswear” (Lev.19:12) or swear falsely or perjure one’s self. He also states we should “swear not at all”. In (James 5:12) be careful “lest you fall into condemnation”. No oath should be necessary to confirm or strengthen what you say, the more that is added, the more lies appear.
So what does God say?
(Numbers 30:2) If you vow a vow, or swear an oath you better do it.
(Deu.23:21-23) It will be required of thee.
(Ecc.5:1-5) Better not to vow, than to vow and not pay. So don’t be hasty (Prov.20:25)
(Ps.50:14) Pay your vows, Jonah evidently made a vow to God and finally decided to pay up (Jonah 2:9)