A vow is simply a promise, often affirmed by an oath.  Although the word ‘vow’ is not used, we read in Genesis 15:18, “In the same day the LORD MADE A COVENANT with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”  To make a covenant is to promise, or to vow to someone.  Here we find the Lord making a promise to Abram.  We find a little later in Genesis 21, that Abraham swore to Abimelech that he would not lie, or deal falsely with him.  You can read that in Genesis 21:22-24.  In swearing this oath to Abimelech, he ‘swore by’ the Lord.

In Genesis 22, we finding the Lord ‘swearing’ to Abraham to make him a “father of many nations.” Verses 16-17 say, “And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.”  Concerning this event, we read in Hebrews 6:13-14, “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.”

We have the words of Solomon to us in Ecclesiastes 5:5, “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”  It is so important that if we do make someone a promise that we do EVERYTHING we can do to keep it.  It dishonors the name of the Lord if we, as believers on the Lord Jesus, make promises and do not keep those promises.  As Solomon said, “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow…”  If we are not certain that we can keep the promise, it’s better than we not promise at all.  Deuteronomy 23:23 tells us, “That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform…”  It is no light matter for us to make a promise, or take a vow, and then not do what we promised to do.

Let’s consider the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 5:34-37, “But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”  It seemed to be customary then, as it is now, that some would casually swear, or make vows.  Things such as, “I swear I will pay you back tomorrow,” or, “As God is my witness, I am not lying to you.”  The Lord absolutely forbids us to practice this type of lighthearted vows.  Instead, the word, or promise, of a child of God should be so sound and dependable, that all we need to say is, “Yes, I will pay you back”, or “No, I am not lying to you.”  We are instructed in Romans 12:17, “Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”  (220.8)