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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 30

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-16

Chapter 30

Now as we get into chapter thirty we are dealing with the law of vows. When you make a promise unto God, God takes it seriously and God expects you to keep your vow. God is not an Indian giver and He doesn't want you to be an Indian giver. He doesn't want you to make a vow or a promise and then break it. In fact, in the Bible it said, "it's better not to vow at all then to vow and to break it" ( Ecclesiastes 5:5 ).

Now, let it be known that God doesn't require you to make vows. Vows are something that a person does voluntarily. God doesn't demand that you make a vow of certain things unto Him. A vow is always something that is done on your part, purely voluntarily. It is something that people often do "I promise that I'm gonna give to God this, that or the other. I promise I'm gonna do this for God. Lord, I make a vow with you, you know, and I'm gonna do this and all". God doesn't require it. And it's better not to do it than to do it and break it. If you make a vow unto the Lord it is very important that you keep that vow. And so chapter thirty actually deals with the vows that are made unto the Lord.

And if a man vows a vow unto the LORD, [verse two] and swears an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to that which is proceedeth out of his mouth. Now if a woman also vows a vow unto the LORD, and binds herself with a bond, being in her father's house in her youth; her father if he hears it can disannul it. ( Numbers 30:2-5 )

Now a young girl living in her father's house to make a vow unto God and if her father is there and hears the vow, he has the capacity of disallowing it. But if he hears it and doesn't disallow it then the vow is to stand. In other words, he hears it, he doesn't disallow it; it means that it is binding now and she must keep that vow to the Lord.

We have in the Old Testament cases where vows were made which were very unfortunate. They were, you might say, bad vows. Quite often when a person was going into an uncomfortable situation he vowed, "Lord, if you will help me, you know, win this battle, then I will-". Jephthah said, "Lord, if you will give me victory over the enemy then I will offer unto You as a sacrifice the first thing that comes out of my house" ( Judges 11:31 ). What a tragic thing his daughter, virgin daughter was the first thing to come out of his house to greet him in his victory when he came home and it was just a horrible vow. It had been better that he never made that kind of a vow. It was a ridiculous vow, actually.

Saul was guilty of a ridiculous vow. When Jonathan woke up early one morning and feeling just really great, looking around finding the rest of the army still asleep, he woke up his armorbearer and he said, "You know, I've just been lying here thinking. Maybe the Lord wants to give the Philistines into the hands of Israel today. And if the Lord wants to give the Philistines into the hands of Israel, he doesn't need the whole army. He could deliver the Philistines into the hand of two people as well as the whole army. It doesn't matter to God. If he wants to defeat the Philistines today he doesn't need the whole army. He can just do it with a couple of us. So let's go over and see if the Lord wants to deliver the Philistines today".

And so Jonathan, his armorbearer got up and they slipped out of the camp and they headed over to the camp of the Philistines. Jonathan said, "Now this is risky business. We want to make sure that God's in this thing and he wants to deliver them. So when we get close to the Philistines, if they say to us, 'Hey, you guys come up here and we'll show you a thing or two', then we'll know that God wants to deliver them and we'll, you know, take off after them. But if they say, 'Hey you guys you wait down there and we're gonna come down and show you a thing or two', then we'll know that God isn't gonna deliver the Philistines today and we'll get back to camp just as fast as we can. Sort of a venture in faith. I love them.

So Jonathan and his armorbearer headed over towards the Philistines. When they got close to the Philistines, the sentry spotted them and they said, "Hey, you guys come up here and we'll show you a thing or two". And Jonathan said, "All right man, that's what we're looking for". So he and his armorbearer scrabbled up the hill, the scripture said. They were anxious to get to those guys. Man, they jumped into the camp of the Philistines they began to smite those guys.

The Philistines began to fall back from before them; they began to retreat. And over on the other side of the hill, or the outside of the valley, on the hill on the other side, Saul woke up. Rubbing his eyes he looked over to the camp of his enemies and he saw the Philistines in disarray and running, and two guys in the middle wiping them out. And Saul said, "Quickly number. Who's missing?" And so they counted off and they said "It's Jonathan and his armorbearer." And Saul made a foolish vow. He said, "Cursed be the man who eats anything today until Saul has been avenged of all of his enemies". Foolish vow; cursing, putting a curse upon anybody who would eat anything that day until Saul had been avenged of his enemies.

So, it's better not to make vows really. But some people like to make them. It makes you feel better or something. So if you make them, make sure you keep them. But with a man, you make a vow and that's it; it's binding. But with a young girl living at home, she makes a vow, it's not binding except her father let it go. If he hears it and doesn't say anything, then it becomes a binding vow.

Now the same is true if a girl is engaged to a husband and he hears the vow that she makes. He is able also to disallow that vow. But if a widow or a divorced woman makes a vow, then they are bound to that vow. And then a married woman making a vow, her husband can disallow it. He can say, "Oh no, you don't do that" you know. She can say, "Well, I'm gonna give our house to the Lord." He says, "Oh, no you don't". So the husband can disallow the vow that the wife makes. If he doesn't, then it becomes a binding vow. So the law of vows here in the thirtieth chapter of Numbers.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Numbers 30". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/numbers-30.html. 2014.
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