Day 80: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows, part 2

IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation, or mental reservation [k]. It cannot oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man’s own hurt [l]. Nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics, or infidels [m].

[k] Jeremiah 4:2 And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.
Psalm 24:4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

[l] 1 Samuel 25:22 So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall. Ver.32 And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: Ver.33 And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand. Ver.34 For in very deed, as the Lord God of Israel liveth, which hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
Psalm 15:4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.

[m] Ezekiel 17:16 As I live, saith the Lord God, surely in the place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he brake, even with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die. Ver.18 Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape. Ver.19 Therefore thus saith the Lord God; As I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head.
Joshua 9:18 And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. Ver.19 But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them.
with 2 Samuel 21:1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

V. A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the like religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness [n].

[n] Isaiah 19:21 And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it.
Ecclesiastes 5:4 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. Ver.5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Ver.6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?
Psalm 61:8 So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.
Psalm 66:13 I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows, Ver.14 Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.

VI. It is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone [o]: and that it may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith, and conscience of duty, in way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for the obtaining of what we want, whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties: or, to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto [p].

[o] Psalm 76:11 Vow, and pay unto the Lord your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.
Jeremiah 44:25 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. Ver.26 Therefore hear ye the word of the Lord, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the Lord, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord God liveth.

[p] Deuteronomy 23:21 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. Ver.22 But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. Ver.23 That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.
Psalm 50:14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.
Genesis 28:20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, Ver.21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: Ver.22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
1 Samuel 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
Psalm 66:13 I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows, Ver.14 Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
Psalm 132:2 How he sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob; Ver.3 Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; Ver.4 I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, Ver.5 Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

VII. No man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he has no promise of ability from God [q]. In which respects, popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself [r].

[q] Acts 23:12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. Ver.14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.
Mark 6:26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.
Numbers 30:5 But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the Lord shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her. Ver.8 But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the Lord shall forgive her. Ver.12 But if her husband hath utterly made them void on the day he heard them; then whatsoever proceeded out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning the bond of her soul, shall not stand: her husband hath made them void; and the Lord shall forgive her. Ver.13 Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.

[r] Matthew 19:11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. Ver.12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
1 Corinthians 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Ver.9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
1 Peter 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
1 Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

End of Lesson, Day 80

For Further Study

CHAPTER XXII. - Of Lawful Oaths and Vows - Commentary by Gordon H. Clark
Chapter XXII. Of Lawful Oaths and Vows - Exposition by Robert Shaw
Chapter 22: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows - Commentary by A.A. Hodge

The Nature of an Oath

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