Making Vows // Numbers 30:1-16
1. Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the LORD commands:
2. When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.
3. “When a young woman still living in her father’s house makes a vow to the LORD or obligates herself by a pledge
4. and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand.
5. But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the LORD will release her because her father has forbidden her.
6. “If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself
7. and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand.
8. But if her husband forbids her when he hears about it, he nullifies the vow that obligates her or the rash promise by which she obligates herself, and the LORD will release her.
9. “Any vow or obligation taken by a widow or divorced woman will be binding on her.
10. “If a woman living with her husband makes a vow or obligates herself by a pledge under oath
11. and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her and does not forbid her, then all her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand.
12. But if her husband nullifies them when he hears about them, then none of the vows or pledges that came from her lips will stand. Her husband has nullified them, and the LORD will release her.
13. Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself.
14. But if her husband says nothing to her about it from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or the pledges binding on her. He confirms them by saying nothing to her when he hears about them.
15. If, however, he nullifies them some time after he hears about them, then he is responsible for her guilt.”
16. These are the regulations the LORD gave Moses concerning relationships between a man and his wife, and between a father and his young daughter still living in his house.
God ordains a system of order and authority for the Israelite community. Within the family unit, the father is the highest authority and is responsible for protecting his wife and children. In this passage, we see how a father’s authority affects the vows that his young daughter makes. The general rule is that all vows made before the LORD must be fulfilled, but when a young daughter makes a vow and her father forbids it, she will be released from her obligations under the vow. This is not about control but protection; the father’s role is to ensure that his daughter does not bind herself to a vow that would ultimately do her more harm than good.
Just as a father has authority over his daughter’s vows, a husband has authority over his wife’s vows. When a husband hears his wife make a vow, he must respond by either confirming or nullifying the vow. If he remains silent, then his confirmation of the vow will be assumed, and if he then decides to nullify the vow after some time, he, not his wife, will be the one who bears the consequences of her wrongdoing. Again, this is not about superiority or dependency, but God caring for His people by establishing an order within relationships. This principle of a husband’s loving care and responsibility for his wife is reaffirmed in Ephesians 5:25 when Paul exhorts, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
– How have your parents protected you by forbidding a certain decision or action? How are you protecting and caring for the people over whom you have authority?
– Do you respect and submit to the authority figures that God has placed in your life? When has an authority figure protected you or forgiven you for your foolish actions?
A LETTER TO GOD:
Lord, You are the giver of authority. Help me to accept the authority and responsibility You have entrusted to me and to respond and receive the protection of authority You have placed over me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.