Ecclesiastes 5:1-7; Psalm 84:1-4, 10
To make a vow (what we often call “a pledge”) – nadar – is a serious thing. It should never be taken lightly. A nadar means the act of verbally devoting something or a person to the service of God. It can be positive or negative in intent. In other words, it may be a vow to do something for God, or give something to God. On the other hand it may be a vow to NOT do something because of the relationship with God. It involves promising God something. It is a freewill offering. Laws concerning vows can be found in Numbers 30.
Biblical vows were both conditional and unconditional. Genesis 28:20-22 is an example of a conditional vow. Usually they are preceded by the condition, “If.” God ALWAYS considers an unconditional vow (a pledge) to be binding. Deut 23:22 says that if someone promises something to God he is obliged to fulfill his promise. The Biblical vow is ALWAYS to God. This word never refers to a promise made between individual human beings.
Almost anything can be vowed to God. A person can vow himself to service. Land, houses and possessions are even Biblical examples of vows that have been made. God will not accept any vow that is an abomination to Him, however, such as the wage of a harlot. Both men and women can make vows. Vows, however, are not a religious obligation. They are voluntary acts of devotion and love. Biblical examples show that they either preceded or followed divine blessing and were accompanied by joy.
In our lesson for today verse 4 states the rash vows should never be made. It fact, it is better not to make a vow (verse 5) than to not pay it. Proverbs 20:25 says, “It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows.” A vow is an expression of love, Thanksgiving, zeal and devotion to God. The context indicates that to make a vow in haste (vs. 1), to be rash in declaring what you will do for God (vs. 2), and then not to fulfill the vow (vs. 4,5) is to cause your flesh to sin (vs. 6). It is considered to be obnoxious to God for someone to say, “Oh, I made a mistake,” or “I didnt really mean it.” To make a vow is an act of worship that is not required but once done is binding.
Two special vows should be mentioned. The Nazarite Vow of Num 6:13ff and the herem of Num 21:1.
(Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament) (Keil and Delitzsch)(Vines Complete Dictionary) (Smiths Bible Dictionary)