Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.
In the course of life in the OT theocracy Israelites would make vows committing themselves, their home, animals, or property to the Lord. Sometimes such vows would involve sacrifices, fasting (cf. v. 13), or consecration of oneself for a time as a Nazirite (ch. 6).
Such vows were to the Lord and thus sacred (Lev 22:18-23, 31-33), whether made with careful forethought or rash impetuousness (Deut 23:21-23; Prov 20:25; Eccl 5:4). The Lord took one’s word as his bond and personal commitment. Truthfulness mattered, for they were not to lie (Exod 20:16), nor were they to glibly use the Lord’s name in a casual, apathetic manner in making vows (Exod 20:7).
Such vows would obviously affect and influence the home and household. God’s created order for the home established the husband as the head of the wife and fathers having authority over their young, unmarried children (vv. 3, 9, 16). When a woman “in her youth” (vv. 3, 16) or as a wife made any vow to the Lord, her father or husband had the authority to annul it because of the effect it would have on the household. He must do so “on the day he hears” such vows because vows were to be promptly carried out (Deut 23:21-23; Eccl 5:4). If, however, he said nothing, the vow would stand; his silence gave his consent.
One example of a wife making such a vow is Hannah (1 Sam 1:11).
- Truth matters. One should view every word spoken with utmost seriousness, not just sincere promises or the signing of formal documents (Matt 5:33-37). God takes every word seriously now and will judge such at the final judgment (Matt 12:36-37).
- Fathers and husbands are responsible for what happens in their homes. They must be involved in their families’ lives with loving interest and concern. Though largely rejected in today’s culture, fathers and husbands are still responsible to God for their wives and families. That has not changed, nor has their authority, which is rooted in God’s created order (Eph 5:23; 1 Tim 2:13).
- Similarly, Silence gives consent. This is a principle applicable to every strata of life: domestic, civil, and religious. Such silence of consent can be of great joyous and truly righteous circumstances such as Hannah’s vow to the Lord (1 Sam 1:11). The silence of consent can also be a grievous sin; Adam should have overruled Eve, but by his silence (Gen 3:6, “her husband with her”) he confirmed and consented to her decision, plunging their home and descendants into ruin.
- Women are not doormats. Far from it; the fact that they could make binding vows and that there was an age limitation of single women demonstrates this.