Numbers 30:1-2, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded. If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”
Last week we talked about how marriage is not only a covenant between the husband and wife but also a covenant with God. And God wants us to be covenant keepers. This makes the marriage contract far more serious than society looks upon it today.
“But you don’t know how difficult my marriage situation is,” you reply. Let’s look at another example in the Word of God which is given for our admonition.
It is the story of Jephthah, one of the judges of Israel. When he went out to war against the Ammonites he made a vow to the Lord that if God gave him the victory he would sacrifice to the Lord the first thing to come out of his house on his return. Tragically, the first one to come out of his home was his beloved daughter, his only child. Jephthah was devastated. “When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. “My daughter!” he cried out. ‘My heart is breaking! What a tragedy that you came out to greet me. For I have made a vow to the Lord and cannot take it back.’” (Judges 11:34-35 NLT)
Oh what a distraught father! But he had made a vow and could not take it back. He could not annul it. The Israelites understood the solemnity of vows and covenants. In this situation, he did not sacrifice his daughter’s life as that was against God’s laws, but instead he sacrificed her to be a virgin all her life (which was as bad as death for an Israelite daughter).
It cost Jephthah unbelievable heartache to keep his vow. Psalm 15:1,4 also speaks about this issue. “Lord, who may abide in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill? He who walks uprightly… who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” In other words, once he has made a covenant, an oath or a vow, he will not retract, even though it will be to his own hurt. One translation says, “no matter how much it costs!”
Covenants are made to keep – through the good times and the hard and tough times. That’s why we make the covenant – we covenant to stick to our vows through thick and thin! That’s what marriage is all about it. It is covenant made before God to “have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse; for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love, to cherish, and to obey, till death us depart, according to God’s holy ordinance, and thereto I pledge thee my troth.” (Original wedding vows)
Are you finding it hard to keep to your marriage vows? Let me encourage you with an inspiration that a woman of God once wrote in Above Rubies… “The tide always comes in again.” There are many times that the tide goes out in a marriage. You no longer feel loved. You don’t have any of your own love left yourself. You feel abused and rejected. You feel unappreciated. When the tide goes out you see all the ugly things that have been swept up on the beach and so you see all the ugly and detestable things in your husband. But just wait a minute. The tide always comes in again! It must happen. It is an eternal law. And when it does the waves of God’s love, forgiveness and grace will cover all the ugly things and you will be glad that you waited, hung on and were faithful to your vows.
I believe we need to be reminded of these Scriptures too:
Deuteronomy 23:21, “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.”
Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed. It is better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”
Love from Nancy Campbell
“Oh God, help me to see the solemnity of my marriage vows. Help me to keep the covenant I have made with you and with my husband. Help me to be faithful and true, even when the going is tough. Thank you for you grace and your strength, oh Lord. Amen.”
I will keep covenant even through the dark and difficult times.
P.S. For those who would like to do further study, here are more Scriptures about keeping to our vows:
Job 22:27b; Psalm 22:25b; 50:14; 66:13-14; 116:14.
Examples of others who kept their vows even when it was not easy:
Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:11,24-28
Darius in Daniel 6:6-24
Herod in Matthew 14:6-11
Here are some promises:
Exodus 19:5, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people: for all the earth is mine.”
Psalm 103: 17-18, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, ad his righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.”