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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 23:22

 

 

"However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you.

The Biblical Illustrator

Deuteronomy 23:22

If thou shalt forbear to vow.

Extraordinary and particular vows considered as not necessary under the Mosaic or expedient under the Christian institution

I. The nature of vows under the Jewish dispensation: which, as they are particularly voluntary engagements, we ought to observe when made, though we cannot infer a necessity of making them from the Divine law or the nature of things. It would seem but an ill consequence should we thus argue: God has commanded us in general to honour Him with our substance, and therefore we ought to make ourselves liable to His judgments, if in such a particular case, at such a particular time, and to such a particular degree we do it not. This I say would be but an ill consequence, though there may be some fit reasons assigned why such particular vows were used by good and pious men under the circumcision (Genesis 28:20; 11:20; 11:31; 2 Samuel 15:7-8). Hence we observe that things consecrated or desecrated, though they are in a vulgar sense styled devoted, are not always reducible under the general nature of a vow, in the proper and scriptural sense of the word, and there seems to be a greater difference than is commonly apprehended between them. Thus much may suffice to determine the notion of vows as they are distinguished from other sacrifices under the Jewish dispensation; but it will still be more clear from some further reflections upon the lawful matter of them. For this we need only in general observe that everything which was not appropriated to God, which was not profaned, or which was not properly under the right or arbitrament of another, was the subject matter of them. From whence it follows that tenths in the first place were, under the Mosaic law, excluded from it, and that these could not be vowed to the Almighty, or be accepted by Him as a freely promised offering, because they were properly His before both by prescription and command. Again, nothing which was profaned or unclean, unless as it was redeemable, could be the matter of a vow. The heathens, for the generality, had more exalted notions than to think their gods would be gratified with such sacrifices as were held in contempt by themselves, and were in their kind of least estimation with them. Lastly, whatsoever was under the right and power of another was excluded from the matter of a vow, and therefore those who were subject to the authority of fathers or husbands were by the law not obliged to the performance of vows made without their consent during their right and power over them.

II. Under the Gospel the Christian’s vows are comprehended under the sacramental, and therefore particular vows are neither necessary nor expedient. It may be proper to give a fit instance or two of particular vows in order to settle what are so. We are, in general, by our baptismal covenant, obliged to renounce all the sinful lusts of the flesh, and in consequence of this are obliged to make use of the means prescribed, suppose mortification by fasting. But should we by a solemn promise to God Almighty oblige ourselves to abstain such a number of days or hours, this circumstance nowhere enjoined would make it a particular vow. Again, we are obliged by our general vow to acts of charity and piety; but should we make a voluntary promise to God to bestow at such a future time such a certain sum to such an assigned use in view of such a desired blessing, this would also be a particular vow. And these are the vows which I undertake to prove neither necessary nor expedient. If they had been necessary, we might reasonably suppose that as our Saviour appointed that grand one for the initiation of His followers, He would also have prescribed the other, either by precept or practice, for the perfection of them, that so the use of them might have been derived by authority to the Christian Church, as it was to the Jews from the patriarchs. But we have no instance of this kind, either from our Saviour, His apostles, or followers, in the New Testament. And if we take them, under the general notion, as acts of gratitude, by which the good Christian promises to God the acknowledgment of a blessing by a suitable offering and oblation, though it is lawful and not absurd, as Calvin expresses it, to enter into such engagements, yet what advantage this method of acknowledgment has above others is not easily discerned. Should the pious Christian be made a peculiar favourite of heaven, and blessed with extraordinary advantages, either in prospect or possession, he may by his free gifts and offerings give a more noble and generous instance of his pious resentment, which under the law were always deemed the most acceptable sacrifices, and must recommend to the favour of the Almighty, who loveth a cheerful giver, whereas he, who lays a constraint upon himself, may give afterwards with an unwilling mind, and though he pays the vow, may not answer the end of it. And it is for these reasons, I presume, that the Jewish doctors discouraged and deterred their scholars from such kind of vows. But were they ever so expedient, the ill use which has been made of the doctrine of particular vows by the Church of Rome would be enough to give us a prejudice against them. (T. Silvester, M. A.)


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Deuteronomy 23:22". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/deuteronomy-23.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But if thou shalt forbear to vow,.... That a man might do, though there was ability; it was expected indeed that men should vow and bring freewill offerings in proportion to their ability; whether they were of the greater sort, of the herd and flock, or of fowls, or even of fine flour, these were acceptable to the Lord: but if they were not vowed and brought:

it shall be no sin in thee; no charge of guilt be brought or punishment laid; it should not be reckoned a crime, nor be punishable in any respect, and especially where there was a willing mind and no ability; otherwise negligence, niggardliness, and ingratitude, are not well pleasing in the sight of God.


Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:22". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-23.html. 1999.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

22.But if thou shalt forbear to vow. He confirms what he said, that they would be guilty before God who have broken their promises to Him, because no necessity compelled them to promise, and consequently that their guilt was doubled, inasmuch as they chose rather to sin when it was at their option not to vow. Thus Peter, reproving the faithlessness of Ananias and Sapphira, says, (314)

"Who hath compelled you to lie to the Holy Ghost? was not the field your own, which you might have retained? but now to defraud God of part of the price, is impious hypocrisy.”
(
Acts 5:4.)

Meanwhile God indirectly inculcates sobriety in vowing, when He discharges them from it as a duty; as if He had reminded them, that there was no reason why they should incur guilt by idly promising what He does not require. And surely nothing is wiser than to be very sparing of vows; since those who run into them inconsiderately, either presently repent of them, or else pay them in a servile manner, as if it were a task to which they are driven by force, and not without annoyance and disgust, and thus destroy the grace of the act. As to the words, “that which is gone out of thy lips,” they do not refer to the ceremony, on which the Jew’s as usual too unscrupulously insist; but He puts a restraint by them on vowing, to which we are of ourselves but too much inclined. Whence it is said in Psalms 66:13,

"I will go into thy house with burnt-offerings; I will pay these my vows, which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble;"

although the Prophet intimates that in his sore straits he had always retained his composure and presence of mind, so as expressly to implore God’s help, and to manifest his constancy and confidence by making vows, still it is signified at the same time that he did not precipitately utter empty words, but spoke with serious reflection. And indeed since the tongue of many is too voluble, and goes before their heart, the main obligation of vows is not to be sought in the act of their utterance; but, to make them truly complete, a mutual agreement is required between the heart and tongue. The same expression will often occur again; and its repetition shews that it is meant to remove the scruples of the weak, lest (315) as soon as any desire to vow shall have entered their minds, they should fancy that it imposes a religious obligation. We know that among heathen nations, in the solemn dedication of their temples, a priest was appointed who should (316) first recite the words; by which ceremony they were reminded that nothing is duly offered to God except He Himself should dictate it, as it were. I allow that this reason was but little considered by them; nevertheless, by their example, God would condemn all levity, or inconsiderate fervor in sacred offerings.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:22". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/deuteronomy-23.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 23:22 But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.

Ver. 22. It shall be no sin in thee,] i.e., No such great sin; as John 9:41, so John 15:22; John 15:24, James 4:17. See Ecclesiastes 5:5. Vovere nusquam est praeceptum, saith Bellarmine: We are nowhere in Scripture commanded to vow. And Fateor quod Deus non praecipit, sed tantum consulit nobis ut aliquid illi voveamus, saith another Popish writer. (a) I confess God nowhere commandeth, but only counselleth us to make vows. But what will they say to Psalms 76:11; - "Vow and perform to the Lord your God, bring presents" &c.? And are not the nine lepers condemned by Christ for their negligence and unthankfulness? [Luke 17:17-18]


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:22". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-23.html. 1865-1868.

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