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God’s Word for You

Numbers 30:6-9 vows

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, January 14, 2022

6 If she marries a husband while she is obligated by a vow or something she spoke rashly, 7 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her on the same day that he hears about it, then her vows will stand, and her obligations which she has undertaken will be binding. 8 But if her husband forbids her on the same day that he hears about it, he will nullify her vow which obligates her and her responsibility for the things she spoke rashly. The LORD will forgive her.

This second case of a vow is of a young woman who makes a vow that her husband doesn’t know about when they marry. When he learns of it, as head of the household, he can dissolve her vow or allow it, as he sees fit. The only catch to this is that he must decide the day he learns of it. Otherwise, the vow must stand and she must fulfill it.

This would seem to be especially concerning in four cases, but there might be others that are beyond my imagination:

1, A Nazirite vow, if the duration of the vow would interfere with her new role as wife and mother (Numbers 6:2-5).

2, A vow of abstinence (i.e., from sex), which would negate her role as wife and mother (1 Timothy 4:3).

3, Any vow made to a false god (Jeremiah 7:18, etc.).

4, Any promise or vow made to another man. If she, in a foolish whim, had been betrothed to two men, the one who married her (first) was her husband and could now dissolve any other betrothal she had previously made. This instance seems unlikely, but could arise if the other man were a soldier who was captured (and presumed dead) or a traveler who had not returned from a long journey (consider, for example, the implications of Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah building “ships of Tarshish” at Ezion Geber, which may have required circumnavigating the African continent, 2 Chronicles 20:35-36).

9 But the vow of a widow or a divorced woman, every obligation which she put herself under, will be binding on her.

In this third case, a woman whose marriage has ended through death or divorce is able to make any vow, and her vows are binding. Neither her father nor her ex-husband has a say, although it would not be unwise to consult her father. Some fathers, of course, become crotchety and unswerving in their moods, and might refuse to give advice. This is not an act of love or good parenting; the devil has many weapons, including grudges and misunderstandings.

Divorce (for unfaithfulness or abuse) is permitted but not commanded. In Deuteronomy 24:1, a man who discovers sexual immorality in his wife may divorce her, but in 24:4 he is reminded that later on, if she marries someone else (and divorces him) he may not remarry the same woman. But Jesus points out in Matthew 19:8 that “it was not that way in the beginning.”

A spouse is meant to be a companion, someone to go through the same ups and downs in life, to raise children with, to praise God with, to honor physical needs with. In short, God’s design is that for each of us, our spouse would be there to help us through every part of our lives. Solomon’s blessing to Rehoboam was, “May you rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe, a graceful deer… may you ever be captivated by her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19). A heroic wife (‘a wife of noble character) “is her husband’s crown” (Proverbs 12:4). Leah’s constant prayer was that her husband would love her (Genesis 29:31,43, 30:20), and a husband needs to remember to show his wife that he loves her. He should stand up for her with a passion that “burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame” (Song of Solomon 8:6), he should defend her and speak up for her (Exodus 21:22), and he should care for her, even for her reputation and even if they are going through a rough patch (Matthew 1:19), and even if she is not quite so delicate, gentle, refined, or sensitive “that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot” (Deuteronomy 28:56). “Like the sun rising in the heights of the Lord, so is the beauty of a good wife in her well-ordered home” (Sirach 26:16). A good wife is praised “because nothing shameful is found in her.”  The vow of a marriage is a vow to delight in one’s whole life through. It’s a vow worth repeating every day, morning by morning, sunrise after sunrise.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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