Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth.Deuteronomy 23:23
This chapter in Deuteronomy, which forms part of Moses’ instruction to Israel as they prepare to enter the Promised Land, contains many particular details that are hard for us to apply to our very different circumstances.
THE NATION of ISRAEL was to operate as a THEOcracy (ie living under God’s dictated rules for all of life), whereas WE, whether we like it or not, are part of a structured DEMOcracy in which it is the PEOPLE, through their elected government, who make the rules that we are required to obey. We can, and should, pray that God will give us representatives in government who will be committed to God’s revealed truth in his Word, but they are, nevertheless, and in spite of their own personal convictions, required to operate according to DEMOcratic processes (which, of course, makes it very difficult for Christian politicians – so let us be committed to upholding them in prayer constantly!)
Notwithstanding all this, there is a very important principle BEHIND the rules laid down in this chapter: God is HOLY, and everything we do as HIS people, must reflect HIS HOLINESS. A significant attribute of God that he has revealed to us in his Word, and demonstrated to us in the outworking of his Providence, is his faithfulness to his WORD. God not only acts in human history, he declares beforehand what he will do (cf Isaiah 48:5); he not only makes promises, he KEEPS them (cf 2 Corinthians 1:20).
A significant characteristic of our present age is a failure to honour our commitments: in marriage; in business; with appointments, etc … This situation, therefore, provides us with an excellent opportunity to distinguish ourselves as God’s people by BEING TRUE TO OUR WORD. The psalmist also emphasises how important this is: “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? … [He] who KEEPS his oath EVEN WHEN IT HURTS, …” (Psalm 15:1, 4b). Let’s all be reliable people whose word can always be trusted!