Make Vows to the Lord…and Pay Them (Psalm 76:11)
The God of the Bible is a God of truth. When He makes a promise of any kind then He will keep it for “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). Just as God can be counted on to be truthful, He also expects the godly to keep their word. This includes keeping our “vows.” When most think of “vows” they may think of the commitments marriage partners make to one another at weddings. Yet, the Bible is full of instances of vows. In many cases, financial vows were made to the Lord in addition to offerings. Many passages in the Old Testament reference the legislation surrounding those financial commitments (see Leviticus 27:1-25; Deuteronomy 23:21-23; Ecclesiastes 5:4-6).
In Psalm 76, Asaph refers to the importance of Israel paying their vows. He writes, “Make vows to the Lord your God, and pay them; Let all who are around Him bring presents to Him who ought to be feared” (76:11). Commands without context can seem rather arbitrary. A father who orders a stranger’s child to obey him will likely get a strange look from the child and a harsh rebuke from the real parent. Yet, a father who has built trust with his own child could make the same orders from his children and receive instant obedience because of the close relationship. Likewise, the God who was a Father to Israel expected to be obeyed because of the relationship He had built with His people over time.
In the case of Israel, Asaph does not issue orders from an aloof and uncaring God. Contextually, this is the God whose “name is great in Israel” (76:1). This is the God who had helped Israel in battle (76:3). This is a God “glorious and excellent” (76:4). This is a God who can “rebuke” the enemies of Israel to lead the holy nation to victory. This God to whom “vows” are to be “paid” is a God of sure “judgment” who is to be “feared” (Psalm 76:7-9). In short, this God was the God who was the salvation of the people of Israel. With that in mind, why should the people of Israel pay their vows? Because, as 76:11 says, “Let all who are around Him bring presents to Him who ought to be feared.” They served a God who deserved reverence because of all He had done for His people.
How shameful to think some would forget to pay their vows to God who had not forgotten them! God had been so faithful to His people in their times of need. It was necessary for God’s people to be faithful to His causes in realization of the earthly needs that have always existed among God’s people whether His nation or His church. Are you committed financially to the God who has committed Himself to you? Do you neglect your commitments easily and show a lack of reverence to the God who has committed Himself to you and your salvation? Some will pay their taxes on time, their union dues, their bills, yet will skip and neglect to pay what should be committed to the Lord of all. “Make vows to the Lord…and pay them.”