When you vow a vow to God, defer not to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you have vowed.…
One of the greatest inconveniences to which men are exposed in the various transactions of life, one of the greatest hindrances in their performance of duty, is forgetfulness: and this may be owing, partly to a defective constitution of mind, more frequently to habits of inattention and wilful neglect. A benefactor confers upon us a distinguished favour: we feel deeply sensible of the obligation, and sure that it must always be remembered; we venture to pledge ourselves that such will be the case; our own interest is greatly concerned that it should be so; the continued good-will and kindness of our friend depend upon it: and yet, when the benefit is past, and not seldom even while it is enjoyed, we are led to bestow scarcely a thought upon the hand from which our bounty has been supplied. None of us will deny our obligations to God for the blessings of His providence and the riches of His grace; and probably there are few of us, who have not been at some time or other so powerfully affected by a consideration of the Lord's dealings with us, as to have entered into some resolutions before Him, and made some promises of honouring and serving Him. But how soon have these hopeful convictions lost their power; how soon has the enemy, who was watching all the while with jealousy over them, "caught away that which was sown in their heart," and scattered it to the winds. The gains and pleasures, the corrupt indulgences, the fashionable follies of the world, have rushed in like a flood, and swept from them the very recollection of their promised change. If we could have kept a register of our thoughts and purposes, no doubt we should find, upon consulting it, that we had repeatedly, in the course of our lives, made our resolutions, and avowed our purposes in the sight of Heaven, to walk more humbly and faithfully with our God, and to live for eternity. And though we have long ago dismissed these matters from our minds, and no longer trouble ourselves either with the promised obligations, or our forgetfulness of them, yet are they standing before God in living characters, which no time can efface or alter. The sentiments, and affections, and conduct, which we saw necessary for us years ago, continue to be equally necessary, though they are no longer felt; our feelings may be changed and gone, but there is no change in duty: whatever it was wise and good for us to promise, that we are now as much bound to perform, as we were when the promise was originally made; and God will demand it at our hands. There is one momentous occasion of our lives to which most of us may carry back our thoughts with peculiar advantage; one occasion on which we certainly did, in the most open, and solemn, and unqualified manner, pledge ourselves to God in the presence of His Church and people; and that was when we took upon ourselves the vows and promises, which were made for us at our baptism, when we were confirmed. This is a transaction and a service upon which we ought to dwell with great solemnity and frequency. It is incumbent on me to say a word to those who are about to take upon themselves the promises and vows made at their baptism. Let the matter be well weighed: let it be soberly considered that they are going to give a promise and a pledge to the God of truth; to declare that they are fully sensible of the engagement which has been made for them, and are willing to take it wholly upon themselves; to declare that, for the remainder of their days, they wilt walk worthily, by the help of the Lord. of that new and holy state into which they were baptized. Now, that this is a most serious, important, and awful engagement, no one, who is come to years of discretion, can fail to perceive. Let all them be assured, that if this solemn vow be earnestly made and faithfully kept, God will be their friend, and "He will save them": if this solemn vow be trifled with and broken, God will punish such mockery, and will become their enemy, and they may perish everlastingly. Certainly we may say, in this case, if in any, "Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."
(J. Slade, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.