Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, “This is what the LORD has commanded. If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
“If a woman vows a vow to the LORD and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father's house in her youth, and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the LORD will forgive her, because her father opposed her.
“If she marries a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he opposes her, then he makes void her vow that was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she bound herself. And the LORD will forgive her. (But any vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, anything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her.) And if she vowed in her husband's house or bound herself by a pledge with an oath, and her husband heard of it and said nothing to her and did not oppose her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning her pledge of herself shall not stand. Her husband has made them void, and the LORD will forgive her. Any vow and any binding oath to afflict herself, her husband may establish, or her husband may make void. But if her husband says nothing to her from day to day, then he establishes all her vows or all her pledges that are upon her. He has established them, because he said nothing to her on the day that he heard of them. But if he makes them null and void after he has heard of them, then he shall bear her iniquity.”
These are the statutes that the LORD commanded Moses about a man and his wife and about a father and his daughter while she is in her youth within her father's house.
(Numbers 30 ESV)
A Maskil of Asaph.
O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;
the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!
Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
they set up their own signs for signs.
They were like those who swing axes
in a forest of trees.
And all its carved wood
they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
They set your sanctuary on fire;
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.
They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;
they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.
We do not see our signs;
there is no longer any prophet,
and there is none among us who knows how long.
How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!
Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
You divided the sea by your might;
you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
You split open springs and brooks;
you dried up ever-flowing streams.
Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.
Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.
Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever.
Have regard for the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name.
Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!
(Psalm 74 ESV)
Something to Consider
Numbers 30: As God always remains faithful to His Word, so too should we remain faithful to our word as His people. Here in this passage concerning various vows made to God, we see the seriousness of keeping these vows, and we observe another biblical principle that is certainly worth noting. That principle is the clear way in which men are intended to be the discerning spiritual leaders over their home and their household.
We notice immediately from the text that men must always fulfill any vow that they may make to God. No exceptions. No excuses. However, women are treated a little differently in regards to their obligations before God. Woman are only obligated to fulfill a vow that they make if neither their husband (if married) or their father (if unmarried) nullifies their vow. It is the responsibility of the man as the head of his household to discern the appropriateness of his families' manner of worship. Faithful men are to be the spiritual head of the home, and faithful women are called to honor this sort of headship. Later in the New Testament, the apostle Paul would write:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the Head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5)
The wife is to submit to the spiritual leadership of her husband (if married) or father (if unmarried). However, we should make sure to observe that it is assumed here in Numbers as well as Ephesians that the man over the household is someone worthy of this leadership responsibility. The apostle Paul continues:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. (Ephesians 5)
This is the biblical model for the spiritual life within individual households. Faithful men are to be the discerning spiritual leaders of the home, and faithful women are called to follow his lead. May men step up to this responsibility given to them by our Lord and fulfill their leadership duties by serving their families the way Christ has served us.