Be a Man of Your Word: The Seriousness of Promises, Covenants and Oaths - Faithful Generations

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Be a Man of Your Word: The Seriousness of Promises, Covenants and Oaths

The Seriousness of Promises, Covenants and Oaths


Joshua 9:1-27,

2 Samuel 21:1-14.


Other examples:

Judges 11:30-40 (Jephthah)

Gen 21:23-24 (Abraham to Abimelech).

Gen 24:3-8, 37 (Abraham to his eldest servant about taking a wife for Isaac).

Gen 25:33, Heb 12:16 (Esau to Jacob).

Gen 2:24, Matthew 19:7-9, 1 Cor 7:10-11, Mal 2:14-16, Romans 7:2-3: marriage  (esp Mal 2:14 covenant)


Other verses of interest:

Heb 6:13-20 (the reliability of God's oath, a reflection of His immutable character).

James 5:12 (warning lest ye fall into condemnation).

Matthew 18:18-20 (what we bind or loose on earth - our word).


What can we learn?

1. Discernment prior to making a covenant: Joshua and the princes were deceived) yet they made a league which they were then held to. Even though the Gibeonites were not the people of God, yet God honoured the league made by Joshua and punished the Children of Israel in David's time for the sin of Saul, at least two generations after the league was made. The famine was only lifted when the Israelites made the requested restitution, however sometimes there is no appropriate restitution which can be made to remedy the damage. While Saul’s actions to the uninitiated may have seemed commendable, i.e. destroying those who were currently occupying the promised land, his actions were deplorable because of the league made by God's people with them. This is a warning to be careful before covenanting in marriage. If one is deceived into thinking that a potential spouse has a character which they do not have, or if blind to something which later will become an issue, there is no opting out of the covenant except death (Romans 7:2-3).


2. Covenanting, promising, making oaths etc reflects the immutability of God's counsel and thus is very serious when broken since if such promises are made by God's people, it reflects on God himself (see Heb 6:16-17).


3. Such binding of ourselves must be made carefully as demonstrated because the life of the oath may extend beyond our life time if not carefully agreed upon, David suffered because of Saul yet the promise was made by Joshua.


4. James warns us about oaths. This verse must be taken as a warning rather than a prohibition on oaths because marriage is a covenant sanctioned by God (James 5:12).


Does God still chastise for broken oaths today? Even in 1 Cor 11 members of the local church suffered when not rightly discerning the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have no indication that God deals with oaths any different today than He always did and since His character is immutable and we have the warning of condemnation in James 5:12, we can assume that He still takes them as seriously today as He ever did, after all, as already noted, they reflect on His very own character. Let us as David did and inquire of the Lord if we notice any seemingly unexplained prolonged trial in our lives.


Be a Man of Your Word

Joseph Stephen

8 August 2011


Be a man of your word!

Mean what you say.

Think twice before speaking,

Before committing your way.

Be a man of your word!

It's too common today,

to go back on our promise,

to forget what we say.


When Isaac blessed Jacob,

Though Jacob deceived him,

His blessing was binding,

It could not be retracted.

Though Esau repented,

The blessing was given,

Though Esau wept bitter,

It was bound in heaven.


Then Jephthah the warrior

Vowed that he’d offer

The first one to meet him,

If God helped him win.

His dear only daughter

Came dancing with timbrels.

He still kept his promise,

Though it crushed him within.


Words flow like water,

It happens too often,

We promise our help,

We promise to pray.

We’d do well to remember,

Each idle word uttered,

We must give an account of

at the great judgment day.