Proverbs 20:25 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 20:25, NIV: It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one's vows.

Proverbs 20:25, ESV: It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,” and to reflect only after making vows.

Proverbs 20:25, KJV: It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make inquiry.

Proverbs 20:25, NASB: It is a trap for a person to say carelessly, 'It is holy!' And after the vows to make inquiry.

Proverbs 20:25, NLT: Don't trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.

Proverbs 20:25, CSB: It is a trap for anyone to dedicate something rashly and later to reconsider his vows.

What does Proverbs 20:25 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Making any promise without thinking it through is foolish, but hasty vows to God are especially unwise (Deuteronomy 23:21). This proverb compares this error to stepping into a trap, such as those used to catch animals (Proverbs 7:21–23). Solomon gives similar advice in the book of Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 5:4–5).

Jephthah, a judge of Israel, "trapped" himself in an unwise vow (Judges 11:30–31). He failed to think through what he was promising and it cost him his only child (Judges 11:34–35). In the other extreme, a person might feel helpless in a difficult situation and pray something like, "God, if you will get me out of this situation, I will serve you for the rest of my life." However, when the danger is gone, they forget the promise.

Peter arrogantly promised to remain by Jesus' side even if all the other disciples were disloyal (John 13:36–38). He learned the hard way that he would not keep his promise. After Jesus was arrested, Peter succumbed to fear and denied knowing Jesus three times (Mark 14:26–31; Luke 22:54–61; John 18:15–18, 25–27).

Those who follow God should be known for integrity and honesty (Matthew 5:37). Making unwise promises is wrong. And yet, so is adding additional vows or oaths onto what we say. Instead of saying "I swear by…" or "I promise on…" the Christian should always keep their word, without any need for further guarantees (James 5:12).