Sometimes we make vows to God that are hard for us to keep and the Bible advised (I couldn't remember this portion: Hosea or Malachi - and Google didn't help too) that we should not be rash when making a vow for every vow must be kept

Ecclesiastes 5:4

When you vow a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you have vowed.

And there is another part that talked about it strongly (Hosea or Malachi) but I can't remember.

I made a vow many years ago (less than $5) and I could not fulfill it for a very long time. My finances went off balance until I realized I made a vow and after that peace came to me. Since then I have been cautious of making vows that I can't keep or I wouldn't make any at all.

My question is: Can God forgive someone if he asks for forgiveness after seeing he could not fulfill it or is it a must, you have to pay it?

  • 2
    I'm not sure how we can answer this without a doctrinal framework. Who's opinion do you want?
    – user3961
    Nov 26, 2014 at 1:00

2 Answers 2


Short answer: yes, He can forgive if we make a vow and fall short. I'd specify that this is from [insert denomination] perspective, but I think this is agreed upon by all mainstream denominations.

Longer answer, with support:

Yes. Even to those that believe you can "lose your salvation", you can repent and confess it. To those that don't believe you can lose your salvation, the "yes" is even more obvious. We believe that He has forgiven all our sins, past, present, and future.

The central message of Christianity is that the reason we need savior in the first place is that we fall short and cannot save ourselves. We can't possibly be "good enough".

Finally, 1 John teaches that we all sin. If we try to claim otherwise, we're liars, and that instead if trying to claim we have no sin, we should just confess it, and know that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

1 John (KJV)

5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

However, I'm with you on refusing to make vows to God. Scripture says it's better not to as well.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 (KJV)

4 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. 5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

And, in general, we are to keep our word, so of it is in our power to fulfill our vow, we should. There in nothing in Scripture that relieves us of our responsibility to pay what we owe, if it is within our ability to do so. I'd question whether "repentance" is genuine if the person in question failed to do whatever it takes to try to make it right.

  • Jephtah couldn't have withdrawn his vow and asked for forgiveness. Hannah also made a hard vow but she kept it faithfully and believe she was glad she did. When one is in Jephtah position, one would not go away with it? Jan 15, 2013 at 10:54
  • I clarified something I left out by adding to the last paragraph. Jan 16, 2013 at 0:55

Of course there is forgiveness if we sin, including in vows, although that does not mean we should sin willfully.

Additionally, I like to consider the following thought so far as it concerns my own "foolishness".

10“If a woman living with her husband makes a vow or obligates herself by a pledge under oath 11and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her and does not forbid her, then all her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. 12But if her husband nullifies them when he hears about them, then none of the vows or pledges that came from her lips will stand. Her husband has nullified them, and the Lord will release her. 13Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself.

Numbers 30:10-13

Basically, we are the Bride of Christ, and He is our head. I take that corporately and individually. As such, when I have rashly committed myself, I realize, He is my husband, and if and when He hears about it, He nulifies it, His rule is the binding authority over my life, not mine.

Of course, if you try to use this excuse to get out of a mortgage or a car payment that you indentured yourself in, good luck! I doubt this excuse would get you very far in a court of law.

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