Proverbs 20:25

The Danger of Acting Before Thinking


The man who devoureth that which is holy…

1. Devoureth:

a. Strong’s: (two meanings listed)
• Talk impetuously; make a wild utterance; i.e., speak in a rash or foolish manner; implying no thought to the words spoken.
• Sip; take a relatively small drink of liquid; slurp; i.e., drink liquid noisily.

b. Theological Workbook of the Old Testament:
• Swallow down.
• Talk wildly.

c. Most Hebrew dictionaries define this term as Strong’s does: either to speak in a rash manner or to sip or slurp.
• In fact, it is possible that the two thoughts are related… and are a Hebraism – a picturesque way of saying something…
• Namely, that speaking out rashly is like slurping a drink—it happens in a hurry… without even thinking… you make a lot of sound… and then it’s gone.
• It is possible that in the Hebrew mind they made a mental connection between gulping down a drink and speaking rashly… or blurting out something without thinking.

2. Thus, the man who DEVOURS (sips up) that which is holy does so by making a rash vow.

a. A man may speak rashly and dedicate something to the Lord as being “holy” – set apart for God.

b. A man may “vow” to give something to the Lord… to dedicate something to the Lord’s Temple or service.

c. Once this vow is made… once this item is dedicated to God, it is “holy” and cannot be taken back.

d. Once dedicated to God, it was considered “holy” and it could not be used again for ordinary purposes.

e. This is the same concept that Jesus spoke of in Mark 7:10-11.
• Corban = It is dedicated to God. Men would make a vow to God to dedicate their gold to the Temple… or their fruits as a sacrifice…
• Some selfish, ungrateful children used this as an excuse NOT to care for their aging parents.
• They said, “Dad, I’d love to help you out, but all my goods are “corban” – dedicated to God. Therefore, I can’t help you.
• It was pure hypocrisy.

3. It was easy to SAY, “corban”… however, there were some long term consequences of making that vow.

a. The idea of devouring a holy thing means to dedicate it to God by making a vow.

b. Once the vow is made, that item is “devoured” in the sense, that it is as good as gone.

c. It is devoured by making a rash vow…

d. In other words, a rash vow DEVOURS items… and renders them “holy” or dedicated to God.

e. Vows can be made quite easily. Vows can be made in one moment of time. Vows can be made in a flurry of emotion. They can be made in anger… they can be made in joy… Vows are often made without thinking.

4. This seems to be what Solomon meant by “devouring” that which is holy or dedicated.

a. A rash vow was made and the item is gone… or as good as gone.

b. It now belongs to the Lord.

c. And there is no reversing it, once dedicated.

d. Some understand the “devour” to mean that the man made the vow rashly, discovered he could not keep the vow, and thus consumed the sacrifice that he had dedicated to God.

e. Each of the various interpretations for this phrase are really quite similar… and the overall meaning is the same.

And after vows to make enquiry

1. Now Solomon describes the fact that the man who just made the rash vow to dedicate something to the Lord decides to THINK about what he just did.

2. Note that this is done AFTER.

3. After he devours that which is holy (dedicates something to God) he then vows to make enquiry.

a. Make enquiry: To seek; enquire; consider; reflect; give thought.

b. Solomon’s point here is that AFTER the man devours that which is holy by making a rash vow to dedicate it to God… only then does he begin to THINK about what he did…

c. This is another example of the proverbial, act now, think later.

d. The man makes a vow, and then sometime later, he begins to reflect upon the consequences of that vow.

e. He speaks without thinking… and later it begins to dawn on him what he did… as he has time to stop and consider his actions.

4. And haven’t we all done this — perhaps way too many times!

a. Of course, the concept of “corban” is not something practiced often today.

b. But something similar COULD be done…
• Suppose a missionary comes, gives a thrilling message… sings some wonderful hymns… shows slides of the children in the jungle that really grips your heart…
• Then, overwhelmed by the emotion of it all, you pledge to give that missionary $200.00 per month… only to discover a couple of months later that you can’t afford it!
• Or perhaps, after hearing his thrilling presentation of his mission, you promise God that YOU will go to the mission field… but you do so without thinking… without praying… without being led… it is pure emotion…

c. It is EASY to speak rashly and make promises to God…
• But it is not wise to make promises to God on the basis of emotion and to think and pray about it AFTER.
• That’s backwards.

d. There is a much BROADER principle that Solomon hints at here.
• Solomon spoke about making a rash vow to dedicate something to God without thinking about it.
• This could be applied to ANY kind of action we take… any kind of obligation we take on… any kind of commitment we make… any kind of debt we incur…
• It’s easy to obligate ourselves to something… (in the emotion of the hour). It is foolish to do so without thinking it through…
• People do this all the time in the financial realm. They buy too much house… too much car… time share property… because of the slick way it was presented by the salesman… and often we do so without making enquiry… without doing our homework.
• Some believers do this in the local church too. They sign up to serve in ministries eight nights a week… and only AFTER… upon reflection do they discover that their family is suffering…
• Parents do this with their kids. They overextend themselves by signing up for soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, piano lessons, singing lessons, extra science class, bird watching, and basket weaving… and only AFTER do they discover that they don’t have the time or energy for it all.

It is a snare

1. Snare: A trap; the lure or bait placed in a hunter’s trap.

2. Solomon now speaks about the CONSEQUENCE of a rash vow… of making an obligation without thinking it through… without prayer.

3. It is like a trap with some enticing bait inside… that lures you in… and then the door closes behind you… and you are trapped.

4. The lure is obvious:

a. The lure of having a big, beautiful house lures us into signing on to a mortgage that we cannot afford.

b. The lure of being seen in a fancy new car lures us into signing on the dotted line at the car dealer’s… only to discover later, that you can’t afford that car.

c. The lure of having your kids well rounded… and talented… you want your kids to have an edge… and that lures parents into signing them up for soccer camp… piano lessons… and on and on it goes until there is no time or energy left for anything!

5. This is a snare that has been the downfall of many men, women, and young people. It has ruined families… marriages… relationships…

6. It is so much better to think BEFORE you act… to consider BEFORE you sign on the dotted line… to think about the long term consequences BEFORE you obligate yourself to anything!

7. Both the Old and New Testaments forbid us from breaking a vow. That’s why it is wise to think BEFORE you make a vow… or not make one at all!

a. Ecc. 5:4-7 – Making rash promises is a snare because once the promise is made, God expects you to keep it. It is better NOT to promise.

b. Matt. 5:33 – Jesus said the same thing. “Thou shalt not forswear thyself.” (break an oath)

c. Vows were common, but God expected those who made them to keep them.

d. In the Old Testament, men made vows to God to become a Nazarite…

e. Hannah made a vow to God that if He gave her a son, she would return her son to the Lord.

8. Judges 11:30-31 – There is a perfect example of a rash vow made in a moment of enthusiasm by Jephthah that he later regretted.

a. This was an especially foolish vow because Jephthah did not know what or who would walk through the door of his tent.

b. He was making a promise to offer up an unknown.

c. He made a vow without knowing the PRICE.

d. Vs. 34-40 – It is not certain exactly WHAT Jephthah did to his daughter. It appears that instead of slaying her (as Abraham was about to do Isaac) that instead she remained a virgin and unmarried…

e. This must have been very painful to Jephthah… his ONLY daughter… yet, he was required to keep the vow before the Lord.

f. This is a good illustration of what Solomon warned about: rashly making a vow… and not thinking about the consequences of it until later.

g. It is VERY foolish thing to do.

h. There are countless ways we can apply this proverb to our lives: “look before you leap”… “think before you speak”… “think first, act later.”

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