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Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 66: Bound by a Vow

Today's Reading: Numbers 28-30

"If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth."
Numbers 30:2

Mother and Dad said, "Don't swear."

As a child I really didn't understand why, I just figured if Mother and Dad said not to swear, I shouldn't swear.

The passage today tells us why. Hidden in the Hebrew words is a spiritual reality missed by the English translation. It is found in the two words "bind himself."

"Bind" means to "tie up" in the sense of "capture," or literally "imprison." The word translated "himself" is "soul." When we make a vow or swear an oath, we are "imprisoning our souls" to that spoken word until it is accomplished.

Rash oaths are dangerous. Though said glibly, they invoke spiritual bondage upon us. Plain and simple.

Words are very important to God. God's words create our reality. God spoke and creation came into being. Being made in the image of God, our words create and shape the world around us.

We need to take care as we utter words that bind us, imprison us, tie us to our promise until it is fulfilled. It is a serious matter.

Our formal vows carry great strength. Vows made before God--baptismal vows, marriage vows, ordination vows--are binding.

When God makes covenant with us, God binds God's self to us also. To me this is comforting. Despite the Israelites' groanings and unfaithfulness, God is in a way "imprisoned" to them because of God's word, God's promise.

We must be careful in binding ourselves, giving ourselves over to various things. To what do you pledge allegiance? To whom have you sworn your loyalty?

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

St. Patrick's Breastplate

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