It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.
– Proverbs 20:25
The wording is dark but two words bring light in this proverb. The word for holy means set apart, or consecrated. The word for vow means promise. So the proverb speaks to consecrating things to the Lord by a vow. The word for devoureth can mean to swallow but also in a more figurative way, to open the mouth as in speaking. The word for enquiry means to search out, or consider. The proverb then teaches a man is ensnared who rashly speaks a vow without considering the implications and obligations until afterward. Vows were voluntary by the law, but they were commitments that must be kept (Leviticus 27:1-34). It may be easy for a man to vow and later forget, but God doesn’t forget (Deuteronomy 23:21-23). The law did provide for redemption from vows, but it was costly. Vowing and not keeping the vow was a serious offense against God, and so Solomon warns about making vows rashly here as well as in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7.