Selfishness in Religion
Proverbs 20:25
It is a snare to the man who devours that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.

There were under the Levitical dispensation certain things prescribed by the law as consecrated to God; such as tithes, first-fruits, firstlings of the herds and the flock. There were also things that were voluntarily consecrated as free-will offerings to Jehovah. It is to these, perhaps, that Solomon here specially refers. The expression, "to devour that which is holy," characterises the conduct of those who appropriate that to their own use which had been either by themselves or others consecrated to the service of God. The subject leads us to consider selfishness in religion. Selfishness everywhere is bad, but when selfishness intrudes into the temple of religion, it is peculiarly hideous. It is then the serpent amongst seraphs.

I. THE APPROPRIATING OF THE CONSECRATED TO PERSONAL USE. The text speaks of the man who "devoureth that which is holy." This was the sin of Achan: he robbed the treasury of the Lord (Joshua 6:19; Joshua 7:1). "Will a man rob God?" (Malachi 3:8, 9). This is done now in England.

1. In the personal appropriations of ecclesiastical endowments.

2. In the assumption of sacred offices for personal ends.

3. In the adoption of the Christian profession from motives of personal interest.

II. THE ENDEAVOURING TO AVOID THE FULFILMENT OF RELIGIOUS VOWS. "And after vows to make inquiry." There are three ideas that must not be attached to this expression.

1. The idea that it is wrong to make religious vows is not here.

2. The idea that it is wrong to break improper vows is not here.

3. The idea that it is wrong to think upon the vow after it is made is not here.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

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

WEB: It is a snare to a man to make a rash dedication, then later to consider his vows.

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