“The Righteous Man Swears to His Own Hurt, and Does Not Change”


Seven years ago these words from Psalm 15 came home to me in a way that I will likely never forget. My oldest son was faced with a very important decision in his life: should he enter the US Marines? He asked me to pray about his decision, knowing that he had recently become a Christian, and thus was questioning his early enlistment which he did some seven months earlier. I asked him one simple question: Did you raise your right hand and take an oath to defend this country? He said yes.


That night I prayed for my son and his decision, and the Lord brought to my memory the words from Psalm 15, “The righteous man swears to his own hurt, and does not change.” I then went and read over the passage and prayed for my son’s decision. In the middle of the night I woke up with these words from Psalm 15 repeating themselves louder and louder. I was beginning to sense that this contained the Lord’s answer to my son’s dilemma.


Come Ye Apart - J.R. Miller

Come Ye Apart - J.R. Miller

The next morning I rose and turned to the July 11th reading from the book “Come Ye Apart” by J.R. Miller, a book I was considering making into a Solid Ground reprint. The reading for that morning was taken from Matthew 14:9 and entitled A Royal Coward. The text expounded that morning was, “For the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.” That which was to be given to Herodias’ daughter was the head of John the Baptist. The devotional for the morning began:

“Herod called himself a king, and yet see what a poor slave he was, what a craven coward! He was sorry he had made the oath, exceedingly sorry. His conscience was not altogether dead. He did not want to kill John…He hated himself for having been caught by Herodias in her plot, to have her long-cherished revenge. Yet, he was so much a slave that, although he claimed to be a king, he had not the courage to refuse such a request.”


As I read this devotional my thought immediately turned to my son, his dilemma, and Psalm 15. It was then that I read the last paragraph of Miller’s devotion:

“There are some things we have no right to swear away. Things that are our own we are always to do with as we have sworn. According to the Scriptures, a good man, having sworn to his own hurt, changes not.” 


I sat there stunned. A third time this passage had come to me as my son prayed for wisdom. That morning he called me and asked for my advice. I simply said to him: “Son, I want you to get to a quiet place and open your Bible to Psalm 15. Before you read that entire Psalm, pause and ask the Lord to open your eyes to see what He would have you do.” Less than an hour later he called me back and told me that he was going to follow through and enter the Marines. After he made his decision I told him about the way the Lord brought that text to me, and read him Miller’s devotional. Next time I will tell you the rest of that story.   


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