If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
2 You are snared by the words of your mouth;
You are taken by the words of your mouth.
3 So do this, my son, and deliver yourself;
For you have come into the hand of your friend:
Go and humble yourself;
Plead with your friend.
4 Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids.
5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:1-5 (NIV) 1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
2 you have been trapped by what you said,
ensnared by the words of your mouth.
3 So do this, my son, to free yourself,
since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go—to the point of exhaustion—
and give your neighbor no rest!
4 Allow no sleep to your eyes,
no slumber to your eyelids.
5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the snare of the fowler.
Proverbs 6:1-5 (NLT) 1 My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt
or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger—
2 if you have trapped yourself by your agreement
and are caught by what you said—
3 follow my advice and save yourself,
for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy.
Now swallow your pride;
go and beg to have your name erased.
4 Don’t put it off; do it now!
Don’t rest until you do.
5 Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter,
like a bird fleeing from a net.
Proverbs 6:1-5 (CEV) 1 My child, suppose you agree
to pay the debt of someone,
who cannot repay a loan.
2 Then you are trapped
by your own words,
3 and you are now in the power
of someone else.
Here is what you should do:
Go and beg for permission
to call off the agreement.
4 Do this before you fall asleep
or even get sleepy.
5 Save yourself, just as a deer
or a bird tries to escape
from a hunter.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
you have put up security - עָרַ֣בְתָּ (arab, ‘ā·raḇ·tā) - Verb - Qal - Perfect - second person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 6148: To braid, intermix, technically, to traffic, give to be security
Brown-Driver-Briggs English Hebrew Lexicon adds: take on pledge, give in pledge, exchange; go surety for the debts of
for your neighbor - לְרֵעֶ֑ךָ (rea, lə·rê·‘e·ḵā) - preposition-l | Noun - masculine singular construct | second person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 7453: Friend, companion, fellow
Brown-Driver-Briggs English Hebrew Lexicon adds: fellow, fellow-citizen, even another person,, with whom one stands in reciprocal relations
if you have struck hands in pledge תָּקַ֖עְתָּ (taqa, tā·qa‘·tā) - Verb - Qal - Perfect - second person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 8628: To clatter, slap, clang, to drive, to become bondsman
"The lending of money on interest to any poor Israelite was strictly forbidden (Leviticus 25:35-37); the people were enjoined to be liberal, and lend for nothing in such cases. But at the time of Solomon, when the commerce of the Israelites had enormously developed, and communications were opened with Spain and Egypt and (possibly) with India and Ceylon, while caravans penetrated beyond the Euphrates, then the lending of money on interest for employment in trade most probably became frequent." Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
This advice is "directed against the inconsiderate and rash undertaking of such an obligation. There were some occasions on which becoming surety for another was demanded by the laws of charity and prudence, and when it was not inconsistent with the humane precepts of the Mosaic Law as enunciated in Leviticus 19:19. In other passages of our book the writer of the Proverbs lays down maxims which would clearly countenance the practice (Proverbs 14:21; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 18:24; Proverbs 27:10)..." - Pulpit Commentary
The "striking of the hand" indicates the completion of a contract much like our "handshake". “Surety” means becoming legally liable for the debts or default of another person. By becoming surety, you are legally obligating yourself to pay the debt if that other person proves himself unable or unwilling to do so. By agreeing to take on this responsibility, you have made yourself vulnerable to the other person. The advice here is to go to this person and ask to be removed as co-signer on their debt. You shouldn't rest until you make every effort to get out from under this commitment. Humble yourself and be willing to plead and beg.
This is advice, not a commandment. There are times when it's OK to be a co-signer. But you should be careful and not enter into anything lightly. Know the person well. And, certainly, don't do it if you don't have the means to do it. Don't endanger your needed income or assets by using them as collateral for someone else. I.e. you wouldn't want the bank to come after YOUR home or wages that you need to eat and pay bills with. If you have something you can lose without hardship, then you can afford to be more generous. Let's say that you have enough money in the bank and you are paying your bills just fine on your salary/wages. But a family member has a hard time and needs help. If you trust that family member (you know them well), then you might consider being a co-signer because if the family member defaults, you have the money to cover it without it costing you your house or food out of your family's mouth.
The point is to think about it carefully and use wisdom before striking any deal that could go sour and leave you paying it off. If you know the person to be irresponsible, immature, perpetually in financial problems because of poor decisions or work ethics... then you probably shouldn't be a co-signer on their debt. It doesn't mean you don't love them, it means you are using wisdom. Sometimes we tend to rush in and play Holy Spirit. We end up getting in the way of the Holy Spirit because we think we can do a better job.
For example, maybe your college age child is not mature enough to go away to college. They can't pay their way. They haven't applied for any financial assistance, they haven't kept good grades in order to get scholarships, they have never worked a job before and now they are graduating high school and looking to YOU to pay their way to college. They are an adult now but still expecting you to pay for college for them. If you haven't been saving for their college education, and you can't afford it either, then DO NOT co-sign for them on college loans. They either get it and pay for it themselves or they don't go to college. But many parents think their child HAS to go to college so they end up co-signing on college loans. The child can't, or won't, make the payments and now Mom and Dad have endangered everything they've worked for and have to pay college loans. What Mom and Dad did was jump in and play Holy Spirit in order to provide a college education for their child. But their child wasn't ready for it and God knows much better what is right for each individual. They may need some discipline and some real world education before they realize the importance of a college education. Or maybe they are one of those who doesn't need a college education to be successful! A college education doesn't guarantee success, happiness, health and wellbeing. God knows things we don't and we need to let Him provide, protect, lead and guide. We shouldn't jump in and play God, thinking we know best. College loans are predatory. These predatory lenders are not looking at your child to fulfill and pay the loans. That child has no job, no assets, no savings. They know perfectly well, if they get Mom and Dad to co-sign, then they can come after Mom and Dad for the fulfillment of the loan. And Mom and Dad have more money and assets that can be taken if the loan is defaulted. They would much rather have a few years of payments and then, when the loan is defaulted, they get to take Mom and Dad's house that's nearly paid for. They raise the interest rates sky high if the payment is late. Before you know it the loan has doubled, tripled because of the high interest rates. Don't fall into it unless you know you child is responsible, has a good work history and you feel God leading you to do it. Don't play God and get in God's way. But be led by God to do what God says to do. Pray, think carefully and don't co-sign for a loan if you don't have an easy way to pay it back.
If you know someone is irresponsible and not trustworthy, don't co-sign for them to get a new car. Because more than likely they won't make the payments and you end up making the payments on a car they are driving because you don't want it to ruin your credit rating. Make sure you aren't playing God. God knows whether or not they are ready for a car or maybe they need to hoof it for awhile until they learn to appreciate a car. God knows them and has the wisdom to make the right decisions for them. Don't get in His way and try to takeover and make it happen by co-signing on a loan. Even if they are family or they have a hard luck story, don't do it unless you really feel God is leading you to do it.
- Have you ever asked someone to co-sign a loan for you? How did it work out? Were you the responsible one and you made the payments and paid the loan off? Or were you the irresponsible one who let someone else pay your debt for you? Why did you ask someone to co-sign? Was it a legitimate reason? Did you have the ways and means to pay off the loan without resorting to the co-signer? Why did you need the loan? Was it worth it? Did you use the money well?
- Have you ever co-signed on a loan with someone? How did it work out? Why did you do it? Why did they need the loan to begin with? Did they use the money well or was it wasted? Did you end up having to make payments or pay the loan off? How did it make you feel?
- If you have lost money by co-signing for someone else, were you angry? Hurt? Bitter? Have you been able to deal with the loss by forgiving them? Or have you held it against them? I'm not judging, I know it would be only human to be angry. But God does instruct us to forgive and not carry that anger around with us. He tells us He will deal with those who have taken advantage of us. It's not that we forget but we don't carry bitterness and anger about it. So begin to pray that you will be able to forgive and let it go. If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is in you and can empower you to do what God commands you to do... forgive. It's not in our power to do it. But God in us can help us. You are praying God's Will if you are praying for God to help you forgive that person. In time, as you continue to pray, that forgiveness will work through and you will find you have forgiven and you have let it go. Release it and trust God to be your recompense. God will provide financial blessing to cover the loss if you obey His command to forgive. Let it go, let God deal with them and let God heal you and release blessing to you.
For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.