Proverbs 6:1-5; 22:7
Derek Berry, pastor
Tabernacle Baptist Church, Hiram
These verses are not against generosity, but against overextending one’s financial resources. Against someone acting in a way that would lead someone to poverty.
There is a fine line between generosity and good stewardship. I believe God wants us to help our friends and the poor, but He doesn’t promise to cover the costs of every unwise commitment we make.
Proverbs 22:7 – Debt can easily enslave us
There is a New Testament connection to this passage with Romans 13:7-8. How can debt enslave us? The borrower must realize that until the loan is repaid, they are a servant to the debtor.
Does this mean we should never take out a loan? No, it means that we should only borrow what we have the ability to repay.
A loan that we can pay will enable us; a loan we can’t pay will enslave us.
Proverbs 6:1-2 – stay within boundaries
Financial obligations beyond your ability to manage are unwise. Solomon strongly cautions his son not to act unwisely when taking on debt. He could place himself in bondage for many, many years by guaranteeing a loan for someone else. Putting up (verse 1) surety, or security, refers to cosigning another person’s debt.
The principle is to not pledge or guarantee a loan for someone else. The striking of hands was the custom of the day that finalized an arrangement (2 Kings 10:15). It was like the handshake or the signing of a contract of our day.
Why would Solomon so strongly discourage this practice? People who pledge another’s debt are equally responsible for it; it becomes their debt as well (v. 2). Solomon uses common terms to illustrate the bondage people place themselves in when they guarantee a loan. Being “snared” describes a bird caught in a net. Being “taken” immediately conjures up a picture of war in which young men are held as prisoners of war.
The repetition of “words of thy mouth” warns against speaking in haste. An oral contract preceded the striking of hands. The repetition emphasizes that a person’s word alone morally obligated him or her to perform what was promised.
Proverbs 6:3-5 – Getting free
Work to get out of a binding financial entanglement. Solomon’s counsel is firm to those who enter into such pledges thoughtlessly: free yourself from this foolish commitment. Deliver yourself from this trap.
Solomon continues by advising his son not to delay in taking corrective action (v. 4). Go to the creditor now, the same day. Do not wait until tomorrow. Do not sleep until the matter is settled and you are released from the debt.
In concluding the lesson, he reverts to the picture of captured animals. What will a trapped roe (gazelle) do? What will a trapped bird do? They will each struggle immediately to loosen themselves and go free. They don’t give up and submit to their fate. They persistently and painfully scratch, wiggle, and wrestle until they work their way loose. If necessary, an animal will even injure or maim itself to gain its freedom.
In other words, securing your release from a foolish obligation may require a price, but it’s better to assume the loss than remain in bondage to the pledge.
It’s very important to act responsibly so your family does not suffer.