The sixth “talk” teaching the skillful application of God’s Word (“wisdom”) is an exhortation: stay away from bad debt, laziness, and troublemakers (6:1–19). A sure way to ruin is to be responsible for someone else’s debt (1–5). The situation (1–2, 5) describes the danger of becoming a cosigner—being legally responsible for paying another’s debt should the borrow fail to pay (cf. 11:15; 17:18; 22:26–27; 27:12–13). The danger of cosigning (“snare, caught, fowler’s hand”) isn’t obvious—it seems like a good thing to do, helping a needy friend who’s unable to get into debt on his own. What’s dangerous is that you completely surrender control of your life and finances to someone else. The solution (3–4) is to get out of that position as soon as possible. “Deliver yourself” (3, 5) means tear yourself away from the situation—“go…humble yourself…plead.” Do whatever it takes, don’t put it off, do it ASAP. Verse 4 emphasizes this—don’t wait until tomorrow, do it today! Being responsible for someone else’s debt is a foolish thing to do because (1) You’re committing yourself to something you don’t know and can’t control; (2) You lose your security—your future is now given to someone who is in debt and who could just walk away without caring what happens to you; (3) You’re putting everything that that you’ve carefully saved into the power of someone who probably hasn’t been careful. That’s foolish!
1. Is this saying be stingy? What is it saying?
2. If you want to help someone in need, is taking responsibility for their debt the only option? You could either loan it to them (without interest, 28:8) or just give what is needed (19:17).
3. What is the difference between loaning and becoming responsible for a loan?
4. What could happen to your family if you put yourself in this situation?