Proverbs 22:27

If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?
– Proverbs 22:27

Being surety, or striking hands, is like cosigning a loan for someone today. If the borrower defaults, the cosigner assumes responsibility for the debt. The warning of the previous verse comes home in harsh reality that you could literally lose your bed from under you. Wisdom takes a longer view and looks to the outcomes, or the end of the way you are going. Becoming surety opens yourself to vulnerability and puts you at risk of future loss.

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Proverbs 22:26

Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.
– Proverbs 22:26

Proverbs has repeated warnings about sureties (Proverbs 6:1-15; 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 27:13). A surety, or a pledge, secures a debt and Proverbs cautions doing so, particularly for one whose reputation is bad or unknown. A pledge is a form of rash vows and puts a person in unnecessary risk. Solomon advised his son to get out of such a situation as fast as he could if he ever got in it (Proverbs 6:1-15).

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Proverbs 22:7

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.
– Proverbs 22:7

Wealth brings independence as well as power, at least in terms of leverage. The rich have many friends and can call in many favors (Proverbs 19:4, 6). The wealthy are in power over the poor, whether directly or indirectly (Proverbs 18:23). We tend to look on poverty as a voluntary condition, and it can be so, as in the case of laziness (Proverbs 10:4; 12:11; 14:23; 20:13, 21). Poverty can also be a providential condition owing to no personal fault (Proverbs 14:31; 22:2). The second phrase states the direct dependence of the poor in terms of the borrower serving the lender. The law had many regulations for treatment of the poor, including provisions when a poor man became a slave to pay his debts (Exodus 21:1-7; Leviticus 25:40-43; Deuteronomy 15:12-15). Wisdom teaches to use all diligence to avoid this servitude, but does not guarantee it can be avoided.

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Proverbs 6:5

Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.
– Proverbs 6:5

Solomon uses two images to finish off this warning. A roe is something like a gazelle, though the exact animal is not known to us today. A bird could be any such animal subject to trapping. The point in both cases is that when they are trapped, they give all their attention and energy to escaping. This reinforces the urgency necessary when becoming ensnared is such a foolish obligation. Solomon exhorts to focus all your time and effort on getting out of the trap you’re in.

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Proverbs 6:4

Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.
– Proverbs 6:4

The point Solomon presses is urgency in freeing oneself from so unwise and potentially disastrous of a decision. The urgency throughout this section of verses reflects the serious nature of the problem. The point is to take it seriously and not casually and to do all that can be done in honesty to get out of the obligation, including humbling yourself extremely.

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Proverbs 6:2

Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
– Proverbs 6:2

Snared and taken refer to being caught in a trap such as a hunter might use to catch an animal. In this case, the impetuous youth’s mouth has landed him in the trap. Being in the trap is the consequence of a hasty action taken without thought. The way of wisdom is to consider well the implications and outcome of a path before entering upon it (Proverbs 4:26; 14:8, 15; 22:3). The issue here is debt and surety but the applications go beyond.

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Proverbs 6:1

Chapter 6, verses 1-15, bring forward three follies or traps for a young man to avoid. Solomon continues his fatherly addresses and speaks plainly and practically. He warns of being hasty and obligating oneself, sloth, and avoiding unprofitable friendships or partnerships. Verses 16-19 is the famous list of seven abominations and verses 20-35 return to warnings against going after an evil woman. The repetitive and extensive way Solomon addresses this alerts us to attention to its importance.

My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger;
– Proverbs 6:1

Solomon begins a new address here that runs through verse 15. Verses 1-5 address the issue of hastiness in becoming obligated for the debt of another. He doesn’t use the usual call to attention, but begins simply, “My son.” Surety refers to giving a pledge to pay a debt if a person defaults and striking hands refers to the method then of entering into a contract. The point is speaking of becoming legally obligated to pay the debts of another. Friend here doesn’t necessarily indicate closeness. It could be anyone, so the relation is not important. The point is this being done willingly. In other words, it’s a situation where you are not under any binding obligation and so Solomon is warning against rashly obligating oneself voluntarily.

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