Being A Surety Prov. 6: 1-5 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
This proverb is about sureties – what we typically think of as going somebody’s bail or signing a note with them as a cosigner. Any time you give your word on behalf of someone else, you are obligated to pay or make it good if they don’t. And this proverb tells you what to do about being a surety.
The proverb assumes that you have already made a deal to back somebody. Now, what are you going to do about it? Of course, you should take a lesson from this wisdom and avoid becoming a surety unless you have already agreed in principle that you are completely willing to pay the obligation [i.e. signing a note for a child in lieu of just giving them the money outright in hopes that they can establish some credit – you’re willing to pay because you were willing to give them the money outright].
- You can make the deal by just “shaking” on it because you are as good as your word – at least that’s the way it was in the old days – and you can make the deal with a stranger not just a friend.
- The “word” you give becomes a snare that takes you – i.e. they “took” him at his word. It becomes a trap, a snare that can be pulled at any time.
- Now that you realize this, you have two options. One, you need to deliver yourself and get out of the bond, if you can [i.e., guarantor on a note and then you leave the company, cut yourself out of the deal so that you don’t get stuck later if the remainder of the people in the deal fail]. Go back and “make sure” that he stays your friend by getting out of this agreement that is sure to ruin your friendship when you have to step up and pay. I won’t loan money in church because the repayment kills the relationship and they end up out of the church.
- Realize that this business is urgent and requires haste and the priority of your attention – don’t sleep on it – you’ll let something else come up and before you know it, the convenient time will have passed and you will be shelling out.
- You should want to run out of this trap as desperately as a roe wants to run out of a hunter’s trap [like a fawn we caught when we were teens escaped from our harness]
Here are some other proverbs that drive the point home (11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26).
Note: There are cases when you will need to stand for your friend – Judah was surety for Benjamin (Gen 43:8-10; Gen 44:30-34) – Paul was surety for Onesimus (Philemon 18-19) – Jesus was surety for us (Heb 7:22)