Proverbs 6:1-19 describes three kinds of fool.
The first fool is the Savior. This person really, really loves people. Especially needy people. Especially needy people who keep having needs. This person will bend over backwards to meet a need. The Savior will joyfully sacrifice time, money, and energy to help people with their problems. But…the problems never go away. And the people with problems multiply. The Savior attracts them and feels really good about it.
I am this fool. If you’re honest, you probably are, too.
My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
Have given your pledge for a stranger,
If you are snared in the words of your mouth,
Caught in the words of your mouth,
Then do this, my son, and save yourself,
For you have come into the hand of your neighbor:
Go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.
Give your eyes no sleep
And your eyelids no slumber;
Save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
Like a bird from the hand of the fowler (Prov 6:1-5, ESV).
The ancient world had no banks, no wire transfers, and no lines of credit. If you had no cash (in the form of coins), you had no net worth. You might be able to buy some life essentials with livestock, cloth, or labor, but otherwise you were likely to need a loan of some sort.
Another institution unfamiliar to the ancient world was the credit bureau. If you wanted to borrow money from me, I couldn’t run a credit check to prove your ability to repay the loan. So to lower risk, I could only get a sense of your character by talking to your family and friends. But to be really safe, I would require two signatures on the loan papers – one from you and one from your surety. Your surety was the person who promised to pay me back if somehow you found yourself unable to do so.
In Prov 6:1, Solomon writes to the person who has become the surety for another. He addresses the one who “put up security” and gave a pledge to repay someone else’s loan in case of default.
What’s at stake for this person? As a surety, you have “come into the hand of your neighbor” (Prov 6:3). If the borrower defaults, you become obligated to pay the debt. You have become a slave to someone else’s circumstances, and you ought not rest until you free yourself (Prov 6:4). You’re road kill unless you find a way out (Prov 6:5). You should not make such pledges. If you already have, nullify them at all costs.
This sort of Savior wasn’t limited to ancient Israel. Next week I’ll show how he’s still thriving and saving today.
Question: Where do you see the “Savior” in our generation?