Debt in Proverbs

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Although the book of Proverbs does not use the word "debt" in the KJV, it does comment on what was called "surety."

Surety occurs when a person agrees to be responsible and directly liable for the debt or obligation of another person. This means that a creditor can pursue the person who is pledging surety for a debtor in order to retrieve any goods or money owed.

Surety, as defined in the book of Proverbs, is different than being a guarantor or cosigner for a loan. A cosigner of a loan makes someone responsible and liable for another person's debt only IF that person does not pay what is owed. Biblical surety, however, holds both the debtor and the person pledging surety equally responsible to pay what is owed.

Should the poor be made to work?
Can rich people be saved?
Should we pay taxes?

Interestingly, the Apostle Paul mentions surety or debt in relation to Jesus Christ. It is the only place in the King James New Testament where the word surety is used.

By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament (Hebrews 7:22, KJV).

A more modern translation of the above verse is, "By such a greater measure then, Jesus was made the Guarantor of a superior covenant" (Hebrews 7:22, HBFV). This means the Christ ensures, in himself, the validity and certainly of the New Covenant made possible through sacrificing himself for the sins of the world.


Regents of the Old Men's Almshouse
Regents of the Old Men's Almshouse
Frans Hals, 1664

Places in Scripture other than Proverbs that discuss surety (debt) includes Genesis 44:32, Deuteronomy 24:10 - 13, Exodus 22:26 - 27, Ezekiel 18:7, 12; 33:15 and Amos 2:8.

My son, if you are surety for your friend, if you have struck your hands in a pledge with a stranger, You are snared with the words of your mouth, and you are caught with the words of your mouth - Then my son, do this now, and deliver yourself when you have come into the hand of your friend:

Go, humble yourself and make your friend sure. Do not give sleep to your eyes or slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself as a gazelle from the hunter's hand, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler (Proverbs 6:1 - 5).


World's Wit and Wisdom
The creditor hath a better
memory than the debtor.
James Howell, c. 1594 - 1666

Our years, our debts,
and our enemies are
always more numerous
than we imagine.
Charles Nadier, 1780

Before borrowing money
from a friend, decide
which you need most.
American Proverb

He who is guarantor for a stranger will surely suffer for it, but he who hates being a guarantor is secure (Proverbs 11:15).

Only someone with no sense would promise to be responsible for someone else's debts (Proverbs 17:18).

Take his garment when he becomes surety for a stranger; and for foreigners, hold him in pledge (Proverbs 20:16).

The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).

Be not one of those who strike hands, or of those who are sureties for debts. If you have nothing to pay, why should he take away your bed from under you? (Proverbs 22:26 - 27).

Take his garment when he becomes surety for a stranger; and for an adulterous woman hold him in pledge (Proverbs 27:13).


World's Wit and Wisdom
Industry pays debts,
despair increases them.
Benjamin Franklin, 1706 - 1790

The second vice is
lying while the first is
running into debt.
Benjamin Franklin, 1706 - 1790

Whoever increases his wealth through excessive interest collects it for one who is kind to the poor (Proverbs 28:8).

Next Topic
Proverbs on Envy

Additional Study Materials
How to handle a family inheritance
What does the Bible say about gold?
Should we charge interest on loans?
The Biblical year all debts are cancelled!

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