Proverbs 17:18

ESV One who lacks sense gives a pledge and puts up security in the presence of his neighbor.
NIV One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge and puts up security for a neighbor.
NASB A person lacking in sense shakes hands And becomes guarantor in the presence of his neighbor.
CSB One without sense enters an agreement and puts up security for his friend.
NLT It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for a friend.
KJV A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.

What does Proverbs 17:18 mean?

In this verse Solomon distills advice he gave earlier in the book (Proverbs 6:1–5). "Security," in this context, means the equivalent of co-signing on a loan. The warning is against risking your own property or wealth to guarantee someone else's debt. The prior verse applauded friends who help in times of hardship (Proverbs 17:17). Clearly, the point is not that one should never co-sign for or lend to a friend. Instead, this is a warning that such things are not to be taken lightly.

When the loan is due, the primary borrower may default. If that person walks away from the obligation, it leaves the co-signer responsible for the debt. No one should jump recklessly into a situation that makes them accountable for another person's irresponsible behavior. Before co-signing, a wise person evaluates the character of the person taking out a loan. He will ask if that person is financially stable, honest, and hard working. If he concludes that he is unreliable, dishonest, or lazy, he should not co-sign for him.
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