What does Proverbs 17:18 mean?
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.
NKJV: A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, And becomes surety for his friend.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Proverbs 17:7–21 continues Solomon's wise observations. These remarks touch on speech, fools, strife, true friendship, co-signing loans, love of sinning, and what a fool can expect thanks to his foolishness. Numerous comments involve errors that lead to arguments and division. Some observations make a statement and then add to it, others present vivid contrasts.
Chapter Summary:
This portion of Solomon's wise sayings involves several recurring themes. Among these are the importance of controlling one's words: hasty or spiteful language can do great harm. He also notes how wisdom and foolishness tend to be self-perpetuating. Wise people seek wisdom, foolish people seem immune to it. Other important topics are the impact of ungodly children on a family and the value of integrity and common sense.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 10 began a lengthy series of Solomon's statements of wisdom. This chapter continues by noting concepts such as honesty, controlled speech, and family harmony. The list continues into chapter 22.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
Accessed 6/21/2024 5:14:46 PM
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