What does Proverbs 6:3 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: So do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor's hands: Go--to the point of exhaustion-- and give your neighbor no rest!
NASB: Then do this, my son, and save yourself: Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, Go, humble yourself, and be urgent with your neighbor to free yourself.
CSB: Do this, then, my son, and free yourself, for you have put yourself in your neighbor's power: Go, humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor.
NLT: follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased.
KJV: Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend.
Verse Commentary:
Solomon is explaining the dangers of "[putting] up security" for someone else's borrowing. This is equivalent to the modern idea of cosigning: agreeing to pay on behalf of the other person if they fail to make good on the debt. Agreeing to that obligation when the borrower is a stranger, unreliable, or the loan has excessive interest is foolish.

If someone finds themselves caught in such a situation—by their own words of promise (Proverbs 6:2)—they should try to extricate themselves by humbly asking to be released from the obligation. Solomon puts a sense of urgency on this idea: recommending one act immediately to get out of the situation and beg urgently to be released from the obligation.

In this context, "your neighbor" refers to the first signer of the loan: the actual borrower. The word "neighbor" appears in verse 1 as the person for whom the cosigner agrees to attach his name to the loan. Instead of berating the neighbor for his failure to pay, it is best to withhold one's anger and humbly plead with him to pay his debt and free you from your part in it. If the cosigner insults the first signer, he may make him angry and unwilling to oblige. This action is hard to take, but it is much harder to fall prey to a money-hungry lender and forfeit one's property as payment of the loan.
Verse Context:
Proverbs 6:1–5 is the first of two teachings on good financial health in this chapter of Proverbs. This passage refers to using one's own property as collateral, especially for someone else's loan. The emphasis seems to be on a situation where one has cosigned on high-interest or risky borrowing, on behalf of another person. The book of Proverbs often discourages this kind of gamble (Proverbs 17:18; 22:26–27). Solomon's advice for those caught in such an arrangement is to immediately seek resolution: remove yourself from that situation without delay. Exodus 22:25–27 and Leviticus 25:35–37 are companion texts regarding lending money. The next passage considers another aspect of money management: avoiding laziness.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter provides teaching on two aspects of wealth management. The first is avoiding putting one's property in debt for the sake of some other person's risky investment. The other warns against laziness, indicating that it puts a person at risk for sudden ruin. Solomon then poetically explains attitudes and actions which God finds especially repulsive. Next, Solomon returns to the subject of adultery. He reiterates the inherent risks of sexual immorality, including the catastrophic consequences which it brings. That lesson continues into the following chapter.
Chapter Context:
This chapter of Proverbs continues the wise sayings Solomon addresses to his son. In chapter 5 he addresses adultery and marriage. In this chapter he addresses financial matters, work ethics, characteristics and conduct the Lord despises, and sexual immorality. A common theme of these lessons is to avoid the natural consequences of foolish choices. The next chapter describes the adulteress's ways and the pitfalls involved in committing adultery with her.
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.
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